3 months after coming back from Japan for my In-Country Study experience, I was very fortunate to be elected as one of 6 student ambassadors from UTS for the New Columbo Plan initiative that paired with one of Japan’s largest multinational general trading company – Mitsui & Co. The program ran for a period of two weeks in Japan’s hot and humid summer, and despite swearing to not revisit in said season, it was one of the greatest experiences I ever had.
Honestly, the single-page program flyer did not at all prepare me for what I was getting into.
With also 8 other students from across Australia, from University of Western Australia (7) and University of Newcastle (1), I participated across a variety of seminars, business projects and cultural experiences at Mitsui’s headquarters in Tokyo. It was such a great, enriching experience as I was completely immersed in their business culture – challenged by following the standards and etiquette of Japanese business workers and it constantly amazed me. I was also given the opportunity to be exposed to the variety of specialties that Mitsui & Co. dealt with, especially ones they are operating in Australia and how such a large business company was able to manage and make decisions to last over centuries while still abiding by and keeping their values close.
Not only was I able to learn about Mitsui, but also of the significance of Japan’s relationships with Australia that bring prosperity to both nations and how imperative it is to maintain it, especially from a dual-cultural perspective. The program also lead us on site visits that exhibit such processes which included: Kimitsu Steel Works, Shark Bay Salt processing plant, Toyota manufacturing facility, Toyota Museum and the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.
Another site visit included the Moon Creative Lab in Harajuku, Tokyo – a branch office of Moon based in Palo Alto, California, and was one of the most memorable visits (a consensus among my fellow peers). The creative lab is a direct affiliate with Mitsui & Co, committed to incubation and development of new business innovations. It showed that a large company was capable of continuing to support the new, ever-evolving age but, it was not only this fact that amazed me. We were introduced Anna Hiraoka – an entrepreneur at the lab, where we were able to interact with her and her project’s progress. Being able to formally meet and greet employees and seeing progress and influence was the point where I realised how rare these opportunity were (and how there was no indication of this anywhere, but I think it was the best part – the surprise of it all).
This program was very eye-opening into some of complexities of the world which I usually would not have delved in, even if it only covered a small part of it. So I am very grateful for the rare opportunity by providing me with significant insight into the corporate world, intricacies of international relations and furthering my own personal and professional skills that have improved since day one of the program.
And I am not going to lie, it was the most content-heavy and tiring two weeks I experienced, with challenges that constantly greeted me at every corner. But, it was thanks to Mitsui & Co. and UTS BUILD that I was able to network and engaging with a range of professionals, diplomats, alumni and students from both Japan and Australia, forming ever-lasting relationships, friendships and memories that made it an experience I will never forget.
Bachelor of Property Economics, Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (Japan)
Global Short Programs Student