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Reason for joining ZEON and the early years

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Transitioning from a Singapore government agency to directly developing Zeon’s international business

I studied chemical engineering and Japanese language at the National University of Singapore. After graduating, I joined a world-class manufacturer of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Two years later, I started working for a Singaporean government agency, where my job was attracting foreign companies to Singapore, and one company I worked with was Zeon.
I was interested in chemical manufacturers and in how companies venture into new businesses. And by coincidence I learned that Zeon was planning its foray into Singapore, so I decided to join the company, driven by the desire to experience that process from the perspective of the business advancing into a country, instead of being on the receiving side.
My role at Zeon has been to develop and implement business plans as we launch operations in Singapore and around the world, which includes negotiating with local representatives. While I speak English and Chinese on top of Japanese, I’m usually assigned to negotiations requiring languages other than Japanese. I’m very excited about my job since it’s not just about planning plant construction but also involves thinking through how we should develop our business centered on a plant.

Current work

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Currently developing a business plan for our Singapore plant with the challenge of bringing a sound understanding of the Japanese decision-making process into negotiations

The Singapore plant began operating in March 2014 and will be a key international supplier of chemical products. We have to determine the types and volumes of products it will handle as well as their ultimate destinations. I keep in mind our mid-term management plan when business planning. I have to envision what the ideal positioning of the plant and associated businesses will be in 2020 as I engage in ongoing discussions with our local business partners and our Production and Engineering Technology and Business divisions.
Naturally, I can’t formulate business plans on my own. So, I spend half of each month in Singapore working with the Japanese staff. I’m still building up my Japanese proficiency and understanding of Zeon, so I’m continuously learning at work.
The hard part for me is understanding the ways Japanese do business and how they think. You have to read between the lines during any meeting in Japan. Imagine a meeting in which a decision on an issue has been made with some reluctance, and many opposing opinions have been raised. As you take that decision into negotiations with an overseas company, you have to reflect various nuances in your efforts to communicate or win concessions.
Zeon values the opinions of each individual. At the same time, however, international business is conducted at a fast pace. Flexibility is always required in doing business overseas, and it’s difficult to reach complete agreement. This is what I’ve been learning, and I believe Zeon is also learning as it strives to become a more global enterprise.

Dreams of the future, life outside my job, and a message

My motivations go beyond bringing prosperity to my homeland toward being a part of international development.

Most of all, I want to successfully execute our business plan in Singapore. Chemical plants represent a vital element in developing this nation, and I’d like to communicate to people here that the steps Zeon is taking also benefit the country.
I don’t expect to work in Singapore my entire life. Contributing to my homeland is a major motivational factor now; I want to do my best work here. This motivation would shift if I were to work in another country. My approach is to set a major life goal and then break it down into daily objectives. Life changes, so it’s natural for my goals to change, too. What’s more, I don’t think it’s good to live life without any clear goals.
Compared to students in Japan, Singaporean students are more strongly focused on landing a job at the largest companies. As for me, I think working at a medium-sized, established company such as Zeon offers greater learning opportunities. You can develop your career and experience around the world at the same time. I hope that more students will seriously consider this type of company.

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