Message from the President Aug.2008

a monthly magazine for our employee Aug.2008

The Journey toward Discovering What You Really Want to Be

1. Introduction
I think August is an excellent time to give some thought to the future direction of your life and how to lead your life. For engineers, it’s a time when the renewal of contracts and the assignment of new clients, begun in the new fiscal year, have run their course. In back-office sections as well, it’s the time when operations started since the beginning of the new fiscal year have recorded some progress. In other words, with the working environment having settled down, the summer holiday during the month of August affords the opportunity to think about things you’re usually too busy to find time for otherwise. This August, I’d like to devote some attention to viewing a career over the long term.

2. The Idea of “Career Cruising”
A career viewed over the long term may mean a continued journey in search of what you really want to be, and how to move closer to your desired self after you’ve discovered it. Some people call this “career cruising.” Some journeys may end without discovering what one really wants to be. And sometimes people may find what they really want to be but encounter great difficulty in reaching that goal in their journeys. And as soon as you’ve achieved a goal, you may even start out on the next journey--all over again from the beginning--having identified your next desired self. It’s almost like being the main character in a role-playing game. Maybe this is one big reason why role-playing games are popular, because they allow you to project your real career journey into the virtual time and space of a game. In any case, it’s certain that the career journey begins with discovering what you really want to be. But that can be quite a difficult task.

3. Begin with the Journey in Search of Who You Are
When I talk with engineers, I’m often told that they realized what kind of engineer they really wanted to be at around 30 years of age. Of course, some people realize it earlier, while others are still in search of what they really want to be even at the age of 40. What I’ve concluded from such discussions is that you can’t find what you really want to be without making a conscious effort. You won’t be able to realize the kind of person you want to be unless you continue to ask yourself--somewhere in your heart, at work--what kind of engineer you want to be and what kind of work you want to become capable of doing. Conversely, if a conscious effort isn’t made, then people will often continue to not think deeply enough about their career, even as time continues to elapse.

On the other hand, people may sometimes get the wrong idea about what they really want to be. When I talk with new-graduate engineers, they sometimes tell me that they want to design cars, or that they’re interested in LCD-related work or mobile phones. Further talk with them, however, might reveal, for instance, that this isn’t a pure dream springing from a true passion for cars. It might be based more on a conception of the car industry as Japan’s strongest manufacturing industry or a vague feeling that it’s “cool” to be associated with work related to LCDs or mobile phones. Now, some people might see the attitudes I’ve just described as shallow. But I still think it’s better to have even a vague desire instead of having none at all. Only when people experience this themselves can they truly understand. By actually designing cars, for example, people will come to know whether it’s what they really want to do or not. If it’s not what they really want to do--and when you think about it, the sooner you realize this, the easier it is to start over--we shouldn’t dismiss making a first try. For instance, the Best Matching System can be used to find out the kind of work closest to what you want to do. If you’re fortunate enough to discover what you really want to be by trial and error, then the effort aimed at reaching the goal will make that journey worthwhile at least, whether or not you actually become what you want to be.

4. Seeing the Journey as Lucky
On the other hand, what should you do when you can’t easily discover what you really want to be? Generally speaking, this might be a more common occurrence. For these people, I’d recommend the theory of “planned happenstance,” rather than “career cruising.” “Planned happenstance” refers to the theory in which people with a successful career tend to think, “I was so lucky in meeting that person at that time,” or “Taking on that piece of work at that time has made me who I am today.” They feel as if meeting the person or doing the piece of work was predestined.

Personally, this theory agrees with me more. It implies that you can learn many things from any kind of work or any working environment, as long as you’re willing to learn. In the working environment, only a few may be lucky enough to do the kind of work they like unreservedly, and it’s more common to be assigned a type of work you might not want. Yet it’s true that even in the case of undesirable work, what that particular work means to you can change or you can still learn much from it, simply by modifying your attitude or viewpoint. Everyone experiences this to some degree. At first, you may be negative about a particular job, wondering why you must carry it out. But once you’ve completed it, you’ll realize that you’ve become a better person by accomplishing it.

Repeating experiences like this increase the number of things you’re capable of doing. As a result, the people working with you will start to rely on you and eventually you may be assigned the kind of work you’ve long wanted to do. You’ll have a sense of accomplishment, feeling that it was good you didn’t avoid that particular task at that time and that overcoming any negativity has made you who you are now. You may not think this conclusion is necessarily warranted, but wouldn’t it be far less common otherwise for you to be able to know what you really want to be in the first place?

5. A Company That Provides Everyone with Opportunities to Grow
I think that at our company, this means that there are always opportunities to grow no matter who your client is, no matter what your EC is, and no matter which section you’re in, as long as you maintain the right attitude and point of view. Those who are aware of such growth opportunities will grow without any help from others. But not everyone’s aware of this from the beginning. Or even if you are aware, it’s human nature to try to seek to avoid the kind of work one doesn’t want.

Since we belong to a community called Meitec, I believe that part of Meitec’s DNA is a caring attitude that gently reminds people to become aware of their growth opportunities. This applies to both engineers and back-office sections. I think that enabling as many members of staff as possible to recognize their growth opportunities is a great attraction for a company. Such an attraction will lead to a growth strategy under Real Global Vision 21, which aims to expand the field where all employees of the Group can show their real strengths.

August, 2008