Hello, I'm Benoît Chapurlat
Senior Program Manager
Master in Engineering,
Mechanical Engineering and Bio-robotic
Ecole centrale de Lyon and Tohoku University
English, Japanese, French
My name is Benoît Chapurlat, France nationality. For the last 3 years, I have been working as Senior Program Manager in Amazon flex and I have been living in Japan for 14 years.
Back when I was in the undergraduate program in France, I studied the Japanese language because of my curiosity, I just want to learn something different. Then, at that time, my university signs a new partnership with Tohoku University and asking for a volunteer who willing to study in Japan. I signed up for that program because at that time I already learned English, so I want to go somewhere that speaks another language than English to learn a new language.
I was not fluent in the Japanese language when I first came to Japan. If I were to rate myself I would be somewhere in the N4 Level but then I started my first 6 months in an intensive Japanese language class for 25 hours/week. It is part of my master preparation because most of the classes are in Japanese, but I can write my report in English.
What Did You Do During College?
Most Memorable Thing I Did During College
Most of my activities are joining an international event or international student activities. I also did arubaito/ part-time job teaching France and English, and once a week I had a France club for Tohoku University’s students who are interested to learn about France.
What I wish I had done during college
When in college, I didn’t have a good preparation for my next step, I just study and enjoy university life and I start very late to looking for a Job. I planned to join the multinational company and skip shūshoku katsudō, just contacting directly to the foreign/multi-national company. So I think, some career guidance or start to contacting a company while I still a student will be really good at that time.
What Career Advice Would You Recommend Job -Hunters?
Be Patient and Understand the Cultural Difference
I think it is very good to be patient, to be able to understand if someone thinks differently than you, understand why they do so and try to listen more. Because if you come from different culture, sometimes it is surprising for you to see how business is done in Japan. The only way to face this is to understand why and understand the benefit behind this culture, but not necessarily imitate them. Try to still be yourself, be authentic, but still fit in the company environment. By being different you will bring diversity within the workplace and It will be the major benefit to both you and the company.
Understand the Business Culture
One of the differences between France and the Japanese business culture that I experienced is that in Japan, early in your career they will ask you to learn and follow your senior. It is similar to a mentoring program. Whereas in France, there is no such thing as mentoring. You will receive an assignment and you have to figure it out by yourself. So in Japan, your early career will have less responsibility compared to other fresh graduates. There is a strong hierarchical structure when it comes to fresh graduates in terms of responsibility because the main task for new employees would be learning and understanding.
What are the Benificial Skills Needed To Work in Japan?
Do what you love
At the start of your career, choosing the right company because of the status or because of the entry salary is not important. The important thing is trying to find something that you are excited about, something that you love to do. I believe if you do something that you love, you will have better improvements as a professional and be good at it in a few years. After 3-4 years, most probably recruiters will come looking for you providing new opportunities. Students have to understand that their first job will most likely not be your final job.
If you join the company only because of their well-known company without having any interest in that field, it is not going to be fun for you and it will end up being hard for your future. Doing something that is fun for you usually will make you more eager to be good at that field and will open a lot of opportunities for your future.
Japanese is a Must
In my experience, most of the companies and recruiters will you if you are able to speak Japanese. To be specific at least JLPT N2 level or above. Unless if you are a programmer or other specific skills such as engineering, software development, etc that don’t have any big relation corporate role, the Japanese language is not necessary. Although if you have the ability to speak to a near-native level, more doors will definitely open for your career path selection.
Soft Skills and Moral Code
Skills in Japan is mostly dealing with moral and code, or how they are doing something, try to understand the basic politeness of their culture and not being too selfish. Be more humble, think about the group fist before thinking about yourself.