This time, we speak to Akiho Kondo, who joined the #AnyMindFamily as an intern in Taiwan.
She is now a full-time employee in the Advertiser Engagement department.
She shares with us more about her background growing up, her experience in AnyMind Group, how it’s like working in Taiwan, and her aspirations for the year ahead.
Summarized background: Akiho Kondo (Advertiser Engagement Executive)
Akiho graduated from the National University of Taiwan, Born in Kasugai City, Aichi Prefecture.
Spent eight years abroad, in elementary and junior high school (four years in the United States, four years in Belgium). After that, she spent another four years in Taiwan for her university education.
Having started her career as an intern in March 2019 in AnyMind Group’s Taiwan office, she joined the company full-time in August 2019 and is working from our brand new office in Taipei.
Hi, this is Akiho from AnyMind Group’s Taiwan team. I hope you read this piece to the end, and a big thank you!
A life lived abroad
No matter where you are in the world, something is different and new
Even till now, my dad’s job involves some relocating on a global scale, and not just in Japan.
I spent more time abroad compared to other Japanese people in my age group. You might think that it’s pretty cool, but it was never a fun experience.
Actually, I’ve moved countries almost every four years, and when you are completely used to relocating and living in a new country, you can in a way, start a new life in a new country each time. This has been a continuous cycle in my life so far.
In every country, I had to learn and adapt to a new environment.
In the United States, (I moved there when I was 10), I could only recite the first three letters of the alphabet. When I was in elementary school, I spent many hours improving my English and doing homework (even until midnight!).
At first, it was difficult to make friends, because I couldn’t even speak a word of English, and I had lunch alone every day.
When I moved to junior high school in Aichi prefecture, my hometown in Japan, I didn’t know how to interact with my Japanese peers. I sometimes get teased that “something about you is different from the rest of us”.
When I moved to Taiwan, also known as a market that loves Japanese culture, I felt welcomed as a Japanese.” However, it is still difficult to enter Taiwanese social circles, and honestly, I felt lonely and frustrated sometimes, that I could not become a closer friend to some of my Taiwanese acquaintances.
In each country, the beginning meant adjustments and learning in terms of language and lifestyle, so it was not easy at all. Above everything else, I felt that a lack of human relationships was the most impactful to me.
Each time, there were unique barriers and worries, but in the end, I ultimately felt each time that “I am glad to come to this country.”
Two things I learned growing up abroad
Thanks to such a valuable experience living, studying and working abroad, I was able to pick up two important facets (apart from the language aspect of course).
Because of my experiences in Europe, the United States, Taiwan and Japan, I’ve had a lifetime of training on adapting to foreign environments.
I always “localize” myself to the country!
Thanks to that, whenever I enter a new environment or even meet people from a different country, I am able to adapt and get along relatively quickly.
I’m able to grasp the thoughts, behaviors, and culture of the locals, and I feel that I can adapt and embrace local norms faster than most people.
②Concept of “the world”
To me, overseas is just a word - I’m a global citizen. Even though Japan is my home country, to me, it feels like it’s “overseas.”
This idea is often quite vague in Japan. What I really want to say is that the world is not just divided into Japan and “other countries.” Each country in the world has its own nuances.
With that in mind, I don’t have barriers in moving abroad (to me, it’s just a matter of moving from country to country). I feel that I’ve expanded my view and options by living in so many countries in my lifetime.
In my third year of college, I thought (rather vaguely) to myself “I want to join a company where I can utilize my strengths, and pursue my passions.”
I happened to chance upon a Facebook post about AnyMind Group by one of my seniors
One day, I was pondering my career options and I came across a Facebook post from a high school senior, whom I still respect a lot.
The senior is two years older than me, but despite such a small age gap, the post showed her various achievements and experiences in her company.
I had a strong sense of respect for her when I was in high school, but when I saw how she grew and achieved success after entering this company, I thought to myself “Oh, this is exactly where I want to be.”
That was my first encounter with AnyMind Group.
It went really quickly from there. I contacted my senior by Facebook messenger, sent over my resume, connected with HR, and the whole process went really fast.
There are a number of reasons for the final decision in joining AnyMind Group, but the initial spark of interest was triggered by a single Facebook post by my senior. What a nice start!
The path to becoming a global working professional in the future
I came across AnyMind Group because of my high school senior. However, there were two main reasons why I joined the company.
①A truly global company
With AnyMind Group having so many offices across Asia, I have so many options and opportunities. Even in my current role, the environments and ways of doing business are different between Japan, Greater China and Southeast Asia. In fact, each market or even city in the region has its own minute nuances.
Currently, AnyMind Group is in 11 markets, and there are so many role opportunities. Joining as an intern, I had an amazing opportunity to choose what I wanted to do in the future and also plan that path against my aspirations.
②Environment and culture
Somehow I was sure that there is definitely a reason why my seniors are working at AnyMind Group with such commitment, but I didn’t know why exactly. I started to read some of the #AnyMindFamily articles on the company’s blog, and it gave me insight into how life would be like at AnyMind Group. From reading those blog articles and experiencing it for myself, It’s apparent that the company gives opportunities regardless of age, but rather based on merit.
In fact, my senior (who is still quite young) is already a manager. If we look at some of the country managers, they are still comparatively young as well but are doing an amazing job running their countries.
It’s amazing that we’re in the same age bracket!
Introspectively, I didn’t join with much experience, but I wanted to obtain a lot of experience from a young age and grow as fast as possible, and I couldn’t wait to join the company.
I feel that people have their own strengths and values, and I think it’s better to choose one that suits each style from all the companies out there.
In my case, there was no guarantee that I would live in Japan or build a career in Japan, that’s why I wanted to quickly gain skills and ample experience so that I can work in any country.
That’s why I decided to join AnyMind Group. Some of the questions I asked myself were “how much can I learn from this company”, and “how can the company help me grow.”
From internship to full-time employment. A fulfilling work life.
I joined AnyMind Group as an intern in March 2019, and became a full-time employee in August.
In my current position, I need to manage my tasks and time between client meetings, proposals, and multi-tasking everything else in-between including cold-calling clients, and there is also a numerical target on top of all this. It’s definitely not a mentally or physically easy job.
However, this experience would definitely be useful in my life across any situation. For example, the ability to communicate with completely different types of people, and find the best solutions for those who have differing opinions, and convincing them of it. There are definitely a lot of things that I can learn from.
A great manager that I’m indebted to
My line manager, who I’ve been reporting to since I was an intern, transferred back to our office in Japan last October.
When I heard of the internal transfer a few months earlier, I asked myself “with my inexperience in this industry and market, can I still get results?” I was full of anxiety, but things turned out pretty positively!
It would be a lie if I said I was not anxious. I think this was one of the turning points in my career so far, and I grew so much from this.
It is important to learn from those that are more experienced and can help you grow. However, if you depend on it too much, your growth will become passive as well.
That’s why the situation that I was placed in, where there was no immediate or face-to-face guidance, helped me build a stronger sense of ownership over my own work and targets, and ultimately drove me to achieve strong results.
I don’t think there are many companies that entrust newly-joined staff with such responsibility, and this is something that I’m definitely enjoying that is unique to this company.
The presence of local staff members in Taiwan who support each other beyond the boundaries of just colleagues.
With what I shared previously, there was a sense of loneliness when my manager transferred back to Japan. I was afraid that this would be a recurring story during my time here.
However, I started to bond more with my Taiwanese colleagues, and there are regular outings for hotpot meals, watching movies, heading for drinks or even karaoke. Regardless of age or gender, everyone is comfortable being themselves and having fun.
Although some of them are 5-7 years older than me, we can still connect well and we’ve formed strong friendships too. We even talk about serious matters too, and I really enjoy having such a wide range of topics to talk with them. There are so many people here that I can trust!
I’m guessing this experience can only be obtained from AnyMind Group, where more than 90-95% of staff in each country are local.
My ambition for 2020 is to be a better version of myself
Looking back at the past year, there have been so many changes in terms of environments and instances.
For the first time ever, I was involved in AnyMind Group as an intern, straight out of university. I started my professional career! Additionally, I converted from an intern to a full-time employee - another positive step in my career.
Above all, I feel that it was an amazing learning curve as I had the opportunity to engage with many clients.
I want to acquire skills that can be used anywhere, and I want to gain vast exposure! Whilst I have my own way of doing things, there are still some areas that I feel I can improve, including building a better grasp of my emotions.
There were many situations last year where I felt immature, both as a person and as a professional. It might have been because of my pride.
However, I’m in such a supportive environment - from my line manager to colleagues and clients - that I’m able to work on my weaknesses and grow much more.
In 2020, I aspire to be an even more well-rounded professional.
I have met some people in my life that I really respect, but there are three common aspects that really stand out:
- Humbleness and sincerity to everyone
- Respect as a person, even before looking at them in a professional point-of-view
- Having the x-factor
I feel that in 2020, I have the opportunity to build on these aspects for myself.
I’ll face my weaknesses head-on with maturity, and I will produce great results.
Right now, there are still many aspirations for this year that are not concrete yet, but I want to move forward and become a better version of myself this year, and be able to give back to those who have helped me so much.
Let’s head into 2020!!
Speaking as someone who joined the company in the past 1 year, AnyMind Group honestly has a lot of strong people who possess the x-factor, and I think that it’s a really good company for people who want to explore and expand their potential in a new environment.
I want to continue taking on the challenge of becoming a person that can work in any country, and the environment over here helps me grow this, as we don’t just work with local colleagues, but have many cross-border opportunities to collaborate as well.
Thank you for reading to the end!