2 weeks at Mitsui & Co. Japan ✨🎐

This July I participated in the Mitsui Immersion Program run by Mitsui & Co., a huuuge Japanese sogo shosha (global comprehensive solution provider) with connections around the world – including (most importantly) Australia!

I and 13 other students (6 UTS, 7 UWA, 1 UoN) spent 2 weeks in the heart of Tokyo – a pleasant 10 min walk from Mitsui’s headquarters. During that time, we attended various seminars run by Mitsui employees and managers, allowing us to gain insight into the inner-workings of the company. It was fascinating (particularly from a science-IT background) to learn about how a large company like Mitsui is able to manage its many business units, ranging from natural resources and mining, to lifestyle/health and startup business development. And at the heart of it all are Mitsui’s core values:

  • Challenge and Innovation
  • Open-mindedness
  • Mitsui is people 🙂

Prior to this program, I was admittedly unaware of Mitsui’s involvement in Australia. However, my perspective quickly changed following the seminars which specifically detailed Mitsui’s various business ventures in Australia, such as Shark Bay Salt Mine (100% Mitsui owned).

In addition to the seminars, we also…. visited the Edo Museum in Tokyo, where we learnt about former Mitsui’s beginnings as a family-run kimono store (Mitsui’s logo is in fact the original family emblem or kamon); visited Mitsui’s new incubation hub, Moon Creative Lab, which aims to create and develop new innovative business ideas; and, had the chance to meet-up with students from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, learning about each other over some fun team-building activities and lunch!

At the Edo Museum – a replica of former Mitsui’s textiles store which revolutionised how kimono was sold, making it more affordable and thus accessible.

At Moon Creative Lab located near Harajuku, where we got to meet some very inspiring people!

Group photo with some students from TUFS, featuring our (toppled-over) spaghetti/marshmallow tower in the bottom right.

After some intense learning the first week (including a group presentation), the majority of our second week involved site visits! There were quite a few, so here’s a photo summary:

At the Australian Embassy in Tokyo with the Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Court.
We learnt about Mitsui and Japan’s ties with Australia, and got to network with Embassy members whilst drinking tea/coffee out of super fancy teacups!

At Kashima Port, a little north of Tokyo. We were given a ferry ride around the port filled with massive ships and processing facilities – in particular, a salt processing facility with tonnes and tonnes of salt all the way from Shark Bay! (below)



At Kimitsu Steel Mill – this is a photo of one of the blast furnaces in operation (it was unbelievably huge). It was fascinating to see how iron ore is turned into steel, and a very intense experience watching red-hot steel charge down a conveyor belt.

The view from Umihotaru, an over-engineered rest stop on the Tokyo Bay Aqua-line Expressway, with multiple restaurants, a food court, an arcade and of course, a 7-Eleven.

Early morning buying ‘ekiben’ for our trip to Nagoya via Shinkansen!

Posing at the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology after a fun time exploring the museum’s plethora of exhibits. Prior to this, we visited the Toyota Exhibition Hall where we received a tour of the nearby Toyota Factory, seeing the production line for Lexus and other high-end Toyota models.

In true Japanese-businessman style, we ended one of our site visits with after-work drinks at an Izakaya.

But then it was back to work. For the last two days of the program we were split into 2 groups and tasked with creating a presentation showcasing what we had learnt, as well as pitching a potential business venture Mitsui could take that would also benefit Australia. It was a stressful 2 days, between the trials and tribulations of coming up with a business idea, and the pressure of having to speak in front of senior Mitsui executives and Australian/Japanese government officials.

Hard at work >:|

Luckily, everyone was impressed with our presentations and the program ended with smiles all around 🙂 – as well as tears, once we realised it was coming to an end.

At the closing reception – group photo with one of our HRD supervisors, Kaz.

Thank you to everyone at Mitsui and UTS, as well as the Japanese and Australian governments for making this program possible! It was an amazing experience that resulted in life-long relationships, valuable connections and unforgettable memories. It has undoubtedly helped me develop as a business professional through teaching me about Japanese business philosophy – knowledge which will definitely come in handy should I decide to work in Japan one day!

With that said, I encourage anyone who is interested in Japan to apply for this program if you get the chance! 🙂


Extras:

We were given free time on the weekends to explore Tokyo. Here are some snippets of what we got up to…

Summer in Japan means festivals! This was at Yasukuni Shrine during the Mitama Festival, where people go to honour their ancestors and the spirits of the dead, lighting hundreds of lanterns.

Tanabata Festival at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo.

Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko, which is home to a collection of World Heritage listed Shrines dating back to the 17th century. 

A massive Sakura tree within the Imperial Villa Memorial Park (also in Nikko). Just imagine how it would look in spring..!!

Not the food photo you were expecting, huh? 😏
This was a Magicarp-themed ‘taiyaki’ from Akihabara.


— Sofia Oldman, Bachelor of Forensic Science (Digital Forensics) / BA in International Studies (Japan)

KMUTT – NEW COLOMBO PLAN. THAILAND WINTER 2016

I am here sitting at the Bangkok airport waiting to get on the plane to go back home, trying to put words together to explain this incredible experience but no words can describe how good it has been.
With this trip I can finally tick the Asian continent off the map. When I landed I was excited and amazed by the country and the people but I did experience a big cultural shock. I had never been to Asia before and the language, the culture, the food, the lifestyle is so different to what I have experienced in Australia and in Europe.
The cultural shock did not last long, as soon as I got to the university after long hours stuck in Bangkok famous traffic, the feeling vanished.
Once at KMUTT accommodation I met with my roommate and more people from UTS and from that moment onwards everything was a dream.
The university facilities offered us a range of different experiences, from learning and expanding in new areas of science like cooking and understanding the science behind fermentation of a traditional Thai dessert “Khao Mahk” to challenge us by experimenting with completely out of my field areas like quantum mechanics, nanotechnology and thermoelectricity. We also had the opportunity to experience the real nature at the All Green Learning Center a few hours out of Bangkok where we learnt about sustainability and the importance of working together with nature like using natural dyes instead of chemically based ones or using renewable energies and reusable plastics. I had the chance to swim in a natural swimming pool free of chemicals as well as bond more with our Thai buddies that taught us how to play “Bob Dang” a traditional card game. My roommate and I got to sit in a really cute swing but only for a few minutes as it broke and we ended up on the floor in-between laughs!
My favorite activity by far was visiting the elephant research and rehabilitation fund where we had the opportunity to learn about elephant biology and the animal conservation and rehabilitation work they do. The animals were majestic and I got the amazing opportunity to ride a female elephant. There was also a rescue dog that we put to test; he smelled me and I hid behind some bushes. Right after he came to find me in order to rescue me! He was a legend; he stole everyone’s heart with his sweet cheekiness!
We did so many things that provided us with incredible knowledge: from learning Thai language and culture, Muay Thai, and walking around the Bangkok streets, visiting the Grand Palace and the national museum to going to a winery as well as a fish factory in order to learn the industry.

The Thai people stole my heart they are kind and trustworthy. They have beautiful souls and are always happy to help. From amazing classmates, teachers and lecturers to amazing taxi drivers and kind hearted people. Humans can be incredible and I had a taste of it in the most amazing way. And what to say about Australian people, they once more proved to me the most amazing people. I can say I made lifelong friends in this trip, which I am sure we will reunite once in Sydney, our “Thai Family”. We experienced real Thai cooking classes together, we bargained in the markets, we ate until we dropped and we danced the nights away on sky bars and in the Bangkok streets. We wondered alleys, cooked with natives, experienced the real Thai monsoon and ride taxis with 5 people at the back. We even got to travel across Bangkok to find a lost phone during our last night. It proved us how nice Thai people are as we were really lucky! WE GOT IT BACK! We worked as a team and stayed together keeping each other safe at all times like a family.

There is nothing else to say but thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you to UTS, to KMUTT, to all my peers and to everyone who made this experience possible! It has been incredible!

Neus Gomila Pelegri – 11823895