I remember being captivated by Sony for its somewhat different style from the rest when I was looking for a job. It was a time when flat-tube WEGA TVs and PlayStation® dominated the market. Being greatly attracted to Sony, a company that has been encouraging its employees to exert their skills and work with vigor since its establishment, I joined Sony EMCS Corporation at its Ichinomiya Tech.
My first job involved manufacturing technologies for producing consumer TVs and professional-use monitors, after which I was transferred to product design to handle the designing of CRT and rear projection TVs. At the time I had opportunities to work with overseas facilities and design departments, having to travel overseas several times and each time for one month to provide support for introducing new TV models. After that I became keen to move overseas on assignment whenever an opportunity arose.
After I was transferred to the TV Design Division at Sony's headquarters, I told my superior that I would like to move overseas on assignment whenever there was an opportunity. My desire was fulfilled sometime afterwards when I was assigned to develop in Malaysia the production of the models I had designed in Japan.
Now I work with our local Malaysian staff on designing new TVs. The team is made up of 2 Japanese managers and the rest of the staff is Malaysian people. The most important job for me is the training and education of the local staff in our team. I feel it is vital to make the utmost effort to train our local staff and improve their skills and motivation.
It gives me the greatest joy when I see our Malaysian team members, whom we have been working with for several years now, achieve results beyond our expectations. Since the time I was a product designer in Japan, I have been always proud of myself when a product model I have designed is released to the world. Now, in addition to the achievement, I also feel the joy and a sense of accomplishment in fostering people as I see the team members I have raised also achieving. With my heart set on achieving the goal I have since I came to Malaysia to work-which is “to create a strong design team with Japanese standard,” I feel a great sense of reward everyday as I work.
It goes without saying that the national character and mentality of the local Malaysian staff greatly differ from that of the Japanese. Even the term “Malaysian” encompasses a mixture of ethnic people with Malay, Chinese, and Indian backgrounds, making it truly a world of diversity.
The most important thing beyond communicating with the local staff who have diversified backgrounds is to explain everything clearly to obtain their understanding and consent before going ahead to do anything. Many things that are tacitly understood among the Japanese often need to be explained here. While this can be difficult and cumbersome at times, it is also enjoyable if seen from a different perspective. And as obvious as it may be, I feel the importance of building a good relationship with our team members through small details, such as stopping what I am doing to pay attention to whoever is talking to me.
Living abroad means having contact with and accepting different cultures and customs. In terms of work, I have to pay attention to religious rules and etiquette, as well as the different ways of thinking according to different races of people-things that I would otherwise pay little attention to in Japan. It has been nearly three years since my transfer to Malaysia and after about one year of being here, I was able to understand in depth such cultural differences. It is because I began having personal interactions with the Malaysian people, which has allowed me to deepen my understanding of the history and cultures of this country.
From working with people of various backgrounds I have learned that new values can be created when I directly face the different characters and senses of values inherent of the people. Sometimes this may mean confrontations of different opinions, but this is important, because teamwork cannot be established if everyone keeps their mouth shut and gives up on communicating with each other. Precisely because our team is comprised of members with a diversity of cultures, it is important to think that it is normal that we cannot understand one another. Therefore I try to explain things in detail and make sure the workplace environment is such that everyone can communicate sufficiently. As a result of such effort, I believe the entire team including myself is able to grow through mutual earning and absorbing of good points. I think it is wonderful that new perspectives and ideas can be created through encountering people with different senses of values.
I think Sony's company culture is probably what has been the best thing about working here for me, particularly the fact that even large projects are assigned to me regardless of age hierarchy, as long as I am willing to give it a go. In retrospect, I think I was very impudent in my youth, but my superiors and people around me always watched over me with kindness and I have been truly blessed to have the opportunities I have had for all kinds of challenges. I am truly grateful for the working environment where my opinions are heard and my impudence accepted. As a TV designer, my future goal will be to come up with pioneering new concepts for TV design, and as I work toward realizing that goal, I will keep at taking up new challenges.