How It Feels Like To Work As A Filipino Engineer in a Japanese Company?
After I took my board exam, my first job was a Process Engineering Professional at a multinational Japanese company.
Since it was my first job, not only was I nervous but I was culture shocked as well.
Everything was new to me and I had to adapt the best way I could.
After four years of working in a Japanese value driven company, here’s some of the things I learned.
One of many popular stereotypical Filipino traits is what we call “Filipino Time”. It’s a trait wherein Filipinos tend to be fashionably late for a couple of minutes prior to an agreed time.
When you work for a Japanese company, this is a HUGE NO-NO. When they say work starts at 8:00 am, you should be at the office 10-15 minutes prior so you will have time to boot your PC, clean your desk and prepare whatever needs to be prepared for the day.
Work at 8:00 am means actual work at 8am.
Japanese companies take pride in their organizational skills. One of the first things that was drilled on to me during my first week at work was 5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Systematize).
5S is a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri (整理), seiton (整頓), seisō (清掃), seiketsu (清潔), and shitsuke (躾).
Our tables were expected to be spotless, with only the right tools and papers on our desks.
Everything else in the company had the floors labeled with what was supposed to be on that certain spot.
Speak the language
Japanese engineers aren’t very fluent with the English language, that is why it’s important that employees know how to speak their language, or at least know some important Japanese terms, so as to have a better understanding during meetings.
In the Japanese manufacturing company I worked for, they offered lessons on how to speak the language. If you are an engineer want to expand your language skills, go for it!
This is one of the best traits I’ve learned from a Japanese company. They call it “Kaizen” or continuous improvement. It basically means (for us engineers), don’t stop at what you’ve innovated, there will always be room for improvement.
Kaizen is a concept referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers. Kaizen （かいぜん） is the Sino-Japanese word for “improvement”
Quality over Quantity
Japanese engineers are known for how they prioritize quality over quantity in their tasks, and I believe that this is one of the best things I’ve learned working for a Japanese company.
It doesn’t matter if you work on a certain task slow at first, as long as you’re sure you are giving quality results.
Continue this practice, and soon you’ll be mastering the skill of developing quality products, and since you’ve mastered the skill, you’ll be doing it faster and more efficiently as well.
After four years of working in a Japanese company, there are a lot of things I’ve learned that made me the engineer I am today.
These are just some of them, if you’ve had a similar experience to mine, share us your story or tell us in the comments.