From Tremont Street to Tokyo
The first thing Kei Ikeda, BSBA ’20, had to do in preparation for his new job in Japan was fly to Tokyo in mid-May and self-quarantine for 14 days.
“I didn’t see anybody,” he says. After that, though, things started looking up.
He completed a 10-day training program for Japanese logistics company Senko and, in early June, was assigned to the international sales department, which focuses on supply chains. As a global sales assistant, Ikeda is in charge of distributing products to clients across the globe, including the Netherlands, Morocco, Egypt, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
“The fun part of my job is I get to work with a variety of people across the world,” says Ikeda, who double majored in Global Business and Entrepreneurship. “I deal with customers, suppliers, and transporters. Everyone has a unique way of working, and I have to learn how to adjust to them and make their lives easier.”
Ikeda credits his time at Suffolk with teaching him how to respond to diverse environments. “There’s always a variety of people from around the world at Suffolk, and that prepared me for what I’m doing now,” he says. “When you walk into a classroom, more than half of the students seem to be from outside of the U.S. I found it interesting to interact with a mix of people.”
West meets East
As a global business major at Suffolk, Ikeda already was very aware of the differences among business cultures around the globe. And having interned at Global Immersions, a study abroad/homestay agency, while a Suffolk student, he had a good understanding of business culture in the west. Bringing that mentality to a Japanese company—even one that’s a multinational—has been an interesting paradigm shift.
“I feel some entrepreneurial spirit,” Ikeda says. “I want to take the best of the Western-working-style environment and adapt it to the Japanese style. For example, I try to crack a smile each morning and say, ‘Hi. How are you doing?’ Japanese businesses don’t usually do that.”
He’s also been approaching his boss to try and understand more of the business and get information about what is expected of him.
“Some people look at me and say, ‘You’re so Americanized,’” Ikeda says with a laugh. “On the other hand, others say I have a lot of energy, and I love that.”
Ikeda says he’s most looking forward to traveling for work once that’s possible. In the meantime, he’s adjusting to life in another country and loving his job.
“I’m enjoying every moment living as a business professional,” he says. “And I can act like a business professional because I learned it in the classroom at Suffolk.”