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Otsuka People Talk

March 2013

Global Project Leader

The position of Otsuka today is that it gives opportunities to both men and women who work hard.

After graduating from a Japanese university, she took a job in a department store. Later, she earned a degree in film at California State University, Long Beach, before joining Otsuka Pharmaceutical as a Medical Representative (MR). After four years, she transferred to Otsuka's marketing department, and is now a young leader of global projects for the U.S. and Europe.

  • In collaboration with NHK Enterprises, Inc.

Earned a degree in film in the U.S.

My background is a little bit unusual. After graduating from university in Japan, I started working in a department store selling art. Then, I decided to follow my childhood dream of going to a U.S. university, and I got a degree in film. Finally, as fate would have it, I joined Otsuka Pharmaceutical.

To be honest, I did think about working in film. However, I knew I wanted to take on a new challenge in a very different line of work, and I decided to hunt for a job in a completely different industry. Once a year, representatives of large Japanese companies gather in Boston, providing students an opportunity to interview with them. I was lucky enough to get an interview at the Otsuka Pharmaceutical booth. I knew it was very unusual for film majors to apply for jobs at mainstream companies, and sure enough, most companies turned me away as soon as I mentioned my degree in film. Although the Otsuka recruiter naturally asked me why I decided to apply to Otsuka with my film degree, I didn't sense any kind of barrier at all. It felt like Otsuka would give me an opportunity regardless of my gender, experience, or title.

Joined Otsuka and became a Medical Representative in Japan

At first, I thought the company would want me to work in their global business, but instead I was given a job as an MR, selling pharmaceuticals in Japan. I didn't know anything about drugs or diseases. Many of the other people hired at the same time as me had degrees in pharmacology or science, and of course I was the only one who was a film major. Although I learned from everyone else, it was very challenging at first.

We had tests every day. Once the day had ended, I would review and prepare for the next test - it continued like this for about half a year. After the MR training, we had to pass a certification exam to officially become an MR. I remember how happy I was when I passed the MR exam.

A desire to be involved in global business

I was an MR for four years. After joining the company, I kept talking about wanting to be involved in the global side of the business. However, my boss told me to keep working hard, saying that if I didn't achieve a good sales record, it would always hold me back, even if I did make it to the next level. So I began my sales work with the understanding that I wouldn't be able to do anything without first learning about products on the frontline. I worked hard, and achieved decent results, and then with my boss' recommendation, I was sent to the head office: I had arrived at the next level with pride and confidence. I was assigned to the domestic marketing department. However, since I was handling a drug that was being sold worldwide, and since I could speak good English and knew the opinions of staff in Japan, I was assigned overseas work, and spent about half that year in the U.S.

Motivated by a discussion with the president

Our sales in the U.S. were not performing so well. Although the poor sales were not my fault, when I reported the news back to the head office in Japan the company president sternly asked me if I was willing to do something about it. He asked why I was sent to the U.S., and told me to seriously consider the situation there and how to turn the business around, as if it were my own business. In most companies, the president wouldn't get upset with someone at my level in the organization, and at first, I couldn't believe that he was holding me responsible for the U.S. sales, but later I realized he had done me a favor.

With the goal of improving sales and to have as many patients as possible benefit from our pharmaceuticals, I worked toward the same targets as the U.S. team. As a result, the sales did recover. It was so rewarding to help the U.S. team implement big changes and turn the situation around - everyone was happy. I'm now accepted as a member of the U.S. team, and they're glad whenever I visit. When they have problems, they ask for my opinion.

Shared goals with colleagues worldwide

The fact that I am now able to work with different people around the world makes me really glad that I joined Otsuka. Even though I work with the U.S. team, I'm also now working with teams in Europe and Asia. I'm very happy that I can talk with colleagues worldwide, and discuss the same Otsuka products and how to best carry out our work together.

The diversity of Otsuka Pharmaceutical

All the global product staff are actually women. Otsuka Pharmaceutical is a company that does not discriminate along gender lines. It does not hold with the notion that men should do this, and women should do that. Rather, the company gives opportunities to the men and women who work hard. If the company's goal was just to sell pharmaceuticals, then they would just hire pharmacists and science majors, but the fact that Otsuka hires people from a variety of backgrounds makes this company very interesting.

A company of opportunities

Otsuka Pharmaceutical gives employees a lot of freedom. It is a company that tells employees who have considered something seriously to give it a try. For those that work hard, the company will provide opportunities with impartiality; they only care about how well you do your job. So for example, if you want to go and work overseas, then prove it by getting a good TOEIC score.

Although there is the pressure of having to take responsibility for doing my job well, I am grateful for the wonderful opportunities I have been given. I believe that Otsuka provides these opportunities to everyone who is motivated.

Developing products to help patients worldwide

At the moment I am focused on a single product. My goal personally, and as a member of my team, is to enable this product to change the lives of patients suffering around the world, and to help develop it as a drug that really meets their needs.

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