Junior Employee Overseas Training Program Participant Interview
What did you do at your locations on the Junior Employee Overseas Training Program?
I performed the same negotiations with overseas manufacturers that I had been doing in Japan, but under the direction of my local supervisor – like doing my job in Japan, except abroad. I also got a chance to actually drive cars and evaluate our products, which I had not done in Japan. What about you?
Like Ms. Tomida, most of my work was the same cost planning work I had done in Japan. Under the direction of my local supervisor, I helped local Indonesian staff understand our cost planning process and solve the issues I had identified in Japan. I also gained some new experiences, like strategizing on how to make currently manufactured products more profitable, and also budget management for the manufacturing company.
In my case, I tried to apply the production management methods I had used at the Japanese plant at the Indian plant. I learned the Indian management method from expatriate staff at the beginning of my training, then I worked with my local supervisor and staff to figure out how to apply the management methods I had used in Japan.
Similarly, I also worked together with local staff. But I worked in technology development, so I developed simulation technology along with local American engineers and designers (including my supervisor), as well as local auto manufacturers and others.
Please share a lasting memory from your experiences overseas.
I’ll always remember how people were so friendly in speaking to me. Like when I went to a local grocery store, people I didn’t know would search for things in common to talk with me about. Chatting with a stranger on a street corner would never happen in Japan (laughs). But it was really interesting.
Ms. Tomida, I’m jealous that you can speak English. I went to a language school for about a month as part of this program, but I had a very hard time. I studied English at school every morning, then went to work in the afternoon and did my homework at night. That lifestyle was hard on me physically and mentally. I could read and write English well, so I was placed in the upper class, but my speaking wasn’t great, so I was behind the others. But my frustration motivated me to work hard, so it ended up being positive.
I was fine with English, but I can identify with your struggle when I began learning Indonesian. One thing that stands out in my mind is the way things are always breaking in Indonesia (laughs). Furniture, TVs, air conditioners, and other electronics are always malfunctioning. And when you request repairs, they say they don’t know what’s wrong or a part is missing, so the process always takes more than one round. After several experiences of this I got used to it and gave up, but I keenly felt the difference between countries in attitudes toward work.
This is a bit different from everybody else, but what impressed me most was how everyone in India has strong religious beliefs. In India, everyone sincerely believes in the gods, so the gods are their standard for their entire code of conduct. As a fairly non-religious Japanese person, it was hard for me to grasp. It was also interesting that everyone has a picture of the gods or themselves as their phone wallpaper (laughs).