In April 2020, a state of emergency was declared for the first time in Japan to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This meant that employees who joined the company in April of fiscal 2020 had to start working from home in their first year. Even now, they may still be working from home while coming to the office from time to time. Under these circumstances, how did Tokyo Century’s new graduate employees participate in on-the-job training (OJT)? Did they feel connected to the company? We interviewed three of them so we could share their experiences.
Tokyo Century’s OJT: A system that helps new employees build their knowledge in actual working conditions for one year after joining the company, and senior employees in assigned divisions serve as trainers.
The Personalities of OJT Trainers Ease the Anxiety and Nervousness of New Employees
――Do you remember the first time you met your OJT trainer?
My trainer is the type who consistently lifts the spirit of the division and is very friendly. During the hiring process, I had the opportunity to hear the story of senior staff, and I met him once. So, I was surprised when his name was announced as my trainer at the entrance ceremony.
When I first met my trainer, he noted that I must have been nervous because my face was so red. I asked him a lot of questions, partly out of anxiety. He answered each carefully and also said, “Just do what you learned during training, and you’ll be fine.” I still remember how well that helped me to calm down.
I felt the same way. I had never been so nervous when I first met my trainer, and I don’t remember anything about our conversation. His nice smile is memorable.
――What was your first job?
In my division, I am in charge of IT equipment leasing. My first job was to prepare the quotations required for leasing contracts.
At the time, I couldn’t help but notice minor differences between the contract date and lease date, which clearly indicate when the equipment is secured and the rights and obligations for using it. So, I continually asked my trainer questions to learn more.
The first thing I had to do after training was create a list of vessels.
I was assigned to the Ship Finance Division, where I made a list of the names, sizes, and uses of ships owned by our customers. I think my first success was when my trainer commented on the quality of my work.
My first task after being assigned to the Americas and Europe Business Division was to prepare documents for a comparative analysis of the financial documents of our peer companies in the same industry.
Under the guidance of my trainer, I made a number of revisions to the documents to make them visually easier to understand. So, they were very useful for understanding the scale of the market in each region and lease targets, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of our company.
New Employees Felt They were Growing Even during the Pandemic
――How do you try to adapt while working from home?
I started working from home as soon as I joined the company and was only able to come to the office for a few days, so I found it difficult to manage my schedule for a while because I had to learn to do my job and complete deliverables while determining what work I should do in the office.
I try to divide up my responsibilities to use my time more efficiently. For instance, I take care of desk work, such as preparing contracts and analyzing customer finances, at home. And at the office, I attend meetings and ask the senior staff questions.
My biggest problem was the time lag before I could ask my trainer work-related questions. I sometimes felt frustrated because if I were in the office, I could speak directly to my trainer and get a problem solved right then and there.
I decided to make clear how much I wanted to speak to him by calling him and setting up an online meeting with him when I needed to. Of course, I could not always get through to him right away, but he always got back to me afterward. So, I’ve been able to take action without hesitation or anxiety, saying to myself, “If I don’t understand, ask.”
That attitude is really important. If I talked to my supervisor every time I had a question, he wouldn’t get things done, so I waited for the right time to come along. While waiting, I feel that I’ve developed the ability to summarize the main points.
When working from home, however, I sometimes found it difficult to maintain my concentration, so I tried to refresh myself to stay sharp by playing background music or exercising.
I have been listening to classical music while studying since I was a student to help me concentrate. It’s like a switch is flipped.
――What support or advice did your OJT trainer provide?
My trainer thoroughly prepares in advance of meetings with his customers, and he also explains information obtained from research in a very clear and logical way. I learned a lot from his attitude toward his job. I feel that I need to learn to explain things better, so I still look up to him as a role model.
Speaking of the way of talking, my trainer noticed my tendency to spend too much time introducing an idea and advised me to “start with the conclusion.” I still keep that in mind. My trainer has strong observation skills for discovering issues and the ability to put ideas into action. This motivated me to absorb a lot from him every day.
I appreciate my trainer’s advice on how to speak and how to prepare myself mentally. He advised me to be more confident. He paid attention to even trivial things. Looking back now, I’m deeply grateful that even a short conversation with him led to a stronger sense of mental well-being.
――When did you feel that you had grown as a person?
When I submit a document to obtain approval for a project I’m in charge of, I need to add my own comment as the sales representative, and that comment serves as the basis for the performance forecast.
In the case of IT equipment leasing, I have to read and understand the corporate data of the lessee, such as financial statements and capital adequacy ratio, as well as related market trends, and to consider the likelihood of earnings from multiple perspectives.
At first, I didn’t understand the meaning of the capital adequacy ratio. I had to learn how to write up the comment on my own. And I felt a sense of accomplishment when everyone in my division accepted what I’d written. I was also glad when my trainer said that I’d become more dependable.
I felt a sense of growth when I was able to understand customer needs while following the procedures for a ship financing project.
When I first started my job, I couldn’t understand what was written in the contracts. My supervisor and trainer explained it to me, and from around the third project, I was able to see the whole process and take the initiative in dealing with customers and sharing progress within my division.
Also, once when a problem came up in a project and I consulted my trainer about it with a solution, he said, “Actually, I didn’t teach you about that problem intentionally. I’m impressed that you found the solution on your own. That’s what I was expecting from you.” His compliment also gave me confidence. At that moment I knew that my trainer was good at complimenting his trainees.
One day, I was told that the materials I mentioned before were being used when responding to inquiries from other divisions. When I heard that, I felt that I’d actually made a contribution to my division colleagues.
When I worked with Allegiant Partners Incorporated, which became a member of our group in 2019, I facilitated a meeting that brought together representatives from Japan and the United States. In the course of sharing a supplementary explanation to materials while proceeding with the agenda, I noticed and pointed out a discrepancy in the interpretation by the person in charge on the U.S. side, and my supervisor thanked me for making helpful comments. That left a strong impression on me.
Change in the Image of Working at a Company and Message to Future Tokyo Century Members
――Have your impressions of Tokyo Century changed since you were a student?
I am amazed at the scale of the business, as we do business with a number of world-famous companies and major companies in the top tier of the maritime shipping industry.
I didn’t think I would become really interested in my work for a long time, but I have been given a lot of responsibility since my first year, and I feel more fulfilled every day than I ever imagined I would be.
I had assumed that a company organization would generally have a more rigid atmosphere, but I was relieved to find that our work environment was comfortable and friendly. I sometimes even ask for advice on personal issues.
――During the COVID-19 pandemic, job interviews are more frequently being conducted online, and I’m sure that job seekers are experiencing some anxiety. I think that first-year employees at Tokyo Century are also facing a similar situation to yours during the pandemic. What would you like to say to them?
When I was looking for a job, I learned about the leasing industry for the first time and was attracted by Tokyo Century’s corporate stance of developing businesses by solving problems rather than by making products. There are a lot of industries and companies out there that are doing amazing things even if they are not well known to the world. I hope that you’ll find the right job for you by actively participating in online career information platforms and career forums while thinking outside the box.
Here is the message I would like to share with all new employees: convey your ideas from our own perspective without worrying about your career experiences! Of course, I intend to do the same!
While I was job hunting, and now as an adult, I’ve continued to remind myself that I should not overreach. Instead, I must believe in what I have gained so far and that there is no success without failure. I think it’s important to practice in order to be able to deeply express your intentions, significance, and thoughts in words.
After the first year, I really realized how “practice makes perfect” leads to growth. From the second year onwards, I’d like to continue to convey the importance of practice to all new employees while personally practicing as a source of growth.
I always tried to keep smiling and being cheerful no matter what. And I also asked myself questions. For the sake of both your motivation and desired type of job, I’m sure your answers will become clear if you delve into the source of your motivation and why you want that type of job.
Looking back on my first year, I can honestly say I wasn’t as worried or anxious as I thought I’d be. Senior staff took all possible measures to support us, and they maintained high expectations for us. So, I hope that you’ll also feel at ease, stretch a little, and confidently demonstrate your abilities.
Creating a New Future by Weaving the Organization’s Dreams with Your Own
――Finally, what are your dreams and goals for the future?
I am now able to handle all my tasks through OJT, but I’m still only working on the foundation built by those who have worked here before me.
I’m also in charge of DX-themed proposal activities in my division, so I’m determined to come up with a groundbreaking idea that will lead to new developments in our co-creation business. To this end, I’ll continue to improve without neglecting the need to include basic skills and knowledge such as English and legal affairs.
I have two goals. First, I want to work on projects that require asset assessment abilities. Without solely relying on conventional credit criteria, I’d like to identify the true value of assets and create new standards of value to contribute to Tokyo Century’s unique business development.
Second, I’d like to develop environmentally sound businesses. If we can get more involved in this field as an operating company with a financial function, I believe that we’ll be able to quickly expand the Group’s ability to achieve sustainability and contribute solutions to social issues.
I also have two dreams. First, I’d like to take advantage of our trainee system to work overseas. In Tokyo Century’s international business, it’s not uncommon for employees to be assigned to overseas subsidiaries as trainees just a few years after joining the company. I want to absorb a wide range of different values and ways of thinking early in my career so I can contribute to businesses development that transcends national and regional boundaries.
Second, I have a dream of participating in the launch of a European office. If Tokyo Century were to set up a local subsidiary in Europe, I strongly hope to be a part of it.
Ship Finance Division
Joined the company in April 2020. Engaged in the ship finance business in the Ship Finance Division, mainly for overseas ship owners. He enjoys playing soccer, attending plays, traveling, and reading.
IT Equipment Business Division II
Joined the company in April 2020. In charge of leasing sales, mainly specializing in IT equipment. Also engaged in proposing servitization and DX products and promoting new businesses through co-creation with IT partners.
His special personal skill is doing backflips.
Americas and Europe Business Division
Joined the company in April 2020. After being assigned to the Americas and Europe Business Division, she was in charge of PMI of Allegiant Partners Incorporated, a subsidiary acquired in 2019, and promoting collaborative business with Japanese vendors. She is currently in charge of promoting the sales of CSI, an IT equipment leasing subsidiary in the U.S., and collaboration with NTT, with whom the company formed a business alliance in February last year. She enjoys visiting coffee shops, traveling overseas, dancing, and singing.
*The contents of the article and the position titles are as of the date posted.