Shan Gao

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From Asia-centric roots to a future in Western markets

I was born in QingDao China, I lived in Japan for almost 15 years before joining Sekisui Medical. Over that time I earned a BA degree in Information Management from Shizuoka University, handled production control at an auto parts company with China-based factories in the Honda Group, and helped sell restaurant ordering systems and other electronic equipment to customers in China, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Sekisui Medical was on my radar before I came aboard in January 2014. The company has an established reputation for quality, and sophisticated product lines in diagnostics in the domestic market, along with rapidly expanding businesses in Europe and North America. Sales in overseas markets already surpass sales at home. The combination of quality with brisk and stable growth in a company is a natural draw for anyone with career ambitions.

When I discovered that a position had opened at Sekisui, I contacted Human Resources to plead my case. I was positive that my work experience, language skills, and steady hand could support the company's drive to expand overseas. The opportunity to work with more the world's leading countries in business was another attractive point.

Keeping track all at once, like an air-traffic controller

I am responsible for order processing and export logistics coordination for the EU and North American markets. I receive orders from customers in Canada, the U.K., the U.S., and Germany, arrange production schedules and shipping schedules with our Tsukuba plant, and handle technical requirements during shipping such as constant-temperature storage for reagents, compliance with IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, and preparation of documents regarding animal-derived components.

On occasion I fly overseas to double check that our products are shipped exactly according to specifications, to meet with customers to improve our current ordering process. I enjoy the challenge of keeping so many processes in motion at the same time. Sometimes I feel like an air-traffic controller guiding dozens of planes in the sky.

Another perk is the chance to communicate with many different people every day. First, I talk with the customer to explain when an order needs to be placed to promise timely delivery. Second, I contact the production department to forward the customer's requests and reconfirm the production schedule. Third, I remind the QC department about the upcoming round of quality tests the order will require. Fourth, I send our logistics team details on the shipment specifications and delivery schedule as per the customer requests. Last, I talk with our forwarder to let them know when to pick up the order from our Tsukuba plant and book the shipment with the airlines.

Teamwork, curiosity, and respect

Teamwork is a Japanese tradition that's still faithfully practiced at Sekisui Medical. People coordinate so precisely, I often wonder how they manage. Strong communication is part of the formula, as well as a flat organization. The lines of communication from department to department are fast and direct. When I contact someone in production or logistics, I know my voice will be heard. People from different parts of the company collaborate by instinct instead of getting in each other's way. Work flows faster as a result.

Sekisui Medical is also an accommodating workplace for foreigners like me. The people here respect cultural difference and value personal opinion as a rich source of knowledge and learning. Coworkers in my international business department are especially open-minded. On breaks we often exchange notes on our cultures. They ask me all about China and tell me their experiences here in Japan. The more we share, the more we feel the same. I never get the sense that my Japanese colleagues shut out other cultures or feel alienated by their own customs. Even though we are from different countries we focus on doing our jobs objectively and reasonably.

I should also mention that, as it is a Sekisui Chemical group company, Sekisui Medical offers a superb welfare package, and it also provides a wide selection of learning programs, both online and in our offices.

Westward-bound with growing company

Europe and North America are the next big frontiers for Sekisui Medical and the markets where I want to be in my coming years with the company. The experience I have already gained working with foreign customers and the internal departments who support them puts me in an ideal position to oversee sales promotion and project management in those regions. With that experience, with the backing of our people in sales, production, and logistics, and with Sekisui Medical's forefront products and services, I am working with just the right ingredients to sell, grow, and refine our foreign business.

Earlier I mentioned my coworkers' respect for cultural difference. They have a curiosity and open-mindedness about the rest of the world that will favor Sekisui's path forward as a globally expanding company. I also mentioned the direct lines of communication we have within the company, and how that enables us to act smart and act fast. As a company we are young at heart and think flexibly. These are the strengths that will support our growth as a company and inroads into the markets of other cultures. I want Sekisui Medical to keep those strengths and to use them to its best advantage.

1day schedule

  • 石井 絢子
  • 髙田 功大
  • 丸山 賢一
  • 伊藤 奈央
  • 叢 雅娜
  • 山田 有理子
  • 津村 沙織
  • 前田 健一
  • 小笠原 康介
  • 兼信 正貴
  • Brendan Devers
  • Shan Gao
  • Haruna Yamada
  • Jonathan Ho