“Excuse me for leaving before you” – A Tokyo Experience

Jaime Pulido in Tokyo
Jamie Pulido Tokyo The streets are incredibly clean, the train is always on time and people apologize when they leave the office – welcome to Tokyo, the city that never sleeps.

Could you imagine working and living in a completely different country? Jaime Pulido has dared to take this step: since September 2022 he works as Digital Transformation (DX) IT Strategy Manager at Hitachi headquarters.

Initially, he was employed by ABB in Switzerland. When ABB formed a joint venture with the Hitachi, he was one of the first to join. A while after the creation of the venture, the need arose to have someone from Switzerland at the headquarters in Tokyo. Jaime Pulido jumped at the chance and took on the adventure.

The fact that he successfully completed the Rochester-Bern Executive MBA helped him gather the necessary confidence to take this major decision. “The EMBA introduced me to the overall strategy discipline and has given me, frameworks, methods and tools, which I use a lot here to resolve strategic issues and develop strategic plans. I often go through my notes and look at frameworks or tools taught in class. They provide me with ideas on how to approach a task”, says Pulido.

And the tasks Pulido has to master are certainly not at all easy. Hitachi is a company with more than 350 000 employees active in 90 countries with a diverse portfolio in the fields of digital systems & services, green energy & mobility, connective industries, Automotive systems and home appliances. “There is no room for micromanagement here. Rather, I must work thinking about the whole Hitachi group, providing broad guidelines to achieve synergies, and planning considering our future as a whole company, which is a new but great experience for me”, says Pulido.

Additionally, his challenge is of course to find his way in an entirely new country. He shares with us some of his first experiences:

A lesson in sustainability

When it comes to sustainability, there are some aspects we can learn from Japan. One of Pulido’s observations is, that in Japan people have much longer-term visions than in Switzerland. They plan very far ahead. Accordingly, they also think bigger and therefore more positive influence can be exerted on social issues such as sustainability.

The people of Tokyo also display incredible discipline. “Even if there are no public trash cans, there is no waste lying around anywhere. People keep the waste with them and dispose of it at home or in the office”, says Pulido. On top of that, they are also very diligent when it comes to recycling: Even the smallest plastic parts are PET and recyclable.

Furthermore, sustainability is also a big issue at the Hitachi group: The company aims to be carbon-neutral in its offices and factories by 2030. The IT departments – where Pulido works – intends to meet this goal even ahead of schedule and to be carbon-neutral by 2027.

The beauty of order and procedures

Order and rules can be considered as boring and dull, but they also have their advantages. “Because everyone follows the rules and procedures, workflows in Japan are fast and run like clockwork”, states Pulido. This is evident, for example, in public transport. The means of transport are extremely punctual and there is no crowding when getting on and off.

This ability to plan makes life in Tokyo extremely fast and dynamic. “The shops are open 24/7. You can order any kind of food at any time”, says Pulido. The long term-orientation certainly helps here as well. “It’s like they are all in the same channel, they know how the city works and where it wants to go. Therefore, things are really fast-paced here”, he adds.

Politeness as a supreme value

In Japan it is considered highly important not to lose face. Accordingly, the people are extremely friendly and respectful. “Even if someone is angry or stressed out, this person will remain very polite and calm”, says Pulido.

This friendliness and respect for others is also reflected in the language: When someone leaves the office in Tokyo, the person says “Osaki ni Shitsureishimasu”, which can be translated as “excuse me for leaving before you”. From the Japanese culture’s perspective, it shows your care and recognition for others’ work.

The power of listening and appreciating

Pulido gives the following advice to people who need to navigate Japanese culture: “Give them time to speak”. Many people have the tendency to say anything just to fill an awkward silence, but this does not work in Tokyo. “Most people need a safe environment to express their position” he adds.

If you want to discover a new place, it also helps to talk to locals or people who know well the region. For example, Pulido contacted a former classmate from his Rochester-Bern EMBA studies before his journey to Tokyo. She was already working in a Japanese company and was able to give him good advice and tips.

Pulido concludes with the words: “In the end, you should always appreciate the advantages of the place you are now. On every spot of this earth, there are things to discover and beautiful corners to explore.”