Since I have studied Japanese in high school, I had a general idea of what I expected Japan to be prior to visiting Japan for the first time through this internship program. However, there were many occasions where I have experienced this so-called ‘culture shock’, from high-tech Japanese toilets to efficient train systems, you can’t help but compare what you have and don’t have back at home. Just like how I love the train systems in Japan as it was just so efficient that they were always exactly on time, in which I wished we had in Sydney! This just goes to show that Japan’s culture generally have a way of placing systems that just ‘works’ and are ‘hassle free’. Learning about these ‘culture shocks’ was always an interesting learning experience for me because what I see as ‘normal’ back at home is not what is normally done in Japan. In which I sometimes must remind myself that each country has their way of doing things differently and we need to respect them by learning their ways.
I was fortunate enough to have a very unique experience by learning about the ‘business’ culture of Japan. Mitsui’s internship program gave me this very rare opportunity to experience the business culture that I will probably never experience in the future. It was intriguing to see the disparity in the work culture when comparing it to Australia. For example, Japanese workers are known for working extremely hard and long hours whereas in Australia we aim to achieve work-life balance. This was a shock to me as it made me wonder how the Japanese workers are able to achieve work-life balance, while staying motivated, when they are always working long and hard hours? Another aspect I noticed in the business culture would be the formalities and deep respect portrayed by the employees. The workers tend to demonstrate lots of respect to their colleagues, even more so when speaking to their seniors or bosses. It is also part of formalities to bow when greeting and exchange business cards when greeting each other for the first time. Japanese workers have admirable work ethics from what I have experienced while staying at Mitsui’s office.
Understanding Japan’s diverse and rich culture was one of my most pleasant and memorable learning experiences while in Japan as the more I learn about their culture the more I could understand the people and their ways.
Mitsui and Co.’s Philosophy and their Role
VALUES AND PHILOSOPHY
One of the most lasting impressions I left from this program was mainly Mitsui’s role between
Australia and Japan, and its business philosophy, Mitsui’s business philosophy as ‘Mitsui is people’,
‘Challenge and Innovation’, ‘Open-mindedness’ and an invaluable quote “Avoid infatuation with immediate advantage. For enduring long prosperity, harbour grand aspirations” from the founder of
Mitsui, Takashi Masuda, which basically means that we should not be greedy and look for short term profit, as by looking at longer term and thinking ‘bigger’ will ensure profits will just come through achieving great aspirations. These core values have left a lasting mark within me because I found that their values for the business was so much more then gaining profit and dominance over their competitors. It gave me an alternative perspective on how to approach business projects in the future that could someday be deemed highly beneficial and valuable. These values are important to ensure the ‘3 way good’, which is ‘good for the buyer, good for the seller, and good for society’, is achieved in unison.
I have come to understand the importance of Mitsui’s role in providing sustainability for Japan’s economy and globally. They have such extensive operations located in almost all parts of the world that I never knew existed. To name a few, some of the business operations include energy, agriculture, Iron-Ore, wood chipping, salt, food and health. By looking at these diverse operations it has allowed me to gain a basic knowledge on what they are and how they operate. It gave me an insight on their logistics, distribution centres and the value chain methods, which allowed me to understand how the business operations all tie together. I was fortunate to visit many of the sites, such as the Toyota manufactory, Kimitsu steel mines, QVC headquarters and a few museums to grasp a better understanding on their vast operations that also reflects on Mitusi’s history and philosophy. This certainly highlighted how Mitsui’s business model has enabled them to remain successful to this day for many years. They have enriched my knowledge and skills that will be useful in my endeavours in hopes to achieve the same aspirations.
My Personal Growth and Development
Throughout the program, I have been fortunate to gain invaluable life lessons and professionals skills that I can apply in my future endeavours. I have managed to gain more confidence in myself where I feel like I am capable enough to achieve much more if you can put your mind to it. I am now able to go speak to higher profile people, such as executives, and talk with them without feeling intimidated and shy. This has certainly improved my communication skills, especially when set in a teamwork environment, where sharing ideas and communicating is vital. The intern has provided many group work activities for this purpose to ensure we are able to effectively work as a team, carry out our responsibilities and achieve results. Being able to speak with inspiring leaders has led me to hopefully pursue similar aspirations as I return to Sydney filled with motivation, a matured mindset and in search for a fulfilling career. Since I am studying business and Japanese language studies, this intern fits very nicely in supplementing my degree to ensure I can pursue possible career prospects in this area where it involves bilateral relations between Japan and Australia. It was a privilege to be able to be part of this prestigious program that will only happen once in a lifetime, and for that, I am thankful for this experience, as I have learned so much that I know that I will never ever forget.
– Written by Julee Nguyen – Tran
( Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Arts in International Studies)