Hi, I’m Alex Pedrinis. I come from Lyon, France, and was introduced to Innovative Solutions Inc (ISOL) by a friend, Jenell, whom I met during my exchange program at Keio University in 2017. In this entry, I will be talking about my reasons for accepting the internship offer, job scope and responsibilities, as well as how a typical work day looked like.
Why and how I joined ISOL
I lived there for one year as a student, but I wanted to know more about the working culture here, so I thought, why not go back for work this time round instead?
Jenell, who is working in ISOL, connected me with one of the recruiters so that I could learn more about their business operations and what they do; it was a very personal approach as I did not have to submit a long cover letter and answer a list of questions before applying. I decided to give myself the chance to work in Japan for a period of 5 months as I also wanted to specialize in Supply Chain industry. So that was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to.
ISOL was very kind in helping me with the administrative procedures for the temporary working Visa and getting approval from my university.
About the role
In the beginning, I was given the opportunity to learn about iGrafx, a BPR and Simulation software, and was taught the proper process to drawing business processes following the international BPMN 2.0 approach. In addition, I was also tasked to study about a Warehouse Management System (WMS) by one of the market leaders worldwide. The learning got a little more than intricate as I was expected to know the minute details of every function shown on every screen. But it was also the period when I learnt the most.
My biggest task was with an automobile industry. Sometimes, on these days, I was sent to an on-site warehouse, far in the west of Tokyo. There, one of our clients owns a humongous warehouse, where I had the chance to see actual warehouse operation. It was a rare chance to witness how a warehouse was designed and the technologies they were utilizing and glad that I had the opportunity to follow through a part of modernization project with the latest warehouse management system ISOL was supporting in implementing.
On the very first day, it was a no-time-to-lose business, I had to meet Masa, one of the founders/VPs, at 0900am at the nearest train station, Osaki, one of the stations along the famous Yamanote Line. It was my first meeting with him face to face, since the entire hiring process was through Skype, Emails, and Line. He personally welcomed me and showed me to the office where I met all my future coworkers, got my desk and my laptop.
The usual tasks would include working on different projects, analyzing warehouse processes for a major automotive client, drawing processes on iGrafx, a BPMN and simulation software, using ol’good BPMN methods, and sharing with my colleagues to find solutions.
Few weeks, came the hot and humid July. I usually woke at 0730am, got ready, jumped in a ‘hell’ train (well some of you already know, this isn’t Japan if the trains ain’t crowded), and arrived at work 0945am there about. I pressed the door, and made sure everyone in the room heard my “Ohayoogozaimasu”! I found this ‘declaration’ of my arrival convenient, as it is not only a way to notify everyone that I’m here, but also a way to say “What’s up”.
The mornings passed by quickly, as there were not many hours before lunch, which was usually Bento or one of the numerous restaurants around (I remember one especially because of the Chahan aka chinese fried rice).
The afternoon however, was longer, allowing more time for group work. These group works were precious, especially for me, since my proficiency in Japanese was limited. I was then able to ask Jenell or Masa for explanations or some review of my work. It was critical for me to reach an almost perfect work since I was given actual responsibilities to deliver them to the client. This was also something I appreciated in ISOL because the work I was tasked with are about actual operations on clients’ sites and warehouses, which were very good materials for me to study.
All good things come to an end.
I left ISOL after 5 months when I had to return to Lyon to complete my Masters studies. It was hard for me to leave as my colleagues treated me with true sincerity and kindness. I was also very grateful as I find many things I learnt in ISOL applicable to my current job. ISOL taught me the mindset a consultant in Supply Chain industry should possess. I remember one day Masa telling me: “Alex, what do you mean by you couldn’t find a solution? So what’s next? Do we go to our client and say sorry we couldn’t do it? Impossible. Try harder, Alex. Change your way in approaching this problem. Again and again, regardless how long and how many times you take. You will find that solution one day.” This mentality has been with me ever since and will be with me in time to come.
Additionally, I learnt a lot about the Supply Chain advancements and technologies such as the application of Machine Learning being used in expediting warehouse processes. It was nice being with Japanese and Chinese coworkers as they gave me the exposure to learn about different methods of solving problems and challenged my assumptions. It was definitely an adventure and an amazing experience working with the motivated bunch!
This was Alex, now back in France, still working in Supply Chain, and hoping to be back in Japan some day!
Thanks for taking the time to read!