Training for overseas staff is held at Hakuhodo Headquarters every October–December. This year, Hakuhodo Network Indonesia’s Wimala Djafar (Associate Director of Strategy) and Pricilla Tirta (Copywriter) attended the three-month-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.
Haneda-bound, we were ready to dance to the beat of the bustling, high-energy city of Tokyo. Greeted by the chilly winds of Shinjuku, we met the kind and generous Hiroyuki Niwayama, the Creative Director who would be our mentor for the next 90 days. He guided us to the classic yet iconic Shin-Nakano neighborhood, our home for the next 90 days. Although only about two train stops away from Shinjuku, the atmosphere of Shin-Nakano is a world apart. Away from the hustle and bustle, it has a quiet, authentic local energy that lets you relax as the city sleeps. Shin-Nakano offers more than just a peaceful atmosphere. It is also a place where you can absorb the true character of Tokyo’s residents: men and women who commute, families and the elderly.
During our stay in Tokyo we were posted to three different departments and had to complete and master three different tasks during our training.
First, we worked with the International Market Design Division, handling global clients. This thrilled us because we were able to have global work experience in the truest sense. It was a new experience, because normally in our own country we work with global brands in the local market, but at HQ we had the chance to work with global brands on a global scale, collaborating with many other countries.
Second, we were sent to the Market Design Human Capital Division which collaborated with Hakuhodo Univ. to create a unique project for us. Our goal was to create new initiatives to gain new business opportunities in the Indonesian market. Consequently, our task was to work intensively with 19 Tokyo-based account executives. This is where the intensity of the global work processes that we had heard so much about started. We faced various barriers during our work processes, including language barriers and culture barriers, and even just deciding where to eat could sometimes be a challenge. But we got through it all because of our shared mindset, which was a collective consciousness. We had the same end-goal that we needed to deliver, so we worked hard to overcome our differences. Every single week, we had to present our campaign proposals in front of Hakuhodo giants Morihiko Hasebe (ECD, Hakuhodo Inc.), Kentaro Kimura (APAC Co-Chief Creative Officer, Hakuhodo Inc.), Devi Attamimi (Executive Planning Director, Hakuhodo Network Indonesia) and Hiromitsu Numata (Executive Manager, Hakuhodo Univ.). Experiencing their feedback, comments and advice firsthand was an eye-opening experience. The whole project taught us that in this digital and automated age, we need to be more human because great ideas can only move people if they have strong human insights.
Our stay in Tokyo was not solely about managing projects at HQ; we also strolled and explored Tokyo and got to experience a plethora of wonderful Japanese culture. Sometimes we took separate paths on the weekend. Wim explored some tasty local dishes and famous cafes, while Cilla preferred strolling around Azabu-Juban or the Roppongi nightlife to find a chill place to hang out with locals and learn a bit of Japanese. When we were exploring Tokyo, we took time to watch other people, talk to the locals and understand the philosophy behind every food journey. These experiences enriched our understanding of the Japanese character and emotions.
We consider ourselves to be the luckiest two people in the Hakuhodo network! Not only did we get the chance to stay in the dreamy metropolitan city of Tokyo for almost three months, we also got to meet, work with and become friends with some incredible people! Lots of generous, kind-hearted people took us to various heartwarming, tummy-pleasing places. We learned the Japanese concept of omotenashi, which translates as being hospitable to guests so that they have a wonderful experience. One good example of omotenashi was when we were taken for dinner at a chankonabe restaurant. Chankonabe is a Japanese stew containing hearty chicken broth, vegetables and fish in one large pot. Our friend told us that the reason they wanted us to eat chankonabe together was because they believe that people who eat from the same pot will be considered close family.
As Hakuhodo employees, we had heard the term “sei-katsu-sha,” the defining concept of the company, which sees people not as consumers but as individuals with their own lives, aspirations and dreams. Coming to Tokyo was our chance to delve deeper into it, but after working here, we realized that “sei-katsu-sha” isn’t just a term, but a philosophy embedded within every employee here. We learned that “sei-katsu-sha” is not just something you put in your PowerPoint deck or behind a creative rationale; it should be living inside you. As communication professionals, our biggest tool is our ability to understand people’s behavior. When we truly understand people’s behavior, we can predict their future behavior, how to move them, and what excites them, and drive them towards the common purpose that they share with a brand. Unwrapping sei-katsu-sha here in Tokyo for 90 days became one of our best professional and personal experiences.