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Otsuka People Talk

December 2013

Product Marketing Manager for Calorie Mate

Those that enjoy taking on challenges will find it a truly rewarding place to work.

She earned a degree in education before joining Otsuka Pharmaceutical. For the first five years, she handled sales of nutraceutical products.In June 2013, she was promoted to product marketing manager for Calorie Mate, becoming the youngest person and the first woman to hold this position at Otsuka Pharmaceutical.

  • In collaboration with NHK Enterprises, Inc.

Voicing amateur opinions can lead to new ideas

When it comes to things I feel confident about, I don't worry about what other people think. At the same time however, I realize there is a lot to learn from others every day, and I am always open to improving myself. My previous boss often told me that I am very stubborn. In fact, on several occasions we had quite a strong difference of opinion and neither of us would budge.

I often disagreed with my boss, and would say so openly. But he encouraged this and rather than expecting me to just do what I'm told because I have no experience, he insisted that I voice my amateur opinions because they could generate new ideas. Due to this environment, there were times that I was really forward with my opinions. That boss still cares about me, even though I no longer work for him, and I appreciate that.

It's different when I'm not at work; I'm not so stubborn in my personal life.

An interest in nutrition

In junior and senior high school, I was a high jumper on the track and field team. Although I jumped well in junior high, in senior high I went through a growth spurt. I was convinced that my poor performance in competitions was due to weight gain, so I went on a crash diet and became ill. That was one reason I became interested in nutrition. The other reason also stems from when I was in high school: I went to a nutrition seminar given at a university, and staff from Otsuka Pharmaceutical were providing information about POCARI SWEAT and Calorie Mate. It seemed like an interesting company to me, and I was surprised to learn that these products had their roots in the medical field. After that, I clearly remember talking to a teammate about how it would be fun to work for a company like Otsuka Pharmaceutical. However, I had no idea I really would end up where I am today.

Earning the nickname the "Otsuka girl"

For the first five years after joining the company I did sales in Hokkaido. At first I found it very frustrating because customers did not seem to have any confidence in me, maybe because saleswomen were unusual there; they called me the "Otsuka girl." It made me determined to make customers remember my actual name, as I wanted to be recognized not as just a man or a woman, but as a person.

Consequently, I began to place more importance on communication. I honed in on the customers' interests and focused on what they liked to talk about. Rather than just talking about the business and numbers, I worked on building interpersonal relationships. I realized that you can't build relationships by only talking facts and figures. I wanted to become a part of their lives; in the end, my customers were calling me by my first name, "Aya-chan."

Youngest-ever marketing manager for Calorie Mate

In June 2013, I was promoted to product marketing manager, meaning that I am responsible for deciding the direction for Calorie Mate. While consulting with the relevant departments, I have to decide things such as the target customers for Calorie Mate, marketing strategies, and the kind of TV commercials we make.

When they first talked to me about taking this position, I didn't feel any kind of apprehension. I had almost a surreal feeling of confidence, and enormous gratitude that the company had offered me such a big opportunity.

Striving to give 120 percent

As a marketing novice, I found my new job very challenging. Since it required a broader outlook on data than my previous sales perspective, I didn't know which angle to take on analyzing things or even the appropriate investigation method. I worried a lot every day, and I'm sure there will still be a lot of challenges ahead. In the beginning there were so many things I did not know, and it was hard being in the dark; it was stressful and frustrating to realize the current limits of my knowledge and ideas.

Of course, there is still a lot more for me to learn, but I now feel that I have made it through that initial stage, and am now discovering more and more enjoyable parts of the job. I get excited when I find out some new information, and I look forward to seeing ideas put into practice.

Perhaps I have not changed that much from my time in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Whenever I am given a job, I never think about whether or not I can do it, I just try to give it 120 percent. I always sprint towards the finish line; it's a part of my core personality and will not change.

Sometimes when I'm stuck on a problem and feel discouraged, I think about how hard and depressing it would be to just quit. Then suddenly I'll get an idea, and as I follow up on that, I feel motivated again, and the feeling of hardship gradually fades.
By quitting when things get tough, I would only be left with the feeling of hardship, so that's why I simply don't quit.

Re-energizing a 30-year-old product

I have to make big, difficult decisions, and there are many things to consider. I do feel a lot of pressure.

My colleagues often tell me to think about the reason this job was given to me and not an experienced veteran. The fact that I don't have experience makes it more likely for me to believe that anything is possible, and every day I remind myself that it is important to have new ideas and new ways of thinking.

This year, the Calorie Mate brand is celebrating its 30th anniversary. It has been quite a stable product over the years. However, we now want to make it a more energetic brand that better fits the time, while not losing the original character of the product line. It's no easy task!

A great company for people who enjoy responsibility

The corporate culture at Otsuka Pharmaceutical gives employees a lot of freedom. The company gives responsibility to positive employees who truly believe they are capable, regardless of their experience or gender. While that means that people who cannot handle responsibility and prefer to just be told what to do might find it difficult, those that enjoy taking on challenges with a positive attitude will find it a truly rewarding place to work.

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