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Complexity of not being able to master it.
I was born in Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture and moved to Narashino City when I was one year old. When I was in the fourth grade at school, I joined the orchestra club and started playing the flute. I was rather dexterous, so I think I progressed quickly.
However, in the 6th grade, my friends who had been working hard were getting better and better, and I began to think that if I continued at this rate, I would be overtaken. I decided that if I was going to lose, I might as well stop playing the flute, so I moved to viola because there were not enough players at that time.
The club won first place in Japan in a competition, but I had mixed feelings. Because I could not concentrate on the flute, I began to feel inferior, thinking that I would never be able to take the time to work on one thing and master it to the point of mastery.
When I entered junior high school, many of my club friends went on to master music and practice hard, but I was not ready to continue. So I joined the softball club, which I had played in elementary school. I practiced just as hard in the softball club as I had in the orchestral music club. Due to my father's work, we moved to Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture in my second year of junior high school, but I continued to play softball at my new school.
After graduating from junior high school, I went to a school with a relatively high deviation score. I had many friends who were reading very difficult books and who had various strengths, such as being second to none when it came to doing this or that. It was a fulfilling high school life, but I wondered where my strengths were.
I couldn't grasp the image of a working woman.
Since both my mother from Kansai and my father from Iwate went to university in Hokkaido, I had always thought that I should go to university away from my parents, so I left my parents and went to a university in Kansai, where I had lived when I was in junior high school and was familiar with the area. I chose the Education major in the Faculty of Letters because I was somewhat interested in people and education.
I didn't have much of an idea of what I wanted to be in the future. I knew somewhat about my career up to college from my mother's experiences, but she quit her job and was a full-time housewife by the time I can remember. Many of the mothers in my neighborhood were also full-time housewives, so I did not have any role models of working women around me, and I did not have a clear image of what I wanted to do.
When it came time for job hunting, I felt that I did not have any strengths in working compared to people with law or economics degrees, and I wondered where I should submit my entry. As I thought about what my strengths might be, I began to think that sales might be a good fit for me because I have always liked interacting with people. Furthermore, I also thought that I would like to be involved with one person deeply and for a long time, rather than in an ad hoc, fleeting relationship.
While going to various company information sessions, I felt that life insurance would allow me to have the deepest and longest relationships with customers. That is why I joined Nippon Life Insurance Company.
I want to make way for the future generations.
I entered the company in the current position structure of area career track, but at that time, the career path I could pursue was completely different from that of a career track position. Basically, I was only entrusted with sales work, with the possibility of being assigned to some limited sales support departments.
In my fourth year with the company, I was transferred to a department at headquarters called the Sales Education Department, which was in charge of training the 50,000 sales staff, creating training and educational materials, and producing programs to be played during morning meetings at sales departments nationwide. This was one of the few appointments from an area career track position, and the first in my fourth year with the company where I did not have a position.
The person in the department I was with told me, "If you don't work hard here, you won't be able to continue to be promoted from area career track positions. I felt that whether or not similar appointments would be made in the future depended on my work performance. I began to approach my work with a sense of mission to show others that there is a way to build a career like this.
Can eat rice with both hands.
After working in the Sales Education Department for two years, I was transferred to a department that supports sales staff, connecting the field and headquarters. After working there for one year, I had a child and took maternity leave.
During childcare, my child is my top priority, even more than myself. I had to hold my child in my arms all the time because she would start crying if I didn't hold her, and I couldn't even eat slowly. After a year of living like this, on my first day back at work, I went to lunch. There, I was very impressed that I was able to eat pasta using both hands. It was a rare occasion during my childcare leave when I could eat with both hands without carrying my child in my arms.
I felt that this was all thanks to my child, who went to daycare despite her grogginess, my husband, who allowed me to work, and my company, which allowed me to return to work, and I was overflowing with gratitude.
Since then, my approach to work has changed dramatically from before my maternity leave. Instead of doing the same things without much effort, I began to think and work in a way that I wanted to produce different results. I felt that if I could achieve more than I was given, I could repay the company for providing me with an environment in which I could work.
The first thing I was aware of was how to work efficiently. With a child waiting for me, I could not afford to work overtime as I had in the past. Still, I definitely did not want to lose productivity and wanted to get the work done that needed to be done.
So, for example, we have been trying to think of ways to shorten the time by, for example, providing training at the same time to those sales staff we support who have similar issues. As a result, we have been able to produce the same results as before even while leaving early.
I stayed in that department for six years, including two maternity leaves, and then I raised my hand to be the manager of the sales department. I wanted to be a role model to show that I could be a manager even with a child and contribute to the company.
Make use of the weapons you acquire.
I am now in my second year in the Planning and General Affairs Department. As a mutual company, the department's job is to manage the general meeting of representatives, etc., which is equivalent to the general meeting of shareholders in a stock company. Among these, my main task is to compile "Nippon Life Insurance's 130th Anniversary History" for the 130th anniversary of the company's founding this year. Nippon Life Insurance produces a company history every 10 years, and this time I am managing the progress in cooperation with more than 40 related departments in order to compile mainly the historical facts of the most recent 10 years.
In addition to my regular work, I also participated in the Nippon Life Accelerator 2018, a project for which the company solicited applications from the public. This is a project to launch a new business, not limited to insurance, together with a start-up company. I wanted to do something that would benefit the company and be a role model for other employees, so I decided to take on a job outside of my main duties.
In that project, I worked with a childcare-related start-up company to create a new business. I could imagine any number of things related to child-rearing, and I was glad that I had raised my children. It was the first time for me to be able to use my personal events in my work, and I felt that this was a job that only I could do, and I felt that it was very rewarding.
While working with the managers of start-up companies, I felt envious of their strong weapons, such as their deep expertise and strong sales fields. I realized that my weapons are, for example, the ability to involve and promote projects involving many people, which I acquired through the creation of educational materials when I was in the Sales Education Department and through the compilation of 130 years of history, which I am currently working on.
I would like to continue to use these weapons to achieve results in my assigned tasks and to take on new projects.
Personally, I would be happy if I could be a role model for younger employees to see how they can advance their careers while raising children and show them that it is possible to raise children while working. I would like to continue to expand the areas in which women and mothers can play an active role in this company.
*This interview was conducted on May 28, 2019,Another life.This is a reprint of an article published in
She joined Nippon Life Insurance as a new graduate in an area career track position. She pioneered the promotion of women to head office and became a sales manager while raising her children. She is currently working in the Planning and General Affairs Department, compiling the company's 130-year history.
This is a life experience service operated under the concept of "living your own story. By reliving other people's lives, we want people to learn about various ways of living and to have an opportunity to think about themselves. We want to increase the number of people who can find what they want to do in their own way, accept various values, and create a bright future together. We operate with this in mind.