As a strong woman with a thinking of her own, Emi Yamamoto is a changemaker that aspires to better the lifestyle of the Japanese society.
Starting out in the IT industry, Emi Yamamoto was a bright-eyed, driven engineer who had big aspirations to change the lives of people. She attributes her aspiration to her interest in changing norms and traditions and wish to change the conservative minds of those around her.
At the start of her career, she went through a phase of disillusionment as she felt disconnected to the large corporate enterprise projects that she had worked on. She felt that she needed to connect with project beneficiaries on a stronger, personal level. When the opportunity arose, Yamamoto-san switched over to join a short-term internal project that focused on creating innovative new businesses. Even though she failed to achieve any outcomes, the job was unlike that of her previous. Moving from the role of an IT engineer to sales and marketing, Yamamoto-san found the means to the ends that she had pursued since her career began. It was in such a position that she could create an impact in the way that she has always wanted to.
Contrary to the role of a systems integrator who serves to fulfil needs requested by customers, a marketer seeks to reinvent services. In her current project, she visited more than 150 business partners in an attempt to grow the business. Through such a process, Yamamoto-san picked up invaluable soft skills in the area of communications and negotiations and most importantly, the mind to “never give up”. She learnt the ways of positive thinking and kept going for another 5 years. Truly, Yamamoto-san’s hard work paid off when she clinched major deals for the company (the most valuable sales value that year) and received recognition as the first person to expand the business in a new area.
Today, she receives strong support from her company, Nihon Unisys, who provides invaluable exposure like that of the DBIC program on her journey to become a changemaker. As she shares, “no one has tried these territories before and there’s no (predefined) successful approach”. For individuals with great aspirations likeYamamoto-san, “focus on moving forward by failing”. Do not be afraid of failure.
Through her short stint in the DBIC Singapore program, Yamamoto-san had a first-hand experience of the cosmopolitan environment in Singapore. She shares that Singaporeans are interested in expansions across the globe, especially in the ASEAN region. Additionally, from the perspective of a foreigner, the people in Singapore take on a ‘understanding perspective’, responding positively and putting in the effort to learn about the cultures and needs of others. Yamamoto-san attributes this to the proliferation of innovation practices in Singapore, that such an orientation allows Singapore businesses to understand social problems.
Today, she is engaged in a project specialising in bettering the ‘last mile transportation’ for individuals in the suburban areas in Japan. This essentially refers to the provision of on-demand mobility services in the distances between the home and public transportation, as well as, workplaces and public transportation. The project was inspired by her visits to the suburban areas in Japan, which the transportation systems have worsened in recent years. She explains that with lesser services provided (one-hour frequency for buses), there were lesser users of the system and this resulted in a reduction of revenues that prevented transportation providers from improving their services. It was essentially a negative cycle that might lead to the obsoleting of transportation systems in the distant future.
In Nihon Unisys, women are given provisions to support their roles as active contributors of the company. Opportunities to scale success are abundant and assistive support in their role as parents are also well considered and catered to. Examples of such includes flexible hours and work from home schemes that allow mothers to care for their children whilst maintaining their careers.
Laws established before the age of digitalisation and the slow adoption of digital devices are obstacles for Japan’s endeavour to shift towards a smart nation. However, as the country gradually opens itself to international relationships, it is a good time to pivot and change. Time is definitely in the equation and a radical shift in traditions will be key in helping edge the country towards greater sustainability.
This post was written by Narcissa Koh, Content Strategist of DBIC.