Yesterday, we introduced the only woman Executive Officer in Pasona Tech, Inc. in Japan, Makoto Ao, and described how she have designed her career by herself based on her experience. Today, as the second part of her interview, we want to think about ‘what develops human resources and makes the best use of the members in a team.’
What develops and makes the best use of team members
After joining Pasona Tech, she was really into work without realizing. She started a new business in Dalian in China in 2005, which sends local university students with science and technological backgrounds to Japan as internship. Therefore, her life had been work-oriented. Then in 2007, she realized that it would be the last time to bear a child because she was turning 35 years old. She actually had a plan to have the first kid in late 20s and the second in the early 30s, but it did not go as she imagined because of not only fulfilling work but also a malignant tumor found.
At the age of 31, I had a business trip to Vietnam. When I was in the airplane, I started to feel pain in my stomach and did not cure during my stay. After returning, I went to see the doctor, and a malignant tumor was found. I had two surgeries, and I needed be on sick leave for a while. I was hoping to have a baby in a few years after joining Pasona Tech, but my life turned in a different way. So, I wanted to have a child before I turned 35 years old.
Her experience seems quite tough. What made her come back to the job?
Since I was the one who started the business there, I felt responsible. As my job got more exciting, I began to feel that I need to be here.
My experience made a base of the at-home work system the company
Being the forefront of the business changed her behavior and thought. She took maternity leave and worked at home after for three months each. Surprisingly, there were only few people who decided to work at home.
In fact, I am not the one who chose to work at home, haha. Since my childbirth was very hard, I not felt well after. If you keep feeling ill physically, my mental started to feel down. I realized that postnatal depression was happening to me. I thought it would be impossible to be back to work if I kept like that. Thus, I started to have a baby sitter one month after childbirth.
She hoped to take a maternity leave for a half year. However, she changed her mind and decided to return to the work place for her team member were short of hands. Also, she reported her at-home work in terms of the suitable system, job description, living environments, personality and so on while she worked at home so she could be a role model for at-home work in the company. Her experience made the at-home work system within the company.
With the company culture, the system is made. Then, it becomes established.
What is surprising is that almost all of the working women in Pasona Group comes back to work after childbirth. In Japan, maternity leave is legislated at least half a year now. What is the reality in this company?
Usually, female workers come back after their maternity leave for a year. Everyone in this company takes it for granted. For example, in my previous company, not only few female engineers took maternity leave but also very few of them could return to work even if they took the leave. However, as for our company, the majority is women in the first place, and you see many working mothers in front if you coming back after childbirth. it becomes established as the company culture.
However, a company culture cannot be made within a day. Even though Pasona Tech is a subsidiary company of Pasona Group, why is it possible?
I believe that it influences that the reason of why Pasona was established. Our Group CEO, Yasuyuki Nambu, start this company because he wanted to support working women. With our culture supporting women, the system is made. Then, it is established.
The company approaches based on this culture have a wide range now; including day care centers within the company, there are a caring service for child-rearing mothers by concierges contacting every once in a while, and many subsidies for housekeeping, baby sitting and so on as a part of welfare facility services run by their subsidiary company Benefit One. Ms. Ao used the system and started to have babysitting when her child was two months old.
Both cultures and systems create women-friendly work environments
She has seen many working women in various countries. Based on the experience, what does she think about the difference depending on the country?
I feel that young working women in China brought up when One-child policy enforced is very independent. Basically, they take it normal to work regardless of life events from the beginning. In Thailand, it is becoming a common idea that women build their career as well. The environment differs depending on which country working women are.
I have my female cousin in the U.S., who changed her job to a venture capital there because promoting in Japan is slower compared to other countries. In Japan, it is almost inevitable for a working woman to be promoted later than man if their skills are the same level because of the old culture. However, when I met her the other day after a while, she quitted her job.
In the U. S., working mothers have no choice to hire a babysitter since there are almost no facilities where they take care of children while their mothers are working like Japan. Although both of her and her husband are working, she made to leave her workplace to focus on child raising. It is because it is too expensive to keep working while raising a child in the U.S., thinking about the balance between your income and the living and child raising expense. Japanese women do not realize how lucky they are for they can choose to work thanks to day-care facilities.
According to her cousin, many women in the U.S. give up to keep working while they raise children. In Japan, there are systems for women but culture spread enough, but many countries do not have suitable systems though there is a culture. It seems that both cultures and systems create women-friendly work environments.
Creating the world where engineers and creators can work regardless of places or life events
Though there are systems in Japan, we cannot take a relief. Japan is facing the crisis of decreasing birthrate and aging of the population and cannot keep the current industrial structure and the market within the country any more. Thus, it will be more necessary to figure out new ways of working in order to create values in a way different from now. In that sense, engineers and creators has potential to create a huge value in the new world.
While I was on maternity leave, I thought about my life plan and what is something impossible unless I work. Then, I proposed what I want to do to the president at that time. That is, creating the world where engineers and creators can work regardless of places or life events and spread it around. Now Tokyo is the center of the IT industries in Japan, but I want to change and distribute it among provincial areas. There are some engineers around me who had no choice but to quit their job because of the life events such as childbirth. Thus, I started to create local labs as a new business so as to hire them again.
Then, she launched training engineering human resource business cooperating with industry, government and schools in Gifu Prefecture in Japan where focuses on developing information industries and has an easy access to Nagoya, the fourth biggest city. This business has turned out more than 400 engineers. At that time, many engineers lost their job because of the recession caused by Lehman Shock. They could get new technology skill training so that they could be rehired. Now, Pasona Tech has such hubs to support engineers and creators in Saga Prefecture and Nagoya City, and continue to develop. As the company, what is Pasona Tech pouring effort into as support for engineers and creators.
The key is training. We want to educate more people in IT literacy, and what is more, we long to increase the number of the people who wants to be an engineer or a creator. Thus, we launched a new hub in Thailand.
Those who have creative skills and marketing design skills will change the world
The hubs of Pasona Tech’s business training engineers and creators spreading overseas especially in Southwest Asia. There, they can learn how to work in a project team as well as technology skills. In addition to the existing engineers, the future demand for designers and creators will increase in Japan, who can create new business by using technology as a tool. However, there not many designers and creators in Japan. How does she think about their issues and how she will solve them?
We supported both engineers and creators, but the majority target were engineers. The engineer population is larger because everyone can be an engineers no matter what background of your study in university. Most of Japanese startup companies are technical ones. However, if you see the world, I think it will be those who have creative skills and marketing design skills that who change the world in the future such as UI (user interface) and UX (user experience). So, I am thinking about an internship which art university students can work in startup companies as. There are many art universities in Japan, so I want to create a system to make the use of their talent in business.
Pasona Tech has flexible working styles depending on life events and leads the world in training engineers as their business. Their corporate philosophy, “Solution’s to the social problems,” creates their culture which people exert their values in various ways. Thereby, their business creates employment opportunities as a result. As the culture, the company has diversity in people, where they work, and how they work, which develops the company, exert their potentials and values in a team.