May Edition, 2013 (Part 2)
In ‘Conahana-san of the Month’, we introduce experiences of senior female researchers who have been successfully managed their work-life balance between research/work and life events such as childbirth, child care and family care.
Welcome back to our interview with University of Yamanashi graduate, Ms. Kaori Kanemaru.
She has been actively working for HAYANO-GUMI Corporation after graduating from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering. Along with her career, she is married and has a baby. Following Part 1, where we mainly heard about her fruitful campus life, let’s ask more about her job.
・You started to work in the construction industry as an engineer and were sometimes assigned to actual work sites on major road construction, etc. Were your colleagues surprised to have a young lady like you among all the male members?
Yes, they seemed very surprised (lol) As I imagined, there were basically no female engineers at construction sites. Many craftsmen I met there took good care of me. Some looked a bit scared at the beginning, but those people were also very kind and guided me through every task (lol)
An on-site engineer is supposed to supervise those craftsmen, but I learned a lot from them as a freshman. Sometimes I was allowed to assist their work, through which I learned a lot of basics of the construction process.
・Even with such OJT back-up, how did you deal with heavy physical work?
As you can imagine, it was a heavy work. I’m rather small in stature, but held heavy surveying instrument on my shoulder, climbed up hills, and set building basement guides with other members. Such power-demanding work made me realize the physical gap between men and I but I did my best not to get behind! I used to have nice biceps.(lol)
・Your positive attitude and effort must have moved other members and they must have offered a lot of help to you.
Even with everyone’s kind help, sometimes I felt lost and wondered where to position myself in such a male-oriented workplace. Reading many books helped me in such situations. I read various kinds of books, not only ones directly related to the job. I also re-read textbooks that I used in university. I would have studied more seriously back then if I had known how much practical knowledge was contained in those textbooks (lol)
I am also working on qualification tests. I passed the tests of class-1 architect, class-1 engineering work-execution process-supervisor, class-1 surface finishing, class-1 landscaping, concrete engineering, associate professional engineering, surveying, etc.
Now that I both work and take care of my baby, it’s not so easy to make time to prepare for exams, but that’s not a reason to stop and I’m planning to take another test this year, too.
・You are such excellent role model for proactive career building♪ Not only that, but a good balance with your private life is a key to the Support Office activities. How do you see your “work-life balance”?
My husband is also active in both house work and child care. Although having started as a beginner, he has now learned how to house keep and cook well. He is also able to sense when to give milk and change diapers. So we share house work and child care in turns without any problem now. Our parents who live in Yamanashi are also supportive. Thanks to all our family members, we can keep a good work-life balance.
・You have ideal relationships with your husband and other family members. Did they support you going back to work after maternity leave?
Yes, my husband and parents understood my decision. Since I went back to work, I have truly realized that continuing my career after maternity leave requires support not only from family, but also from the workplace. My child is 1 year and 4 months old, and goes to nursery school. She actually catches a cold from other babies almost every week and I often take off from work to take her to the hospital or to take care of her at home. Also, I can’t work overtime as I need to go pick up my child every evening. In spite of such negative impacts to the team, I feel thankful from the bottom of my heart to my supervisor, colleagues, and the entire company environment for being understanding to me and allowing me to do this. I also keep telling myself that I shouldn’t be spoiled by their caring and kindness and I always concentrate on my work more than 100% during working hours.
・Can I have a message to young people based on your experience?
To those who are getting married and having children in the future, working and rearing a child at the same time may require a lot of energy, both physically and mentally. But your baby’s smile will enable you to forget all the difficulty. You need to pay full attention to work and the child, but not so much to house keeping (lol) Don’t try to be perfect, but be flexible. Do not give up and you will find a way. I wish you the best!
Now this is to all the student readers, especially girls majoring in science. After I started to work, I realized that I used to have a lot of time during university years. You may not be able to tell what is useful and what is not for your future career but I recommend that you try out any kind of study, and take any opportunity for a new experience while you still have time. All experiences will help you maybe in an occasion where you didn’t expect it to help.
・Thank you! I wish you health and prosperity in the future, Ms. Kanemaru!
I could see the steady strength behind her cute smiles and brightness. This interview made me feel that maybe I could also go much further and expand my own life.
I checked the pond on campus after the interview, but all I found were carp. Where did the turtle go??>