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Software development must emphasize global "customer experience values". I want to create new value through dialog.—Munehiro Kura, Joined Hitachi in 2010 after studying in Washington,the USA, and now works at Information & Telecommunication Systems Company, IT Platform Division Group, IT Platform R&D Management Division.

What are you currently working on?

I work on the design and development of storage management software. Hitachi's software development meets changing global needs through the holding of hearings to collect and consider customer opinions, with a system to feed this information back into product development. As storage management has been growing into an increasingly important part of system management in recent years, the exchange and sharing of information with distributors has been an indispensable part of clarifying the issues facing customers and proposing new solutions. At present, I communicate with product managers at overseas distributors by using a conference call system twice a week.
Although I create conference documentation in advance while clearly indicating the keywords, since the assumption is that in addition to the expected language barrier issues, there will also be differences in viewpoints and ways of thinking, I always try to communicate carefully. My current main responsibilities include considering the external specifications and graphical user interfaces (GUI) of software, based on the needs of customers as determined in this way.

How was life as an exchange student?

Although I was interested in English while attending my technical college, I didn't feel like I was any good at it, so I decided that I needed to do something "drastic" and made up my mind to study in New Zealand for about a year. After graduating from the technical college, I transferred to an American university in order to strengthen the information technology and English skills I had acquired, and studied computer science for the three years remaining until graduation.
By the way, the reason I attended the technical college in the first place was because I liked "monozukuri" in the broad sense, including programming.
I was really struck by how difficult studying in the US was. At first, I had to concentrate so hard on taking notes and I would miss what the professor was saying. Fortunately, thanks to my experience studying abroad in New Zealand, I was able to catch up in my classes after about two months of hard work. After that, it helped that I had shared assignments and group work where I could exchange opinions with other classmates, and I think living in a dorm environment where I was surrounded by English also improved my language skills.

What did you focus on while searching for a job?

I picked the company I wanted to work for by giving priority to finding a place where I could make maximum use of the technologies I had learned about. The reason I was interested in Hitachi was because since it was seeking to open up new global markets in the future, I got the sense that it would be looking for graduates with experience studying abroad like myself. Also, while I was searching for a job, I used the "job matching" system to speak with people from various departments in order to find the workplace that matched my own preferences the best. I think this was extremely helpful because it let me envision a concrete picture of how I would be working.
Hitachi has actually brought together excellent personnel, a global environment, and world-class technology. The workplace is full of brilliant people who deserve respect, and I am inspired every single day. For instance, during brainstorming sessions, I discover new perspectives that I would have never thought of myself, and there are people who are able to switch gears without fixating on a single idea, as well as people who are very good at explaining things. I am also working every single day on learning how to be like them, myself.

How did you go about searching for a job?

Since I was concentrating on my studies with graduation as my number one goal, I had gathered almost no information about finding a job. When I first started searching as a senior, I finally came up with a vague idea that I wanted to do software development in an environment where I could use my English.
Then, during the summer vacation of my senior year, I went back home to Japan to search for a job. Since my time was limited, I participated in the Tokyo Career Forum so that I could use my time efficiently and focus on companies who were proactively hiring international students like me.
As I spoke with the human resources people of several different companies, I gradually began to realize what weapons I had at my disposal. I think the key to my success was how I made sure to impress the interviewers with my main PR points, specifically that I had studied information technology and computer science for seven years at the technical college and university levels, and that I could use English.

Is there any strength you acquired while studying abroad that you can apply to your work now?

That would be the ability to communicate. My perspective grew quite a bit while I studied abroad, as I learned just how difficult it can be to communicate with people who have different values from your own. These days I participate in mutual developer reviews, and with all the opportunities to exchange opinions, I find that the work is directly related to my experience repeatedly doing group work with fellow classmates, which is helpful.
Communication skills are required in every type of situation during design and development work. It goes without saying, but the reason is that "monozukuri" occurs between people.
Also, in order to propose better software during the development process, it is important to chew over feedback from stakeholders in every position, and to be able to reflect every bit of this feedback in the final product, without giving up. The difficulties I had to endure while studying abroad helped me cultivate toughness and tenacity in myself.
I will continue pursuing "customer experience values" while repeatedly discussing what it is that customers truly want to achieve. Furthermore, I will work at becoming a developer who can continuously offer his own proposals with the international customer in mind.

Message to Exchange Students at Universities outside Japan

The ability to persevere without giving up is what is important. Apply what you have learned studying abroad to the fullest in society.

Daily Schedule

7:00 Wake up
8:45 Go to work
I check my e-mail to verify the day's tasks, including whether or not there is anything urgent that must be done.
9:00 Conference calls
Conference calls with the product managers of distributors located overseas. I look for items under discussion that can be provided within the range of investment costs matching the other side's requirements.
10:00 Work at my desk
After writing minutes for the conference calls, I distribute them and enlist the involvement of relevant departments. Since I am summarizing the minutes of conference calls that are held in English, I have to be very careful about the details of the expressions used, as well as other factors such as singular and plural forms.

Internal team meetings or documentation creation
Members of the team share information and exchange opinions. I create meeting documentation for the next conference call.
12:00 Lunch
I spend lunch time on the open terrace in the company cafeteria. This helps me reset my state of mind, clear my head, and smoothly transition to the afternoon's work.
13:00 Work at my desk
While formulating upstream process scenarios, I consider the functions I am responsible for so that I can resolve customer issues with new solutions.
14:00 Brainstorm by myself or with team members, and participate in reviews
The team listens to findings regarding functions other developers are responsible for and shares information. We consult with each other on any deadlock points. Team members gather in groups of ten or less in order to make proposals and debate how to move forward.

Participate in discussions with other teams
There are also quite a few discussions with people responsible for software testing and other stakeholders in various positions regarding development.
16:00 Consider functions I am responsible for at my desk
17:15 Dinner in the company cafeteria

Create documentation considering functions I am responsible for
19:00 Finish any remaining tasks before the day ends, if at all possible
20:00 Return home
23:00 Go to bed