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Otsuka People Talk

March 2013

Global Project Leader

It has made me realize that Otsuka Pharmaceutical is a company that gives employees opportunities to take on the challenges that they are interested in.

With a BA in economics, she entered Otsuka Pharmaceutical as a Medical Representative (MR). After joining the company's Overseas Challenge Group, she became inspired to study English intensively. Today, she is in charge of a team planning Otsuka's central nervous system (CNS) pharmaceutical business in the U.S.

  • In collaboration with NHK Enterprises, Inc.

Becoming a Medical Representative

When I graduated from university, the job market in Japan was very tough. Although I applied to about 60 companies, I decided I wanted to work for a company that provides career opportunities to women. I heard that companies with a lot of female executives are more supportive of female employees, so that is how I chose who I wanted to work for.

Although I intended to apply for a position in beverage sales at Otsuka Pharmaceutical, since I had submitted my resume to as many as 60 companies, I could no longer remember exactly what positions I had applied for. At the interview, the Otsuka representative asked me "You applied for an MR position, right?" Since I couldn't say I applied to be an MR by mistake, I just said yes, and that is how I came to be an MR here!

The pharmaceutical sales area is very specialized, and you need to know a lot before you can visit a doctor's office. The required study is especially difficult, and during the first three months after joining Otsuka I studied more than I had ever done before in my life. At first, I was nervous just to visit a doctor's office, but gradually I became better at my job, and I saw the doctors adopting drugs that I had introduced to them. I was an MR for ten years, and I found it very rewarding to be able to build personal relationships with many physicians.

Overseas Challenge Group led to an opportunity in overseas business

I love Japan, and I had intended to work in Japan all my life, so I never thought about going abroad to work. However, last year I joined our company's Overseas Challenge Group, and I learned that unless Japanese employees start working abroad, it will become increasingly difficult to advance our various businesses. It was then that I began to study English, and now I have a position in overseas operations.

The group consisted of about 30 young MRs, and together, over the course of six months, we learned about business directly from the company president. The study sessions lasted five hours at a time, and we also read books, had discussions, and gave presentations on how to apply what we had learned in our own work. Everyone involved became very inspired; we learned a lot about business, and began to consider what we needed to do to work abroad. One of the purposes of the group was to select several people to handle Otsuka's business areas overseas. When the group began, the president told us to speak out as much as possible and say whatever came to mind. During the meetings, my brain was really stimulated, and whenever the president asked us what we thought, everyone would quickly come up with a response. By the end of each meeting I was exhausted and my head hurt from all the thinking!

TOEIC score improved by 340 points in six months

One reason I worked so hard for six months in the Overseas Challenge Group was to learn the essence of business. The other reason was that if I could achieve a score of 830 or more on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), I could be considered as a candidate to join the business planning department and be put in charge of an overseas business area. By that point I had decided that I really wanted to work abroad. Although my initial TOEIC score was only 490, through a lot of study I managed to raise it to 830. I really just made it under the wire to achieve my current position. Every weekend I attended a TOEIC class from 10am to 6pm. I was also doing a wine course at the time, which involved a lot of study too. Since there was so much I had to remember, I decided wine wasn't necessary, quit that course, and even stopped drinking wine entirely. So for half a year, I studied intensively like a student preparing for university entrance exams.

Otsuka offers its employees a lot of opportunities to take on challenges

In addition to the Overseas Challenge Group, our company has other study group meetings; we even have a Reptile Group! A lot of different people have got involved, and the groups have energized many employees at Otsuka. They are certainly one of the interesting aspects of our company.

My work is actually very challenging for me now. I belong to an overseas business team for the central nervous system product area, and my job involves a lot of trips to the U.S. I always remember that I took this decision myself, and studied as hard as I could to make it this far, and that makes me happy. It has also made me realize that Otsuka Pharmaceutical is a company that gives employees opportunities to take on the challenges that they are interested in. There is a lot of freedom here, and challenges are given to motivate employees without discrimination. It is a very supportive environment for those with the curiosity and motivation to take on various interesting roles. The corporate culture provides us with a lot of independence, and I think it is great company for those that are self-motivated.

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