CrossTalk - ITO Corporation ITO Corporation plus image

CrossTalk gathered representatives from ITO Corporation for a discussion on international business and global opportunities. Representatives from ITO China, ITO Thailand faced off with their Japanese counterparts for a discussion.

Company Meeting - ITO Day

We are going through a period of great change!icon - ITO Plus Global Market

Joining forces across the sea to tackle the global market
ITO Corporation established a local subsidiary in Shanghai, China, in 2006. This was followed in 2014 by a local subsidiary in Bangkok, Thailand. As ITO Corporation tries to break into the international market, what are its strengths and needs? We asked the employees of the company's overseas locations. Fujiwara of the Head Office's Corporate Personnel Department sat down with Mr. Lee of ITO (Shanghai) Co.,Ltd's sales department, as well as with Mr. Phu, who works as a sales engineer at the Bangkok office of ITO (THAILAND) LTD.

Mr. Lee
Affiliation: ITO (Shanghai) Co.,Ltd
Job Title: Sales
Joined the company mid-career in 2013
Ms. Fujiwara
Affiliation: Head Office
Job Title: Corporate Personnel Department
Joined the company mid-career in 2014
Mr. Phu
Affiliation: ITO (Thailand) Ltd.
Job Title: Sales Engineer
Joined the company mid-career in 2014

New opportunities exist as ITO expands into overseas markets

Fujiwara: You both joined ITO Corporation in the middle of your careers. Could you begin by telling me more about why you decided to join ITO Corporation?

Lee: I always wanted to work in sales and I wanted to challenge myself at a new company. The deciding factor for me to join ITO Corporation was how friendly the people I met for my interview were, and the feeling that I really want to work together with these people.

Phu: Meeting Mr. Sakmoto of ITO Thailand was the most important factor for me. Because my previous job involved a lot of business travel, I was looking for work inside Thailand. When I was talking with Mr. Sakamoto, he was passionate about building a new company with new colleagues. Listening to him made me want to work to make ITO Thailand a success.

Fujiwara: That’s a beautiful story. ITO Thailand was established only very recently, so I imagine you are all very busy at the moment expanding the business.

Phu: Ms. Fujiwara, why did you move to your job at ITO Corporation?

Fujiwara: My previous company decided to relocate, and it made my commute very difficult. That’s when I made up my mind to find other work. I knew that ITO Corporation was trying hard to globalize and expand into overseas markets, and I thought that new challenges and opportunities might be waiting for me at this company. My main affiliation is with the Corporate Personnel Department, but I’m also working on a new overseas operations project that I proposed to the company myself, called the “Middle East Project.” It involves selling construction machinery made by Japanese companies to buyers in the Middle East. While I already have a lot of responsibilities within the Corporate Personnel Department, this new project has been a rewarding new challenge for me.

Mr. Lee - ITO Shanghai, China

Mr. Phu  - ITO Thailand

The network of overseas locations is a great weapon in the fight for the international market

Fujiwara: As overseas employees of ITO Corporation, what do you think are the company’s greatest strengths when it comes to global business?

Phu: The strength of all of its cross-border connections, perhaps? For example, I’ve relied on Mr. Lee for help with supply problems when there were products that I couldn’t obtain in Thailand. And Mr. Lee sometimes contacts us in Thailand when there’s something she cannot arrange in Shanghai. As for things like marketing research, the connections with the other companies in the group are at least as important as information gained from the internet. I think this network of overseas locations will be one of the greatest weapons for ITO Corporation in its fight for the international market.

Fujiwara: You’re working together across borders! I can tell that these overseas locations, including the ways they are developing their own ways to cooperate, will help ITO Corporation work with an even broader outlook into the world. If you want to leverage the knowledge and experiences you’ve accumulated and propose new projects to try, the company will support you. After all, the whole company is going through a period of great change.

Lee: The employees of ITO Corporation’s Japanese Head Office also have a very good understanding of the international market, and their outlook on the world is just as broad as that of overseas employees. The Japanese Head Office also has people like Ms. Fujiwara, who works in the Corporate Personnel Division while also being involved in business in the Middle East. The presence of these types of people will also be a big advantage for us as we try to advance our business overseas.

Fujiwara: All our individual employees have a global outlook, but that makes it even more crucial to communicate often and share information to make sure that everyone is aware of what ITO Corporation’s goals are and how the company wants to get there.

The network of overseas locations is a great weapon in the fight for the international market

Fujiwara: Are there aspects of ITO Corporation that you particularly like, or aspects that you’d like to improve in the future?

Phu: I think it’s great that ITO Corporation makes it possible to try many different new things quickly. When you propose something in a big company, it takes forever before you can see your idea realized. But at ITO Thailand, we can move forward as soon as we get an okay from Mr. Sakamoto. Also, the employees at ITO Thailand are not divided into departments yet and no one is in charge of a single type of work; instead, you might have to do anything from sales work to accounting or the transport of goods, and the entire team works together to get everything done. You can participate in all kinds of work outside of your usual responsibilities, so that makes for many good opportunities.

Fujiwara: You can say the same about the Head Office, really. Instead of staying inside the confines of your own department, you can broaden your horizons by getting involved in all kinds of work. It’s important to seize opportunities as they appear and not just wait around for work to come to you. It’s because we’re not a big company that we can respond flexibly to changes and immediately take action on ideas from employees, such as what happened with the Middle East Project.

Lee: Everyone at the Shanghai office trusts each other and supports their colleagues in their work as well. It makes such a huge difference to be able to work in a pleasant atmosphere while surrounded by good people. I do think that it would help a lot if we had more professionals with a deep knowledge of our products. I study as much as I can, but…

Fujiwara: The Japanese Head Office recently established the SPD (Solutions Promotion Division), which provides technical support to the sales division. The SPD is made up of experienced employees who have a deep understanding of our mechanical products. This new division is also working together with ITO Corporation’s overseas location to support their business activities. This may be one of the most important new challenges for ITO Corporation. I would like to see us all learn as much as we can from these knowledgeable professionals, so we can increase our understanding of the products. Doing this will empower everyone in the group to develop better proposals.

Phu: Having the support of the SPD is crucial in order to increase the value of our products. We’re working hard to expand our business in Thailand, but competition is strong. Merely selling products is not enough. The most important thing is to provide added value to customers, in the form of knowledge about the products and how they can be used, after-sales service, and the like. Through trial and error, the SPD and ITO Thailand are figuring out how to give our products that little bit extra to make them truly special.

MsFujiwara - ITO Japan
ITO Japan, Thailand, China Meeting

You need a broad outlook to tackle new challenges

Fujiwara: I have one more question. What kind of people do you want to work with in the future?

Lee: People who take responsibility for their own work, and who think on a global scale. I also like it when my colleagues have goals in mind and work hard to reach them.

Phu: I want to work with people who have a broad outlook. I suppose that means people who can grow by listening closely to others’ opinions and solving problems together.

Fujiwara: If you want to tackle new things, it’s important to have a broad outlook. I want to work with people who are always thinking about how they can bring more fun into the workplace. I’m happy when I can work together with people who enjoy themselves while working, just like I do.

Company meetings of ITO Japan, ITO Thailand and ITO China