The Importance of Culture and Collaboration
I joined Akamai Japan in June 2020. Of course, having worked in technology for my whole career, I already knew of Akamai and our strong reputation. I knew it was an intelligent company, with impressive technology, and - above all - a great story that really inspired me.
One thing that has struck me since joining is what I would call the "University culture". I had a series of very structured and organized training sessions as a new hire, but there was a real emphasis on interactive learning. We may have been communicating over video calls due to the pandemic, but we had whiteboards and other collaborative tools to use too. I think this is very reflective of the overall culture in the business. It's a relatively big company, but without too much hierarchy or arbitrary processes. There's a real feeling that you can make things happen, and I'm excited about that.
I've always enjoyed the kind of collaboration that comes with working for an international company. On the whole, working culture in Japanese domestic companies is different. It's very stable; you are looked after as an employee both professionally and personally, and most people stay with the one company for their whole career. In contrast, within international companies people tend to move roles and employers more frequently as new opportunities present themselves. There's more of a mix of colleagues, and I enjoy working with people in different countries because you have the chance to learn about different cultures, and hear more diverse perspectives. That's what makes it interesting.
In a way, joining during COVID-19 when we are working remotely hasn't been too daunting because I'm very used to speaking with colleagues all over the world via video calls. I was sure to introduce myself and set up initial virtual meetings. I am the first female Director in Akamai Japan APJ, and honestly I was surprised to find this out, because there are many women here with strong technical backgrounds.
Sometimes I'm asked about the challenges I've faced as a woman working in technology, but I've never really thought of being a female as a challenge. Instead I see it as an opportunity. I think I bring different skills than my male counterparts. Actually, I think we all bring different skills and perspectives. That makes our business stronger.
My advice to others would be to lean into your own unique qualities, because those will make you successful. I've always tried to do that, but I'm also grateful to the people I've worked with throughout my career. They have always been supportive, and I've felt appreciated for being myself.