From time to time we feature different members of our team, to learn more about them and their pursuits. To celebrate Anne Sutherland’s two-year anniversary, we decided to interview her as a Featured Team Member from Norman! Keep reading to learn more about Anne and her work with us.
Our own beautiful, tropical fish, Anne is a vital part of daily operations as Allshore’s new Administrative Coordinator. Allshore’s Chief Operations Officer Tara Waddle told us, “We are extremely lucky to have an individual as intelligent and talented as Anne. She is always up for a challenge, and her outstanding dependability and self-reliance makes it easy to entrust her with any responsibility or task. I sincerely appreciate all of the hard work she’s put in over the past two years!”
A coworker of Anne’s, Brian Michael said: “Anne is known for delivering thorough, thoughtful, and polished work. She can be counted on to work within prescribed, and often meticulous, processes and policies while still offering independent and critical thinking to enhance outcomes whenever possible. If that’s not enough, she’s guaranteed to make you laugh when you least expect it!”
We picked Anne’s brain on her present interests, her past accomplishments, and her ideal future.
Anne, we want to know everything about you! Let’s start at the beginning: where are you from?
I was born in Chickasha, Okla., and lived there until I moved to Norman for college. I’m the only Okie on both sides of my family, so I didn’t really have many relatives around when I was growing up. I do have three sisters though, so they were plenty.
Tell us about a fun memory you had growing up there.
I love the Festival of Lights they have every year. For Christmas the town puts up lights all around our main park, with lights in the trees and light displays of different pictures. It’s a really big deal for our town, and we still always go together in my family around the holidays.
What made you decide to move to Norman and attend the University of Oklahoma (OU)?
Well, originally I was looking at colleges out of state, but because of finances and Tanner, my fiancé who was still in Chickasha at the time, I decided to be a little closer to home. I was choosing between OSU and OU since they are the only two with Japanese language departments, but felt more at home in Norman than I did Stillwater. So I ended up coming here!
Were you looking to specifically get a degree in Japanese language?
I wanted to major in Japanese itself, but there weren’t any degree programs in state like that. So when I went to OU I studied Asian Studies, with a focus on Japan, and have a minor in Japanese. Honestly, I’m glad it worked out that way. I got to take a lot of awesome classes and learned a lot about Japan’s history and the history of the region. Because of how my degree worked out, I realized that Japanese history was one of my favorite things.
Where did your interest in Japanese culture and language originate?
When I was first starting high school, one of my sisters moved back to Chickasha for a bit. We spent a lot of time together and she had a friend there who had a closet filled, and I mean literally, with anime and manga, which are Japanese animation and comics. He let us borrow them, and so I started to really enjoy those. From there I started learning more about Japan, and I thought the language was simply gorgeous. I still do. In my junior year of high school I decided I wanted to learn the language, and was trying to figure out how without risking teaching myself all the wrong things.
My grandfather actually had worked at a tech company in the 1970’s and 80’s with a man who was from Japan. He gave me his email and we started corresponding and he sent me a lot of material. I ended up deciding that I wanted to go to Japan, to make sure it was something I loved and not just a phase. So I asked my grandfather’s friend about any programs for summers abroad. He ended up asking his nephew who lived in Fukuoka on Kyushuu if I could stay with them. It was amazing! I got to stay with two families (one had three kids all about my age, two girls and a boy) for almost a month. They took me all over the place, and I even got to visit a school with the girl who was in high school. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite times of my life.
What was it like acclimating to a different culture?
It was hard, but easier with everyone to help me. When I went during college it was even easier because I already knew what to do, but more difficult because I felt more isolated since I wasn’t staying with a family. I love Japanese manners, though sometimes they are very strict for an American to follow, but because you’re usually in a city with a ton of other people, you have to act differently than we do here. You don’t have the space to be inconsiderate. They also have a deep love of nature and the seasons that I really identify with. There are shrines and temples all over the place, and they are such relaxing and wonderful places to go to.
What did you find most challenging about your experiences?
The most difficult thing the first time was not knowing much of the language. At the time I only knew basic phrases and how to read and write Hiragana and Katakana. Most things are written using those two as well as Kanji though. They’re very complicated, and even though I could read some characters, I couldn’t understand anything.
The difficult part the second time was the feeling of isolation. People were shocked to see me acting like I knew what I was doing whether I was buying groceries, counting change, or knowing where I was when I got off the bus. Kyoto is a city with a lot of tourists and so they have experience with a lot of clueless Westerners.
I know that Japanese and Pakistani culture are quite different, but do you feel like having the experiences from Japan helped you integrate into your role here as a Client Relations Manager?
Honestly, I do. Despite how different they are, when you deeply study another culture and language, you’re more prepared overall for certain things. For example, when there are communication issues with a developer because he doesn’t understand a certain word of phrase, it’s easier for me to explain those because I’ve been on both sides of that situation. Japanese is a very nuanced language that doesn’t usually come out and say how things actually are, so I think that in particular has helped me be able to read between the lines for other cultures.
Would you say you still have a pretty good grasp on the Japanese language?
Unfortunately, I’ve lost a lot. It really breaks my heart, and I want to start studying it again. Every time I hear it or read it I get little flutters in my heart! Then I realize how sad I am that I don’t use it anymore.
I’m sure hearing it again on occasion is a nice refresher. Do you have favorite anime?
I really like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Toradora, and Full Metal Alchemist. Honestly, I love so many, it’s really hard to actually pick a favorite. The thing I love about anime is that there are so many genres. You can watch anything from children’s cartoons like Pretty Cure to serious and bloody shows like Attack on Titan.
Is there a particular genre of music you like to listen to?
It really depends on my mood. I like folk music, rock, electronic, bubblegum pop, and Jpop/Kpop.
What about books and movies?
I looooove to read. My favorite books are probably The Giver and the His Dark Materials series. I read that series when I was younger and loved it. Reading it as an adult, I got so much more out of it and fell in love even more. I read a lot though, and recently started going to the public library again. I forgot how amazing libraries are! They’ve been a long time love of mine along with books.
I love all the Lord of the Rings movies, as well as The Hobbit. I love Star Wars, V for Vendetta, Howl’s Moving Castle, and so many more.
So, you love libraries… but if you had to pick your favorite place in the world, where or what would that be?
Obviously one of my favorites is Japan, specifically Kyoto. There are just so many shrines and so much greenery, along with it being a fun, modern city.
What would you say inspires you?
I’d have to say veganism. I’ve always loved animals and have been a vegetarian since I was 12, but recently I dropped dairy for health reasons and have gotten a lot more out of it than that. It’s wonderful to meet other people either in person or online, who hold similar values to you. In the broader form of inspiration, nature always is that for me. When I feel down, just being outside or feeling connected to nature really helps me. It reminds me that I’m part of a much bigger web, and it’s comforting to feel every living thing around you like that just doing what they do. Squirrels just being squirrels and playing and gathering food, or a vine plant that grew around something in an interesting way.
Speaking of veganism, what is your favorite food? And do you like to cook?
My three favorite foods are probably eggplant, avocado, and edamame. I could eat those all day, every day. One of my favorite recipes ever is mushroom lentil bourguignon. It takes forever to make, but it is so worth it. I also love lavender cake. I’ve been having a lot of fun recently trying a lot of new recipes, and I had forgotten how much I love to cook.
The fun thing about vegan cooking is that there are so many new things to try. A lot of people view it as limited, but I’ve been able to branch out and try new things I wouldn’t have before.
Outside of work, what are some other things you enjoy doing?
One thing I’ve really enjoyed has been volunteering. I actually started volunteering regularly about 9 months ago with a group called OKC Vegans at the Heartland Rabbit Rescue. I fell in love with those bunnies instantly, and it quickly became one of my favorite things to do each month. Each one has their own personality, so they’re a lot of fun to work with. I also recently started volunteering at the Norman Animal Shelter with the cats, and I love that too. I’ve always loved cats, and so getting to help them when they are so lonely has been really rewarding.
You’ve adopted a few rescue animals, too, right? How did that happen?
My first cat was actually one Tanner, my fiancé, found. He was outside crying one day and Tanner heard him. Originally we didn’t think we could keep him, but we ended up falling in love. Linus has been with us over a year now, and he’s a wonderful cat with a huge personality. More recently I adopted a cat from the Animal Shelter in Norman. I saw her the first day I volunteered and she too stole my heart. I was a little nervous about Linus liking her, but now he follows Wisp everywhere!
I think we can say you’re somewhat of a hero, for your animal rescues! If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I’d love to either shape shift or be able to talk to animals. I’ve never been able to decide. The only way I could pick one is if I could communicate with animals while in their shape. Then it’d be shape shifting. The reason for that is simply because I love animals and would love to see what it’s like to be them.
Regarding things you enjoy, what are your favorite things about working at Allshore?
I’ve really learned a lot with Allshore. When I got this job, I didn’t realize how much I would get to do and how much I’d learn to do. I’ve never been big on social media, but I’ve been able to really branch out and learn how to do that for the company. I’ve gotten to write blogs, which I love because I love to write, and I’ve gotten to learn a lot about management. As a shy person, I’ve struggled sometimes with knowing how to help other people in certain situations, and so everything I’ve learned here has been a huge boon both professionally and personally.
So you just recently changed positions within the company. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing now, and how it’s different.
I’m essentially doing more of everything I was doing on the side, including contracts, social media, blogs, and small projects. One of the things I love about my new position is the projects that pop up. I love a mix of routine tasks and new projects. I like starting something, working on it to make it as close to perfect as possible, and then completing it. So it’s been fun for me to see all the different projects that come up as we do business as a company, and getting to be a part of that. It allows me to learn about a lot of different areas that go into a business, and I’ve been excited to help with it all.
What do you see for your future? Would you maybe move back to Japan again?
I’d really love to live there again. Probably not for the rest of my life for a few reasons, but Tanner and I would love to live there for a while before settling down somewhere. I’ve never had an overall ultimate goal when it came to a career; I’ve just enjoyed learning and trying things as I go along. The only overall goal I have that is related to that is that I want to write at least one book. I normally have to have things planned out, but I enjoy having my career be a mystery for me. I could go anywhere or do anything, and I like the idea of that. Just taking it as it comes and trying new things as I can.
Ever accountable, Anne helps to continually keep things organized and in order for all of her Allshore teammates. Thank you for keeping us in line, Anne; we look forward to many more workiversaries with you!