Home> Careers> Zeon employees and their work> Based in the United States, reaching across South America and gaining experience from different cultures
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  • Based in the United States, reaching across South America and gaining experience from different cultures

Reason for joining ZEON and the early years

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Amazed by the broad customer base of a chemical manufacturer
Gaining deep insight into synthetic rubber at old town factories

Influenced by friends and colleagues when I started looking for a job, I initially focused on financial companies but then quickly realized finance wasn’t for me. I was introduced to Zeon by a senior in my after-school club. To be honest, I hadn’t ever imagined working for a manufacturer of chemicals and materials. At a job fair, however, I found myself intrigued by Zeon’s broad range of customers. And since I was looking for a job that would allow me to interact with different industries and people, I decided to take the leap and join the company.
After working for a year in the General Affairs and Human Resources Division at the Tokuyama Plant, I was transferred to the Synthetic Rubber Division. Its First Sales Section catered to tire manufacturers and its Second Sales Section was responsible for selling rubber products to other industries. As a member of the Second Sales Section, my first assignment was to sell oil-resistant special synthetic rubber to small factories in and around Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.
This proved to be a really good learning opportunity. The presidents and employees at the factories were keen to share with me – a complete novice – their knowledge of synthetic rubbers, based on their extensive experience and skills. And I feel that my foundation for my work was established at these factories.
I was subsequently assigned to increasingly larger companies and ultimately placed in charge of the second biggest company in the Tokyo Group. This customer continually sought new products, which provided me with lots of opportunities to visit along with laboratory staff members, further opening my eyes to the fascinating world of cutting-edge knowledge and Monozukuri (manufacturing). My years in sales have been a very fortunate period, for which I am truly grateful.

Current work

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Transferred to Zeon Chemicals in the United States
Taking on the highly competitive tire market

At the end of 2010, I was transferred to my current position at Zeon Chemicals L.P. (ZCLP) in the American state of Kentucky.
My mission there has been threefold: selling products to Japanese companies doing business in the United States; managing the sales of synthetic rubbers to tire manufacturers, and acting as a bridge between the country and Japan. I have especially focused on expanding the sales of synthetic rubbers to tire manufacturers. Since our new plant in Singapore has started producing new tire materials, I’m looking for ways to develop new markets for the materials in Central and South America as well as in the United States.
While large-scale manufacturers dominate the global tire market, local manufacturers in Brazil continue to grow, so I visit Brazil and Argentina every few months to negotiate deals. South America is the farthest market from Japan, and seeking out new customers there is exciting.
It takes a long time to close a deal. With so many competitors out there we need to be very careful in our marketing. But we’re gradually beginning to see results, which is particularly satisfying given the significant hurdles we’ve had to overcome.
What I’ve become acutely aware of since moving abroad is that things never go as planned. Although there are a few Japanese working at ZCLP, we use English for most of our work. Due to the differences in culture and ways of thinking, even matters the Japanese hardly need to mention among themselves must be completely and convincingly explained before everyone takes the necessary action. On the other hand, once people are convinced, the work takes off at a pace that would be unimaginable in Japan. Because we cover an immense area, we only have time for one business meeting a day. And sometimes things happen out of the blue that would never occur in Japan.
Taking both the difficulties and surprises in stride makes every day an exciting adventure.

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

Continuing to gain even more international experience…
I believe that is possible at Zeon.

As a student I was terrible at math and chemistry, and I didn’t want to leave Tokyo, much less venture overseas. But work has broadened my perspective to the point that I now want to go head to head with the world’s leading chemicals manufacturers on their home fields.
Don’t be disappointed when things don’t go the way you want; instead, take on the challenges of your current assignment. As I got to deal with many different people in the United States and South America, my own problems began to seem too small to bother with.
As long as my family is open to the idea, I’d love to take on another assignment in some other country. This makes Zeon and its numerous business areas perfect for someone like me who is eager for new challenges.

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