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August 17, 2017

[Scholarship Graduates] ABE Initiative (8): A dream comes true to work globally in Japan! (Private Sector)

This series introduce scholarship graduates who keep striving towards a better future even after the completion of the program.

This time we focus on Mr. Fabian Mukanzi (MBA, Doshisha University), who was employed by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation during his stay in Japan soon after the graduation from this program.

* ABE Initiative: Master's Degree and Internship Program of African Business Education Initiative for Youth, launched by Japanese Prime Minister ABE in TICADV in 2013. Participants are from private sector, government officials and educators broadly.

When Fabian Mukanzi recently visited JICA Kenya office, he was reliving memories of his first time to JICA, when he attended the ABE Master's interview as part of the application process. This time however, as a graduate of the Global MBA Program at Doshisha University, it was a visit of elation as he had also secured a job in Japan.

For Fabian, the interest to work in Japan came from the desire to work in an international organization. Following his internship at Omori Kaisoten, Ltd. (http://www.omori-kaisoten.jp/en), an international freight forwarder, he became very focused on fulfilling his dream. He attended career fairs organized by the university and by JICA Kansai looking for the opportunity to work in Japan.

He attended quite a number of promising interviews, but because of language barriers, could not proceed beyond the entry interview. This caused him to put extra effort in Japanese lessons including private lessons to strengthen his language skills.

As part of the university activities and in a group of four students, he took part in J-MBA, a competition organized by 14 universities from all over the world. They earned 2nd place and their performance also impressed job-recruiters who were in attendance. One recruiter from Mitsubishi Fuso met them as a group, and initiated the job application process. He actually did not know he had gotten the job until July, and began work immediately after his graduation.

He has since identified differences in his work life compared to his Kenyan job experience. In Japan, he is part of a special Graduate Top Talent Program which essentially gives international exposure and experience within 18 months (http://www.mitsubishi-fuso.com/content/fuso/en/aboutus/career/career_program.html). The job is rotational – working in different locations and different sectors. There is emphasis on building an individual and no guarantee in getting the job you began with. They take time to look for one's special talent thus making it more of a leadership/manager-training.

They learn on productivity, attention to detail, leadership which is very different from a job in Kenya.

He also learnt that most Japanese that he interacted with did not do professional courses since recruitment happened during their undergraduate studies. The companies would select staff based on personalities and then build their staff. Their working culture is also different from Kenya – Japanese working hours are longer though some organizations are now striving for work-life balance. This is distinctly different from the fixed hours here in Kenya. They are also taught to be more result oriented and have clear timelines so as to work in time. There is greater accountability as staff - even new staff - are trusted with assignments to work on independently. There is no micromanagement of work as everyone is responsible for their work.

Settling down in Tokyo from his previous university residence in Kyoto was quite tough especially since Kyoto was a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the hectic life of Tokyo. He was however pleased that the company had a policy to use English as the official language since Mitsubishi Fuso is partly owned by Daimler.

Fabian's recommendation for international job seekers is to learn Japanese language well and have a willingness to study. He found that Japanese recognize effort and recognize skills in individuals. ABE students are encouraged to attend career fairs to understand how recruitment is done. He also advises that they check career websites, network and talk with many people. Ideally it takes almost one year to get a job – so to utilize part of their school time wisely. Interviews take about four months for the responses to come in as the process is long and slow.

His final words of advice – apply for the ABE Master's program. It is a great opportunity and can lead to working abroad which can in turn lead to many opportunities for growth and partnerships. The Japanese people are welcoming with their opportunities if you can overcome the language barriers. Working abroad may not be easy, but it is great for an individual. Japan is becoming a global hub for international students, and all are welcome.

PhotoFabian in Kawasaki plant in Japan

PhotoFabian visited JICA Kenya before going the company's training in Germany

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