Conohana-san of the Month August edition (Part 2)
In ‘Conohana-san of the Month’, we discuss the experiences of senior researchers who have successfully managed to balance their research/work with life events such as childbirth, childcare and family care.
◎Introduction of Ms.Nobuko HIRAGUCHI
Organization: NTT DoCoMo, Inc. (Director of the Supplies Division, in charge of Terminal Procurement)
・In the last interview, you told us why you entered the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Yamanashi, and about the times when you were recruited. This time I’d like to ask you how you work at the company. What kind of workplace is NTT DoCoMo?
The headquarter of our company is very close to the Prime Minister’s office, and is a high-rise building directly connected to a subway station. My department is on the upper floor with a great view, so I like it♪ After I started work, I was transferred from department to department. In the sections of communication system construction and maintenance, there were few women, but where I’m working now, the proportion of men and women are about the same. I can go out jogging or eating with some colleagues for a break, it’s fun.
・Your life seems to be fulfilling♪ Now you are a director, and a “woman in upper management” which is topical these days. What kind of process have you made to be in the position?
In my case, I was not eager to be promoted, and did not make any special effort for it at all. However I accepted the chance of doing various jobs and did not decline job relocations, and one day I noticed that I had become a director (lol).
・Was that so?! Didn’t you have any fear when you were promoted to a managerial level? Also I’d like to know, what is the charm of being in upper management?
It’s not true if I say I didn’t have any fear when I was promoted, but each time you go up to the next stage, you’ll have a different view. There are special tasks that only upper management can deal with and make decisions in, which are interesting. When in a team with the help of your people, you can achieve more influential work than doing it by yourself.
I often hear that some women decline promotion, and that is because they are not confident, but if the personnel affairs department has decided to promote you, it means that they judged that you are capable for the position and there’s no need to be reserved. There are a variety of management styles, and there must be one suitable for you. Women don’t have to pursue a conventional method taken in the man’s world. I hope that more women feel free to challenge.
・What do you think the secret of enjoying work is?
I am optimistic by my nature, besides, I don’t compromise my playtime.
Yes, playtime (lol). My motto is “to enjoy my life”. What I’m aiming for now is “to have a long vacation and go to Galapagos Islands for diving!” Before I married I had often traveled abroad. Well, (using up the digits)…to 26 countries in all, I think. Visiting Gaudi’s architectural structure and seeing a soccer game in Spain, or snorkeling with whale sharks in Mexico, I really enjoyed. Those fulfilled playtimes might have been the energy for my work. And a fulfilled work might have made my vacation pleasant. I don’t know which comes first, but as for me both have been enjoyable.
This must be one form of “Work-life balance”. By the way, I will display a poster at the event “2014 Summer School for Female Middle-High School Students ~Encounter with Science, Technology, and People~” hosted by the National Women’s Education Center. On the flyers to give away for young students, women who play active roles in various enterprises related to mobile phones are introduced (I’m on it, too!)
In Japan, women’s job separation rate due to childbirth and childcare is still high. Women’s employment rate is said to draw “M-shaped curve” and is not yet resolved. But in reality, once they leave their job for a period of childcare, the percentage is very small for them to go back to regular employment. So I don’t want them to easily “leave” their job. It depends on the company, but it must be remembered that the upper managerial level may have an easier time. In recent years our environment and the systems have been rapidly improving, and the role models of working couples who help each other are often introduced. I’ll be glad if a larger number of the young generation will obtain such information and utilize it.
I’m also in charge of women’s networking at the Tokyo branch of the alumni association Yamanashi Kogyokai. I am hoping that those who work or live in Tokyo get to know various role models through the events etc. presented by the association.
・Thank you for a very persuasive talk which no one but Ms. Hiraguchi can present. We at the Support Office for Female Researchers also hope to be helpful for women who are active in various fields, with the keywords such as “work-life balance” and “diversity”.
I really appreciate your giving us this interview of enjoyable and useful content!