Work and Person

Round-table discussion

Round-table discussion
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Tell us why you chose to work at JGC Corporation in Japan.

S:
Process Engineering Department (fifth year)
from China
D:
HSE Systems Department (eighth year)
from Nigeria

S: I am from China but I went to an American university. I majored in chemistry and chemical engineering, but I also studied Japanese. I came across JGC Corporation at a job fair in the U.S. and it appealed because the work was related to oil and gas and it offered the chance to work in Japan, so I decided to join.

D: I spent my student life in Japan and as I learned more about Japanese culture such as the concept of "WA"* and their dilligence, I started thinking about working here too. I wrote a thesis on plant safety at university, so it was a chance encounter with JGC Corporation because I had heard that among Japanese engineering companies, it placed special emphasis on health, safety, security, and environment measures.
WA: Japanese concept of harmony; Respect for order and harmony in a group

I: You both thought it through in a structured way. I didn't particularly intend to work in Japan from the beginning. I am originally from India but I graduated from a Korean university, and afterwards I came across some information at the university careers office and applied on the off chance. That was the trigger so to speak. When I went for my interview, I was surprised at how JGC Corporation treats foreigners and Japanese people in the same way. This was another of the company's attractions. Japan was familiar to me from my childhood, though. I often watched Japanese movies. That gave me an extra push and I said to myself that if there was a chance to work in Japan, I'd take it.

E: When I was in university, I did a ten-month internship program at a French company in Japan and I enjoyed the experience. The training system of Japanese companies for new graduates was quite different from the approach of American companies. I found JGC Corporation when I was browsing my university's career portal and saw a post about engineering jobs in Japan and thought it might be a good chance to work in a global company. At one American company I interviewed with they typically wanted about 10 years of experiencs before sending employees abroad because they want you to be an expert in what they are sending you to solve. With JGC Corporation, however, I was transferred to a construction site in Malaysia for training for six months in my first year. This chance to travel internationally is one of the major reasons I chose JGC Corporation.

I: I agree. I worked for several companies in India but good work opportunities seldom seemed to come along. In contrast, JGC Corporation is a decisive global company, so it offers lots of contact with the outside world, and there is always something new to learn. I find the global way of working attractive.

D: For me, overseas business trips have great significance beyond just work. I have been to Norway, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Indonesia, and others on business, and I feel my horizons are getting broader through learning languages I didn't know, eating foods I hadn't ever seen before and experiencing beautiful scenery. Traveling out of Japan, discovering different ways of thinking and different values and making them a part of yourself from the very beginning of your career surely enriches your quality of life, and much of this learning can be leveraged in business.

Does the work environment offer everything that foreign employees need?

E:
Packaged Equipment Department (third year)
from the U.S.A.
I:
Process Engineering Department (fourth year)
from India

D: There are many English speakers at JGC Corporation so it is easy to exchange all sorts of ideas within the company. Furthermore, the vast majority of our clients are overseas clients and communication with them is also in English. So it's a safe environment even for people who don't feel confident about their Japanese skills.

I: Although the Indian and Japanese cultures differ greatly, I don't feel out of place in any way because people at JGC Corporation turn their attention abroad and have an international way of thinking. It is a comfortable working environment even for me - a foreigner who is not very good at Japanese. Young engineers especially have a good command over English and I have never faced any difficulties related to language in my working environment . I'm very grateful for this environment.

E: My Japanese is fairly limited, but I don't experience any particular difficulties, because the department I am in deals largely with foreign vendors and foreign clients, so a majority of the people speak English. The training for new employees in October was carried out in English, which was helpful.

S: And it's not only the training programs; the amount of presentations and conference papers in English has increased recently. However, I think the thing is to be upfront and ask for help when you have a problem.

D: As for me, and I have never worked at a European or American company so this is only my impression, one of the particular characteristics of JGC Corporation, and in fact Japanese companies in general, is that when there's a problem, it is reported to the supervisor or their manager and advice is readily sought. In other countries, greater discretion seems to be given to the responsible employee, but at JGC Corporation, better solutions are sought by discussing problems from various angles with supervisors. A lot of importance is attached to teamwork. Although it may take time, it's better to let them make decisions.

E: But I do sometimes find that I can't provide a quick decision in situations because I need to consult with supervisors first. What do you all think?

D: I know what you mean. My impression is that at JGC Corporation work is done by the team, whereas in non-Japanese companies it's done by individuals. I can't say which is better but it is a unique work environment.

What are your future career plans and goals?

S: I want to work in Japan for JGC Corporation for good. I think I will not limit myself in process design. My plan is to acquire broader knoledge of the industry throughout my career in JGC by rotating to other disciplines such as project management. Then, using all the experience I gain over the decades, I hope to work as a consultant. I want to become useful to the company by acquiring new customers and developing new business.

D: I'm working as HSE* engineer at present, and safety consciousness in this industry has changed greatly over the past few years. Clients have also developed greater safety consciousness owing to their social responsibilities, and the improvement in safety management at work sites is visible. In the event that an explosion takes place at a plant, it is not only an issue for the plant; it has implications for the community too. New countermeasures are adopted every year and these changes are exciting so I want to continue this work and be in the forefront of plant safety. Besides design, I want to gain real experience of a construction related role, and my ultimate goal is to develop thorough knowledge of both design and construction and become a responsible person for safety management.
HSE: abbreviation of Health, Safety and Environment

E: I have only been at JGC Corporation for two years, and I'm glad to have been assigned first to the Packaged Equipment Department because there are opportunities here to obtain detailed knowledge about a range of equipment. Besides the design aspect, the negotiations with contractors in various countries have also been a good source of experience for me. I want to use my knowledge and experience from this department as a platform to eventually move into the Project Department. The Project Department controls the flow of the project in many respects, and I am drawn to the problem solving, the responding to clients, and the tackling of constantly shifting problems.

I: My career goal is kind of rapallel to JGC's management plan. I am very interested in making different pathways for business for JGC in the fields of investment especially in fastest growing economies like India. Since the foundation of JGC, we have been continuously developing EPC business in the oil & gas field as a core value, however, we aim to challenge ourselves by expanding business further into business investment & operation in some fields where we can make the best use of our knowledge obtained through EPC business in the oil & gas. After the acculation of skill and knowledge, I really want to jump in such business as an engineer.

S: Every department has its own appeal. Because JGC Corporation tries to respect our requests with regard to transfers, one of its advantages is that we can broaden our career paths infinitely without moving to another company. What's more, there are sometimes opportunities to join employee exchange programs with other companies where we can challenge ourselves in new fields in different environments.

Are you enjoying your lives in Japan?

S: In terms of my social life, I like to go out for a drink. There are so many great restaurants and bars in Tokyo and Yokohama*! I like shopping, too. One thing I love is that towns are clean throughout in Japan. It is a pleasant place to live because people wait in line, and social rules are observed.
Yokohama: *One of the biggest cities in Japan and where JGC's HQ is located.

I: I like going out for a drink, too! Besides that, I like taking pictures and I have been able to meet lots of people through photography. I started off taking pictures of models, and then began taking pictures of friends. Going forwards, I want to take pictures of natural landscapes. Japan is blessed with a rich natural environment, so you can really enjoy activities like trekking.

D: Speaking of nature, I have lived in Japan for more than ten years and you know, it is so nice to have all four seasons. I went to Kyoto* the other day and the autumn leaves were just beautiful. I enjoyed the Kiyomizu-dera Temple* illuminations. In winter, you can see the Kinkakuji snowscape. You can go to the beach in Yokohama, Zushi and Enoshima* in summer, and in spring, the cherry blossom parties under the blooming trees are wonderful. Nothing is fresh if the climate is the same all year round.
Kyoto: The former imperial capital of Japan famous for its beautiful nature and cultural heritage.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple: One of the most famous temples in Japan. 1200yeas has passed since its foundation and registered as UNESCO World Heritage.
Kinkakuji: Known for its luxurious composition covered by gold foils. One of the most famous temples in Japan, and registered as UNESCO World Heritage.
Zushi and Enoshima: famous beaches in Japan close to Yokohama


E: I agree. I like driving cars and often go out for a drive. A few weeks ago, I went driving the famous mountain roads and enjoyed natural scenery. What comes to mind when people ask what I like about Japan... I'd probably say it's the people I have met so far. I have met many colleagues at the company through the bond of employees who join in the same year, whereas in the U.S. people join at different times throughout the year, so you don't have that same sense of cohesiveness as a group. When you've got a problem or something you don't understand, this bond means you have good friends in other departments to help. The general tone of relationships among employees at JGC Corporation is a friendly one. I go out for a drink with colleagues after work occasionally. In my experience, this type of camaraderie is not as common in US companies and I am enjoying this aspect of the culture.

I: There is an exchange meeting of some form or other at JGC Corporation every week in which I am an active participant. I go for lunch with employees from different departments . In this way, I have opportunities to make new friends by being introduced to new people.

D: I belong to the JGC Corporation swimming club where besides regular training, there are events such as training camps to enjoy. You can create a broad network of personal connections because employees from other companies join the camps too. We have a company-wide futsal tournament once a year. It is an interdepartmental competition, but we go for a drink together after the games, which helps build mutually better relationships. I attend these networking events as a rule, when I am not on a business trip.

E: There is a ski trip at Christmas. Employees can take their families along, so it was nice to see my group leader with his wife and son on the trip last year.

I: There's always some event or other going on at JGC Corporation.

E: I think some foreign students worry about the costs of living in Japan with regard to enjoying their social lives. I compared my costs here with those I incurred previously while working at an American company, and I realized the cost of living is not much different. The company has its own staff dormitories and covers commuting costs. Being able to keep down housing and commuting costs in this way helps equalize the difference in salary. I think food costs in Japan and the U.S. are generally about the same. There are expensive foods and restaurants, but it's not difficult to manage your food expenses thanks to the wide range of choices.

How does JGC attract you?

E: On my training in Malaysia, I was accompanied by ten Japanese and eight foreign employees who had joined the company at the same time as myself and we had great fun getting to know each other better and tackling the same challenge together. The switching of roles and departmental transfers during the training was a very good experience for me to understand how each department interacts within the project. Knowing other department and how project goes helped me to think of my future career.

I: Gaining experience of many different departments during training is one of the great things you can do at JGC Corporation. In my case, being a process enginner, I also have future career options to be a comissioning enginner, mechanical enginner or a project engineer. So far, I worked as a pre-commissioning enginner for an year in Qatar and currently I am working as a project enginner in Vietnam. I believe this sort of career development plan is a unique part of JGC Corporation.

S: You can also experience many different things away from work sites. I have recently spent seven months working in Singapore as an instrumentation engineer. Even though my background is process design, I was able to learn about not only process control but also the hardware design of instrumentation technology. I didn't know the first thing about the cabinets and cable terminations, but a senior colleague, a higher-level engineer, guided me through the first few weeks, basically through on the job training. After that, once I was able to do the work by myself, it was left to me. It is a characteristic of JGC Corporation that senior colleagues help in the event of problems at both work sites and in the office, and it is good that we can quickly consult head office for advice too.

D: Yes, someone is always there to consult and help solve problems at JGC Corporation.

S: Another thing is that the relationships between supervisors and subordinates are not constrained by hierarchy, and supervisors are accessible even if they are not your own line manager. It is also possible to talk directly with the CEO when we have good ideas. For example, employees from China have the chance to get together every year and sometimes the managers themselves plan the dinner. It is a very precious opportunity for an exchange of views with regard to the JGC Corporation working environment, the Chinese market, and so on. I believe such an open atmosphere is directly conducive to a favorable working environment.

D: Working at JGC Corporation means working at a Japanese company, but it also means working with Japanese people who have experience of working and dealing with different types of foreign cultures. You'll certainly never be bored; it's a really exciting place to work.

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