So, what brings success in career? (1/2)

Executive Officer of Pasona Tech, Inc., Makoto Ao

Because of the rapid development of the Internet and the drastic change of labor market everywhere in the world, the relationship between workers and companies has been changing into what no one has ever experienced. Assuming the future working environment is completely different from where we are today, what could bring good outcome? You? Your team?

Of course, either of them affects each other, but there should be some kind of world-common standard for successful workers’ mind / experience, and teams’ culture and system which optimizes their human resource. Today, we welcome Makoto Ao, who is the only woman Executive Officer of Pasona Tech, Inc. (located in Tokyo, Japan), to talk about the future global standard in two different perspectives: successful individual and productive team.

Inside of PASONA GROUP Comprehensive Group Office

Located near Tokyo St., Pasona Group Comprehensive Group Office is surrounded by green both inside and outside. Gourds on the celling were harvested when interviewing.

Pasona Tech, Inc. is one of the subsidiary companies of Japanese company, Pasona Group. Under the group company’s corporate philosophy ‘Solution’s to the social problems,’ the company has expanded engineers’ employment by temporary staffing and outsourcing.

Ever since 1994, when IT was not familiar as much as today, the company has created opportunities acquiring skills and performing for ‘HUMANWARE®, which they named those who bring out the most of technology possibility. Nowadays, their business ranges to supporting companies overseas especially in ASEAN, and community revitalization associating with local companies and government.

With the background of engineer in the past, one of the company’s Executive Officer Makoto Ao holds up the idea of 'creating the future working way for engineers and creators’ and focuses on IT talent training business together with local government and companies. In order to expand the place where both engineers and creators can work, her main focus is on two businesses: establishing local bases for engineers and creators such as Gifu Hub and Nagoya Hub, and crowdsourcing business, called Job-Hub.

While gaining career by experiencing being an WEB engineer, opening new sales offices and setting up WEB related business, she is a working mother. She is often asked for career advice by women workers in both Japan and global bases for her experience of job replacement, child-raising, and promotion. She showed us her perspective about both successful career as an individual and a productive team based on her experience.

Designing Career by oneself

Ms. Ao, who is one of the company Executive Officers in Pasona Tech, Inc., started her career as an engineer. Her first turning point came after four years when she realized that her opportunities to acquire the skills were limited.

It is clear why I quitted the first company; My male co-workers were assigned to core projects in preference to women. Since I wanted to experience core projects, I spoke up to my bosses at that time, but I never got a chance. They told me that I could take it easy with my career because I am a woman and assigned me to comparatively simple packaged projects.

However, I was eager to obtain any skill such as server and front engineering as early as possible. Thus, I changed my occupation for a relatively smaller company, where there were more chances.

In the new company, she experienced a new business launch about customer relationship management utilizing some database. By changing her career in her late twenties, she gained a desired environment where she could improve her engineering as much as she wished. But, because of frequent business trips and hard work, we gradually felt it was difficult to continue working in a long term.

In fact, I got married right after my job change. Since my husband worked in Yokohama, and I worked in Osaka, (It takes more than two hours one way by bullet train) we could only see each other on weekends. It was okay in the beginning, but I started to feel insecure about this work style in the future in two perspectives; marriage and physical strength.

Pasona Tech, Inc. is 'Never-changing HUMANWARE® company’ where women can exert one’s utmost value.

Ms. Ao met Pasona Tech, Inc. on her second job seeking for 'gaining both career and work-life balance.’ Since a staff agency company was out of her next job options, she was upset about the job offer. As she was explained 'the company supports success of women in the work place and specializes IT as well as always challenges themselves to something new,’ she decided to go for their interview, where she had a fateful encounter with Koichi Morimoto, the company president.

Pepper at the front desk

There is a Pepper, an AI robot that reads human emotions, at the front desk, welcoming visitors

Within Pasona, Inc., Mr. Morimoto launched two new businesses; one is Windows Rescue in 1994, and the other is Mac Rescue in 1996. He has been focusing on training engineers and creators with prediction of an increasing need of them in Japan in the future as IT develops.
He told me his vision that Pasona Tech, Inc. is a ‘never-changing HUMANWARE® company,’ not a mere hardware not software company in IT industry, which impressed and stimulated me a lot. Eventually, I decided to join the company, attracted by him.

After joining Pasona Tech, Inc., She opened new sales offices in many areas. Her reason of job change was to improve work-life balance, but she was absorbed in her new work. She recalled those days as exciting memories.

I did not realize that I worked that much. I enjoyed starting business by myself very much, which was totally different from my past job making effort to meet the deadline. It was really exciting. I think I worked super hard, haha. My team members were almost like a family.

Ms. Ao realized her the importance of economic independence when her husband also changed his career.

How can she be strict with her career and get what she says “a really exciting job?

I feel more comfortable choosing, doing and achieving by myself. Actually, I did not expect myself to be a ‘career woman’ at first. I wanted to obtain all the engineering skills but never wanted to work hard. I did not think much about my career at that time because of the background of my father being an entrepreneur, and myself doing business while I was in university.

However, her mind changes according to an accident before her marriage.

At first, when I was young, I dated with some guys who were entrepreneurially minded, but they made me think that I want to follow my dream. I wanted to depend on my partner for financial resources, but I wanted to do what I wanted to do rather than that for I am the only child in my family. Though I got married to my current husband, who is an office worker. However, my husband decided to change his career as well. That realized me that I also should be economically independent in case something happens in the future.

With the thought about her career, she working hard to open up some sales offices. Then in 2007, she was chosen one of as a Junior Board who had opportunities to plan a new business for the whole Pasona Group company.

The key to make career change successful is “do not compare myself to others.

Some may say that her career is full of dramas. Experiencing many turning points in career, how does she think about her own career?

A turning point in career is a good timing to reconsider your own self, and it is important to look back on your steps in every such point. We did not have a chance to understand our own career situation objectively in our daily life. Thus, it is necessary to take some time reconsider your life when your position changes due to job changes or life events. The characteristic of my career is that I connecting those turning points for the better.

Ms. Ao recalled her past smiling and laughing. But generally speaking, it is sometimes quite tough to overcome difficulties such as facing the limitation of job opportunities, struggling to balance work and family, and a partner experiencing a career change. What made her able to get over such problems?

Actually there is something I noticed when I was talking with a company president. I know that I am pretty positive, but he told me that I do not compare myself with others at all. If I think about it, I don’t really worry about how people see me compared to others. My belief is that everyone is different, and I go my own way. My point of view does not get influenced depending on others.

I don’t care how they think; I design my career.

She says that this personality comes from her childhood but not what she has gained while building her career.

I do not have any resistance to new environments for my childhood had a lot of environmental changes and I experienced changing residence, transferring to another school or going to a remote school. Therefore, I do not care about foreigners, moving, or of course job changes. Many people say that they are afraid of going into something new, but I do not have that type of fear.

How come she can feel no fear for something new?

If I think about why I am not afraid of something new, my personality of not comparing about others plays a big part of it. Rather, if I make a mistake, I think it is because I am luckily chosen to fail. I am not used to seeing myself compared to others such as other child-rearing mothers, or other working women. I design my career by myself. There are more people like me overseas, and they care about their own life and family more than anything.

Drawing opportunities by speaking up what she wants to do.

What does she really mean by “designing career by myself”?

I always speak up what I want to do all, and then somebody gives me a chance for it. I usually say what I can possible realize in three years. For example, once I said ‘I want to write a column for newspaper. Fortunately, I got an offer for writing serialized one for newspaper.

So, what would she want to do next?

A friend of mine, who is a female economic journalist, appears on tabloid TV show every Sunday as a commentator. So, I am hoping to appear on TV as a woman commentator for IT fields.

For the whole interview, we answered every question with smile even when she talked about her tough experience, which shows her strength. She gives herself up to what she enjoys without caring about others. Then once in a while, she stops and reconsider her life for the better. She draws opportunities toward herself by speaking up what she wants to do. This is how she “design her career by herself.

Tomorrow, we are going to introduce the culture of Pasona Tech, which Ms. Ao is working for, as the latter part of the interview.