Click here for "【Part 1】 15 Years of Hitachi’s Internal Employee Network"
Click here for "【Part 2】 The Logic of Transforming an Organization"
Click here for "【Part 3】 Making a Fresh Start from Stagnation"
Click here for "【Part 4】 Challenging the Pandemic by DX of Innovation"
Click here for "【Part 5】 Secret behind the Longevity of Team Sunrise"
Click here for "【Part 6】 Drivers of Innovation"
Click here for "【Part 7】 The Man Who Brought the US Bestseller “The Human Element” to Japan"
Click here for "【Part 8】 Global Mindset and English"
Click here for "【Part 9】 Organization Where Innovation Occurs from the Bottom Up"
Variety of English Seminars Focused on “Speaking”
The event featuring Prof. David Schonthal took place on June 23, 2023, at Shibuya QWS. During the event, Tatsuya Goke sat alongside Prof. Schonthal, who was visiting from the United States. He skillfully translated questions and comments from Japanese participants into English and conveyed Mr. Schonthal's responses into Japanese. At Hitachi Management Partner Corp., which provides shared services for the Hitachi group in finance & accounting, as well as human resources & payroll, he specializes in translating the graphic user interfaces of HR/Payroll systems into English.
Tatsuya Goke shared his background, saying, “I lived and worked in North America for quite a while until I joined this company in 2012. In Canada, I worked as a translator/interpreter at a manufacturing plant for a Japanese automaker. In the US, I served as the R&D manager for the Asia-Pacific Division at a US certification body of international standards.”
During his tenure at Hitachi Management Partner Corp., he also assumed the responsibility of in-house English training for employees, leveraging his experiences in English-speaking countries. In Team Sunrise, he actively contributes to improving the English proficiency of Hitachi group employees by organizing English seminars himself. Currently, there are approximately five English seminars and training groups associated with Team Sunrise, with Goke playing a role in all of them. Some of these seminars have gained substantial attention, with over 300 participants in each session. Since the onset of the pandemic, Team Sunrise has become the hub for English-learning circles within Hitachi, all centered around Tatsuya Goke.
He emphasized, ”All the English seminars and groups I organize focus on 'speaking.' Mastering English doesn't come solely from reading and contemplation. It requires consistent practice and ongoing speaking training. Otherwise, one can never truly master the language.”
In one seminar, for instance, he collaborated with an English conversation school to offer a series of interactive online sessions for free. Native instructors engaged participants in conversations and prompted them to respond to questions. Topics included 'Situations in Online Meetings' and 'Business Small Talk,' which are highly valuable in a business context. In another series, he invited a well-known author and CEO of an English coaching school to deliver lectures on maintaining motivation for English practice. He also partnered with an English training software provider to provide a three-month free trial of 'pattern practice' lessons and spearheaded a three-month English pattern practice marathon. Additionally, Tatsuya serves as one of the administrators of an online community where non-Japanese employees learning Japanese and Japanese employees learning English and other languages come together to practice.
Making It Easier for Non-Japanese Employees to Participate
In April 2023, Masahiko Sato, Head of Team Sunrise, approached Goke with the idea of serving as an interpreter for Prof. David Schonthal's talk event. At the time, Goke had growing concerns about Team Sunrise's direction. He explained:
“Team Sunrise changed its name from ‘Global Wakate-Kai’ (Association of Global Junior Employees) to its current name in 2016. Since then, the group's primary focus shifted to 'Creation of Innovation,' and related activities and events became more prominent. Unfortunately, the global perspective seemed to take a back seat in our activities. That really bothered me. Some non-Japanese members even expressed disappointment, saying, 'We wanted to participate in Team Sunrise events, but they are all in Japanese, for the Japanese.' I had been contemplating volunteering as an interpreter for future Team Sunrise events. When Sato-san presented the opportunity for me to interpret for Prof. Schonthal's talk event, I saw it as the perfect chance to fulfill that aspiration.”
Coincidentally, another event was announced on the Team Sunrise online message board—a book club meeting featuring 'The Human Element,' authored by none other than Prof. Schonthal himself. This meeting was organized and facilitated by Takato Kusama, a member of Hitachi's Social System Division, who later gave a presentation on his application of Prof. Schonthal's 'Friction Theory' during the June talk event. Goke recalls, “By participating in this book club meeting, I realized how I was always concerned about ‘persuading’ stakeholders to move or change things in an organization, as opposed to removing frictions.”
Urgent Task of Globalizing Japanese Employees
Behind Goke's tireless efforts in organizing English learning events for Hitachi group employees through Team Sunrise lies a motivation rooted in his challenging experiences working overseas with Japanese colleagues.
“'More than half of Hitachi's global workforce is now non-Japanese. While Hitachi may have globalized in that regard, its employees in Japan still seem far from being globalized. I've observed that our inward-looking mindset is the primary barrier. This may be a common challenge in many Japanese companies. For instance, I've noticed that most Japanese expats assigned overseas tend to stick with their fellow nationals, refusing to get out of their comfort zone. They often miss valuable opportunities to immerse themselves in the local culture and get to know employees from the assigned country.”
“Improving English proficiency can significantly impact attitudes. As employees gain confidence in their English-speaking abilities through practice, they become more willing to step out of their comfort zones. We can achieve this by involving more Japanese employees in our English seminars and groups and encouraging more non-Japanese employees to engage in Team Sunrise activities. Hopefully, globalizing Team Sunrise will pave the way for the globalization of Hitachi's Japanese employees in the future.”
Takato Kusama, who also exhibited his supporter-ship and gave a presentation during the talk event with Prof. Schonthal, will appear in the next and final installment of this interview series.
Manager, Business Planning Division at Hitachi Management Partner Corp.
Before joining Hitachi Management Partner Corp. in 2012, he worked at Canadian manufacturing plant of a Japanese automaker as translator/interpreter and American certification body of international standards as R&D manager of Asia-Pacific Division, taking advantage of his command of English. Currently, he engages in localization/globalization of HR/Payroll systems and in-house English training of employees. He holds 1st grade in STEP English Proficiency Test (Eiken) and scored 990 in TOEIC four times (out of 7 occasions).