As a young boy, Tokai Hiroshi (respectfully called Tokai-San) loved rockets and airplanes. He would toy with all things mechanical and dreamt of building airplanes with a company like Boeing. While that dream never took flight, he studied simulation mathematics at university and began his journey as an engineer in a Japanese multinational company in Tokyo where he engaged in internet infrastructure. Eventually, when he realized that he preferred working more closely with customers, he moved into management. Today, he is a sales director in Intel Japan. In a recent conversation with him, he reflected on his approach to work, management style, and what he does when the going gets tough.
“My philosophy when it comes to management is trust. I believe that mutual trust is key in engaging a team—and even with customers. Building that connection is vital. When things get challenging and when a market is in flux, the collective effort becomes more important than ever because no one can do it all alone.”
Tokai-san believes one of his greatest assets lies in the ability to identify other people’s strengths. Be it technical or soft skills, he leverages these abilities as much as possible to move the organization forward. Drawing parallels with a sport much loved by his country, Tokai-san thinks business is very much like baseball. “A team consists of 9 outfield players. We don’t need everyone to be a home-run hitter, we need good pitchers and runners too. So in this sense, I’m always thinking about how to play to everyone’s strengths and to leverage the diversity of talents to get the team moving.”
Turning challenges into opportunities
Tokai-san constantly stays on his toes, never allowing himself to get too comfortable and always ready to make the most of challenges that arise. “Dealing with challenges takes me out of my comfort zone and puts me in a learning zone. And I like this pressure because it often opens up new possibilities and opportunities.”
The pandemic is certainly proving to be one of these moments not only for business and the economy, but also for Tokai-san personally, as he really enjoys face-to-face meetings and spending time with his team in person. “I love communicating directly with the customers and employees, so it does get annoying sometimes that I can’t!”
But having said that, he does acknowledge there are silver linings to be found. “I’m an optimistic person—and I’m always thinking about how I can adapt myself and the team to deal with the ever-changing situation.”
Tokai-san makes sure to stay connected and transparent with his team, especially during this period of remote working. “When I’m at the office, I can see in person how everyone is doing. And that’s why I trying to organize virtual chats with my team as much as possible, to keep engaged with my team—and to remind them that they can come to me with anything.”
Working from home himself means he is able to establish a better work-life balance and spend more time with his two young kids and wife, who usually has her hands full caring for the children. He’s also found time to read more. From books on living and management to the newspaper, working from home has given him greater flexibility to try new things and for self-improvement. Working towards having greater balance has been an opportunity for him to recharge and sharpen his thinking.
Never stop learning
Apart from developing his team, Tokai-san often consults his manager and colleagues for their perspective and advice on his own long-term career and growth prospects. This self-solicited feedback serves as a reminder that there is always room for growth and keeps him motivated.
He says that this is also largely influenced by working in a nurturing environment. “Intel Japan is a great place to work because there’s a great sense of openness and an emphasis on evolving and challenging yourself—the culture is unlike many other big corporations here.”
As for people interested in growing their own careers at Intel, Tokai-san shares the reminder that, “At the end of the day, it’s up to each us to keep challenging ourselves. So my advice to you would be to constantly put yourself in a learning zone, because that’s the only way you can keeping growing.”
Interested in an exciting and challenging career like Tokai-san’s? Explore opportunities at Intel Japan today.