April 26, 2013,13:00 +0900(JST) Certifying Mastery of Manufacturing Skills

Sumitomo Electric awards employees the titles of “Meister” and “Expert” in recognition of their high levels of manufacturing skills. The Meister title is bestowed on outstanding Experts. Thirty-nine employees were certified as Experts, and two as Meisters this fiscal year. Nine of the new Experts and Meisters attended a certification ceremony held on April 9 at the Osaka Head Office.

Awarding ceremony

An important aim of this certification program is to encourage Meister and Expert employees to generously share their hard-earned expertise with younger fellow workers. However, advanced levels of manufacturing skills often don’t render themselves to verbal explanations; overcoming this dilemma to successfully communicate professional secrets is the challenge we face.

The award ceremony was followed by a luncheon, during which more than one title recipient remarked that persistence is essential for achieving mastery. I felt that this strikes a chord with the notion of adhering conscientiously to the basics that I mention on every occasion. Perhaps somewhere here lies the key to solving the aforementioned challenge.

“I want to communicate not only skills but the spirit and attitude of manufacturing”

* This is the summary of the Japanese blog entry on April 16, 2013.

April 26, 2013,10:30 +0900(JST) Inari Festival on a Crisp Spring Day

Every year on the first Sunday in April, we celebrate Inari Festival at our three Works—Osaka, Itami, and Yokohama. Participants assemble around a shrine erected on the premises of the Works, and offer prayers for employee health and safety as well as business prosperity. Safety is, of course, pursued day in and day out by all employees, but occasions such as the Inari Festival, when we humbly offer our prayers at the start of the fresh fiscal year, help us renew our resolve to carry out our tasks conscientiously.

Offering tamagushi

This year I attended the Inari Festival at the Itami Works. The ceremony began with a solemn performance of gagaku music and was followed by an offering of prayers by a Shinto priest. Tamagushi leaves were then offered by myself, the general manager of the Itami Works, and the heads of various departments to conclude the ritual.

After the Shinto ceremony, participants enjoyed until well into the afternoon the food stalls and charity bazaar set up within the grounds, as well as a softball match and a mini concert performed by the local junior high school brass band. Although it took place under a chilly, heavily overcast sky, visitors from the plant’s neighboring communities also seemed to enjoy the event and the still-intact cherry blossoms. I bought some flowers as a souvenir to take home.

April 23, 2013,13:30 +0900(JST) Starting the New Fiscal Year

Sumitomo Electric welcomed more than 200 young staff members at the start of the new fiscal year. Their serious faces at the initiation ceremony for new employees had a bracing effect on us as well.
(Here is the summary of President’s Welcome Message to New Recruits.)

New employees receiving their appointment letters

Firstly, I requested new employees to “master the basics of your work, and follow them conscientiously.” I make this request to new employees every year, and I am sure that similar remarks have been made consistently by my predecessors as well. And the message is not just for new staff. At Sumitomo Electric, it is customary for the president to send out a New Year message intended for employees at the beginning of each year. I have made sure every year that my New Year message to employees includes a request to “reinforce SEQCDD (Safety, Environment, Quality, Cost, Delivery, and Research & Development) activities, which constitutes the foundation of manufacturing.” Indeed, practicing the basics in a straightforward approach is a message I have repeated to employees on every occasion.

In other words, adhering to the basics conscientiously is very difficult. The moment we think, “This is so easy,” or “I’m sick of hearing the same thing over and over again,” complacency will most certainly creep in. The more experienced we become, the more strongly we have to remind ourselves of the need to adhere to the basics conscientiously.

The second request I made to new employees was to “put your heart into it.” To keep practicing the basics conscientiously, we need to be highly motivated. This again applies not just to new employees but to all of us.

April 23, 2013,13:00 +0900(JST) Season for Making a Fresh Start

The sakura zensen, or cherry-blossom front, is now heading north quickly. I am sure that some of my blog readers will reach or have reached major milestones in their lives this season, such as graduation, enrollment, employment and relocation. Apart from the discussion on whether or not to introduce fall enrollment, personally, it’s not bad at all that we say goodbye to familiar surroundings, make a new start and meet new people during the season of cherry blossoms.

Recently, I was invited to attend graduation ceremonies at Hitotsubashi University, from which I graduated, and Kansai University of Nursing and Health Sciences on Awaji Island, my home town. Seeing the faces of graduating students reminded me of the mixed feelings that I had when I graduated — the joy of finally being able to start working and the anxiety about whether I would be ready enough to work. At the graduation ceremony at Kansai University of Nursing and Health Sciences, I made the following speech as the head of the supporting organization:

During my long career, I accomplished a variety of assignments, but whenever I started a new assignment, I would always be full of anxiety. Then I would set goals for three days, three weeks, three months and three years, and strive to accomplish them by any means. By maintaining this attitude, I was able to involve other people, which often led to good results. Efforts don’t always reap success, but I’m sure that it’s important for you to work with sincerity, dedication and fairness, in order to gain trust and confidence from other people, which is a key to success in your career and other aspects of your life.

Life is full of unexpected events, but whatever happens, I hope we all will be able to stick to our guns and cope with any problems, keeping a calm, imperturbable attitude. I myself still have a long way to go before I reach that stage. There is no royal road leading us directly there. I believe that if we continue to cope with day-to-day challenges, small or large, without avoiding them, we will be able to gradually train ourselves and reach the desired stage.

Finally, I wish for your good health and hope that you will live your life with confidence and courage.

April 23, 2013,12:00 +0900(JST) WBC

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) was held for the first time in four years. After I got home, I enjoyed watching heated battles on TV news. It is a pity that Japan, which aimed for its third consecutive championship victory, lost its semifinal game. But this year’s WBC was exciting because of heated games played by Latin American countries, including Dominican Republic, which claimed their first WBC title, and emerging baseball countries, such as the Netherlands.

The Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan already have great players from different countries. Through the WBC games, I rediscovered the ongoing globalization in the world of baseball. Japan won the WBC championships for the past two events due to its excellent technical skills and teamwork. But other countries are also reaching a high technical level now, and baseball has entered into an era of rival warlords.

I am wondering how the U.S., home to baseball, will fight back at the next WBC, how Japan will be able to make it to the final despite the presence of its closest rivals such as South Korea and Taiwan, which countries will make their first appearance at the next WBC......Oh, WBC is beginning to seem to stand for “World Business Competition.”

SUMITOMO ELECTRIC President CEO Masayoshi Matsumoto

Born in 1944 in Hyogo Prefecture, Masayoshi Matsumoto joined Sumitomo Electric in 1967. After serving as General Manager of Chubu District Office, Managing Director and Senior Managing Director, he assumed office of President and CEO in June 2004.

His leisure activities include jogging, reading and art appreciation. Also a seasoned athlete, he played baseball in junior high school and practiced judo in senior high school. In university, he threw the javelin competitively and participated in all-Japan inter-university competitions.

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