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Testimonials

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Ginza, Tokyo

Photo by courtesy of JNTO

Quotes from Scholarship Recipients and their Employers:

Scholarship Recipients

“An experience, helpful in my future business life”

Simon Hilber (2012)

I stayed in Japan from the 21 June 2011 to the 8 July 2012. The Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC) played a central role in the year I was able to spend in Japan. If it was not for the scholarship, I would not have been able to spend this year abroad. The influence of the chamber, however, goes beyond the financial aspects. Thanks to the expertise of Mr. Paul Dudler as the chairman of the SJCC scholarship fund, this year went by much more smoothly than it would have under other circumstances. Several guides on how to get started in Japan handed out by Mr. Dudler, as well as his availability in cases of questions regarding many situations which may occur during such a year, were a tremendous help during my stay. Furthermore, the influence of the SJCC goes beyond that. Thanks to detailed reports of previous scholarship recipients almost every question which may arise during the preparations or the stay itself, can be answered. Also, thanks to the SJCC and the Alumni Organization, there is an extensive network in Japan as well as in Switzerland, which can be referred to if necessary.

Regarding my stay in a Japanese language school, there is not that much to say. I visited KAI Japanese language school in Tokyo for approximately six months. However, the experiences gathered there can be applied to other language schools as well, as far as I heard from other scholarship recipients. One feature, which I really appreciated, was the fact that the school was willing to help its students far beyond school related topics. Whenever questions regarding everyday life or bureaucratic procedures arose, the school had a helping hand and could assist its students in many different ways. Another insight I gained was regarding the class schedules. I chose, and would also suggest to others, to take morning classes if possible. Having to wake up early in the morning and being able to stay at school in the afternoon to study does not only help in having an organized daily schedule, but it also helps to increase the language skills faster.

Finally, regarding the experiences made during my internship: In my opinion those are the most valuable experiences made during this year, since I did not only gain insights in the functioning of a multinational enterprise. Much more important, however, I learned to work in an environment with people from cultural backgrounds which differ significantly from the one in Europe. Experiencing the work ethic in Japan, which in my opinion consists of mutual respect and a strong importance of hierarchy, will not only be helpful in future collaboration with Japanese people but also in my future business life as a whole. In particular I would like to emphasize the convention which is predominant in Japan, which states that when taking an action one should always consider how other parties could interpret it or might be affected by it, in order not to put them in an uncomfortable situation. In my opinion this sort of considerate behavior is not only the key to successful relations with Japanese people, but with people as a whole.

In der Welt der japanischen Politik

Ralph Andreas Stamm im japanischen Repräsentatenhaus (2007)

"Das SJCC Stipendium öffnete mir eine Welt, zu der nur wenige Zugang haben", sagt Ralph A. Stamm, der 2007 als Praktikant hinter die Türen des japanischen Parlaments schauen durfte. Als Assistent eines Abgeordneten konnte er dabei ins Zentrum der politischen Macht in Tokio vordringen. "Die parlamentarische Demokratie 1:1 zu erleben war sehr lehrreich. Ich musste viele meiner Ideen überdenken und bin mehr Realist geworden." Die Arbeit in diesem rauen Umfeld habe ihn persönlich weitergebracht und für seine berufliche Zukunft vorbereitet, so Stamm, "weil es nicht nur eigentümlich japanisch, sondern auch beispielhaft ist für die Politik an anderen Orten der Welt". Für Stamm hat sich der Einsatz im fernen Tokio gelohnt: Im Frühjahr 2013 wurde er in den schweizerischen diplomatischen Dienst aufgenommen.

A rich personal experience

Guillermo Fernandez Castellanos at Toshiba

“... My stay in Japan is proving to be an exceptional and rich personal experience. A significant number of views I had about Japan before coming have certainly changed, which I see as a result of a better understanding of Japanese people and their culture. I also developed technical competence and could gain insight into Japanese standards and procedures ...”

Intra- and interpersonal skills, key factors in Japan

Vincent Sennhauser at Hilti Japan (2004)

“... In summary, in Japan, probably more than in any other foreign country, you have to pay special attention to your interpersonal skills. Some people speak about EQ, our emotional quotient or how we manage our emotions and the way we relate to others. Our EQ is the ability to establish and deepen connections at three levels: with ourselves, with another person (one-to-one), and within groups/teams. The Japanese experience is a question of whether you can endure frustration or not. The language is so difficult to learn and to use (leading to misunderstandings), and the culture and way of life is so different from ours that you will inevitably be confronted with conflicts and frustration. At this point your intra- and inter- personal skills come into play. They must be developed well enough in order to manage the huge emotional flow you will be confronted with. ...”

On cultural differences

Blaise Fracheboud at Koyo Seiko

“... Remain yourself and think objectively. Japanese will accept culture differences without any problem as long as you respect them! ...”

Companies

On performance appraisal

Noboru M., Mitsubishi Motors

“... Filip Krnja was the first trainee ever at Mitsubishi Motors design studios and I hold him in highest esteem both personally and professionally. He adapted quickly to the Japanese environment. Despite the immense challenges of joining a uniformly Japanese team, Filip integrated him- self extraordinarily well. During his time at Mitsubishi, Filip was involved in the design of currently developed series cars as well as in deriving new concepts for future series- and show cars. He was perfectly able to communicate his en- visioned concept ...”

Noboru M. was the direct supervisor of scholarship recipient Filip Krnja, whose model car has won the international competition of Mitsubishi’s design studios and has been put on the market in 2007! Filip has meanwhile joined Daimler-Chrysler Design Studios in Yokohama and is currently on a sabbatical leave studying at the Royal College of Art in London.