Training for overseas staff is held at Hakuhodo Headquarters (HQ) every year. This year, Joshua Prakasa (Art Director, Hakuhodo Indonesia), Laurentius Erik (Associate Creative Director, Hybrid:H) and Kiew Yen Nie (Associate Account Director, Hakuhodo Malaysia) attended the eight-week-long training, and report here on their experiences in Tokyo. The purpose of the training is to experience working at Tokyo HQ first hand, handle global campaigns and enhance trainees’ skill sets in their respective fields.
We started our life in Tokyo, a city that lives the future, on August 24. The sun shone brightly when we arrived at Haneda, welcoming us to the country of the rising sun. It got even warmer when we met Hiroshi Tago and Yosuke Murao, who would be our guardians for the next eight weeks. They guided us to our apartment in the beautiful Shin-Nakano, which is very close to Shinjuku, Nakano Broadway, and one of our favorite areas, Koenji.
Our colleagues in Jakarta, who joined this training last year, said that Shin-Nakano is a good place to learn about Japanese sei-katsu-sha. It was eight stations to our office at Tokyo HQ, so we learned how Japanese commute. Pro tips: the weekday rush hours peak between 7 am and 9 am. Trains and schedules are rarely off, so the efficiency you’ve heard so much about is not a myth. Japan is clean, neat, organized and, best of all, it’s all standard operating procedure.
Now it was time for us to experience being Japanese sei-katsu-sha: learn about Japanese life, become real-life Japanese and people watch until our heads spun.
During our special training program, we worked with Japanese colleagues from different departments. Our goal was to create new initiatives to gain new business opportunities in the Indonesian and Malaysian markets, making one presentation each of the eight weeks we would be in Tokyo. We faced various challenges during our work, including language and cultural barriers. But these were our tests and we had to embrace them. We challenged ourselves to move out of our comfort zones and learn beyond our roles. We learned that insights and ideas can come from anyone: account executive, strategic planner or the creative division. We were happy to have nice discussions with the Japanese team, which helped us broaden our perspectives.
Spending eight weeks learning from industry leaders was instrumental to our creative growth. We had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to learn directly, face-to-face, with Kentaro Kimura, Morihiko Hasebe of Hakuhodo Tokyo, and Devi Attamimi of Hakuhodo Network Indonesia. This helped us to identify the client’s challenge and find the underlying desire of our target, and also to provide our client business opportunities in the future.
How to move people’s hearts is one of the key values we learned through this program. We not only learned how to generate an idea or solution, but also how to be great presenters. The whole project taught the three of us many things. But the three main things were to observe, to absorb and to perform. We observed not only our incredible tutors, but also our team group as they shared their work, insights and knowledge. They truly inspired us. We absorbed and realized how amazing the Hakuhodo network is. We feel proud to be part of it. Lastly, to perform. After going through all these amazing experiences, without a doubt, it motivated us to do better in our workplaces. We felt that these eight weeks of intensive training were the best professional experience we’ve had.
Our eight-week stay in Japan will be one of the most unforgettable times in our lives. We are all foodies and Japan is a food heaven, where chefs are very particular about the ingredients they use. We got to taste authentic Japanese cuisine like yakiniku, sushi, ramen and much more, thanks to our friendly colleagues at Tokyo HQ, who consistently offered us the best hospitality. And let’s not forget the must-have lemon sour and sake during every izakaya (Japanese pub) night. Without a lemon sour, it is not considered a good night out. Japanese culture is always inspiring. We were so impressed by the Japanese dining culture where people only focus on the food and spend quality time with friends during the whole dining session. In our countries, we tend to interact with our “virtual friends” more than the physical person and miss out on the taste of the food because we are too busy playing with our phones.
Other than food, the three of us liked to explore magnificent Japan every weekend. We traveled to Hakone, Kamakura, and other places in Tokyo during our stay. To live like a local, we didn’t usually fix our itinerary for each journey. We like to do random non-touristy things such as sitting by the shore at Inamuragasaki just to watch people surfing and on dates.
To wrap up our journey, we would like to use a magic word that represents everything our Japanese colleagues taught us—Otsukaresama deshita (thanks for your hard work)!