Appointed as a new project leader after only one year with the company
The first area I was assigned after joining the company was the suburbs of Shizuoka Prefecture and once I was able to deliver good results there, I was transferred to the central part of Shizuoka City. Coincidentally, that same year I had the opportunity to present a successful case representing the prefecture, at the overall meeting of the Chubu region. Then a director from the head office, who just happened to be there at the meeting, suddenly came up to me and asked “Would you like to manage a new project?” Though I was only with this company for about a year, I was chosen to lead a company-wide project. The project also had an unbelievably big budget. Everything was going so unimaginably well that I remember thinking that it was too good to be true! Until then, I had never left Shizuoka prefecture in my life, and now suddenly I was working at the head office in central Tokyo. It was so surprising, like something out of the movies.
The closer you get to central areas, the bigger your responsibilities become
I was on the new project at the head office for one year, and then promoted to be the Unit Manager in Chiba area. Afterwards, I was transferred to manage the city center with larger scale business. The closer I got to the city center, the more I felt I was being highly appreciated by the company. As I progressed with my career, I also realized that there were new challenges such as effective and efficient communication with the team that I needed to overcome. What helped me then was a training program that the company had for new managers like myself to lead a team. Before the training I was taking a very straightforward approach of giving direct orders. Afterwards, however, I learned to “clarify objectives and goals” and “to think logically about the root causes for each issue,” and I changed my style to allow the team to come up with their own solutions.
Your background does not matter for you to excel in your career
When I was in sales at my previous company, I didn’t see any future potential in myself or the company, since the business style was just about “trying to fulfill the sales quota”. On the other hand, Philip Morris Japan is completely the opposite, where the company encourages and supports its employees to plan and execute their job based on logical thinking. This organization evaluates you based on what you have delivered and provides career opportunities matching your capabilities. Gender or educational background is irrelevant in this company and thanks to this system I have been able to progress my career. Currently, I work as a manager for an area in Japan with the highest market share*, and manage a team of around 60 people. I could not have imagined myself in this position when I first joined the company and cannot imagine how much more awaits me in the future.
*Phillip Morris Japan market share (Source: Tobacco Institute of Japan research)
The word I cherish, “I think”
People grow by thinking on their own, setting up strategies by themselves, and by trial & error. We are able to create a bottom-up style organization because of this. I cannot coach such a large team by myself, so I conduct an “I think” coaching session to the people managers under me every month. Then at some point the people managers under me began to say “actually, I’ve started coaching my team as well”. That made me really happy and this is how “I think” spreads among my entire team. This cycle leads to self-growth, and I believe that at some point it will lead to the growth of the entire company as well.
For those considering a career at Philip Morris Japan
The good thing about Philip Morris Japan is that it is not a top-down style company. On the other hand, I think that in many ways you have to think on your own whilst conducting business. I think this is a company that enables you to think for yourself, and grow.