Pick Up

Greatly diminished the employees' apprehensions regarding foreign countries and English!
Leads to making managerial changes at the company

Hagihara Farm Production Institute Co., Ltd.GOSHU YAKUHIN CO., Ltd.


Toyama/Planning, Development, Manufacturing and Sales of Quasi-drugs and Cosmetics

インターンインターンLe Nguyen Khanh Hoa

Vietnam/University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh city/ Pharmacy


Aiming to gather local information for overseas business expansion and overcome the "allergy" to foreign counries

Q.Why did your company decide to take on interns? What did you aim to achieve?
Our company manufactures and sells products such as bath salts, cosmetics, and functional foods, and this year marks its 70th anniversary. Our business initially focused primarily on the Japanese market. However, due in part to a declining birthrate, that market has begun to shrink. Because of this, a few years ago we began looking at overseas markets, and came to focus on Vietnam. However, that would become our first real expansion into a foreign country, and we knew nothing about Vietnam — what products Vietnamese people wanted, how they thought, what the legal environment was, and so on. Furthermore, many of our employees felt a discomfort in dealing with English and foreign countries, and were visibly perplexed when it came to handling calls that came in from overseas. It was then that we learned about the program and applied. We wanted to get live information on Vietnam from an intern, and for our Japanese staff to overcome differences of culture and language and engender international sensibilities.



Candid suggestions and proposals from our intern accelerated the development of new products for Vietnam

Q.What kind of internship did you run? What difficulties did you face and how did you resolve them?
Goshu Yakuhin develops products using natural spring water from the Northern Alps, a premium natural resource, as well as deep-sea water from the Toyama region. First, to familiarize the intern with the strengths of our products, we provided them with product information and taught them about Toyama's environment and culture.
The intern had majored in pharmacy, and we had him do experiments, analyses, and other basic research tasks at our laboratory. Later, he gave us numerous opinions on new products we had in development for the Vietnamese market. We had him join product development meetings local partners as well as internal meetings, and asked him for advice about topics ranging from product selection to design to price setting. We also had him research Vietnamese laws and the products our competitors were then selling in the country, and he was forthcoming with his views on our products. He enabled us to take the most efficient path to product creation and dramatically reduce development time. Consequently, the decision has been made to put a new product of ours on store shelves in Vietnam next spring. This was our first real step in doing business overseas, and was a great accomplishment.



Views expressed by an intern leads to making managerial changes at the company

Q.Comparing before and after the internship, what effects did it have on you, your employees, or your organization?
Taking on the intern greatly diminished the employees' discomfort in dealing with foreign countries, which was the original goal. The intern could not speak Japanese, and almost every employee in our company believed that "foreign nationals = English = discomfort." This made them apprehensive to communicate at first. But creating opportunities for the employees to interact with the intern led to more and more employees trying to communicate, even if they could only speak broken English. They learned that they could become friends with people even if language was a barrier, and lost their fear of English and the broader world. Fostering a mindset among employees that would be important for bringing the company's business overseas was a major accomplishment.
Furthermore, the intern candidly and unreservedly expressed his views on problems concerning our management. From the perspective of a foreign national, he pointed out not only issues we had previously known about but also issues that had yet to be identified. His insights illuminated problems concerning our management and gave us a chance to address them in the future.



Reaffirming my own shortcomings and achieving personal, as well as professional, growth

Q.What did you get out of the internship?
College gave me a basic grounding in pharmacy, but this internship gave me a deeper knowledge and skillset. Vietnamese regulations concerning functional foods are complex, and one thing I learned is the importance of accurately and logically conveying key points and points of caution in order to make reports that are easy to follow. I also learned that the things I had heard about Japan before coming were different from what I learned after coming. Japanese companies were even more willing to listen to my opinions than I had thought they would be, and I was always treated with kindness even when I was really holding forth. I was unable to collect myself and calmly tell people about good ideas when I had them. However, in reaffirming shortcomings in myself regarding things like how I talked with others and how I expressed my views, I achieved a measure of personal growth. This internship taught me many things, including how businesses are run and how people work in Japan, as well as Japanese culture. Comparing Japan to Vietnam made me recognize the good things about each, and I also greatly expanded my perspective on what I could achieve in my career. I know I will be able to make use of this experience if I ever get the opportunity to work at a Japanese company.



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