◆Ms. Vicki L. Beyer
Currently Employment Counsel for Japan, Senior Manager at Accenture Japan, Ltd., Tokyo Japan, formerly Executive Director, Legal and Compliance Division at Morgan Stanley, Tokyo Japan for 14 years, Associate Professor and Director, Law School Program in Japan at Temple University, Japan Campus for 6 years and Assistant Professor of Law at Bond University School of Law, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia for 5 years.
Interviewer, Makiko Tachimori Fukui
President of Harmony Residence, Inc.
■Please tell us about your most dynamic career change, which was from Academia to Corporate?
The most dynamic career change in my life was when I moved to the Legal and Compliance Division at Morgan Stanley from the academic position I had at the Law School Program of Temple University, Japan.
I joined Temple University as an Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Law School Program which was like being a Dean. The job was heavily administrative and management type of work rather than pure academic work.
I was very excited by the role, but gradually I felt that I did not have enough time for search work and as time goes by I started to feel my Professional Growth was stagnating. Professional Growth is a very important factor to me in my career. I felt that I could not continue to grow in this position and luckily when I was feeling it was Time for a Change, I was offered a position at Morgan Stanley, as COO of the legal department, a job where I was able to contribute my administrative and organizational problem solving skills and also at the same time develop my skills as a corporate lawyer.
■Making a career change especially to a totally different field is always very challenging and not many people can successfully achieve this as you have. What kind of efforts were you making in order to seize such great opportunities?
I always tried hard to do my current job well. That is to say thatI worked hard and tried my best on whatever work I had in front of me. I had to teach myself a lot. This is very important, because, for example, if I got bored or felt stuck at my work and if I put less effort, it would make the situation worse for me. It would become a negative spiral. That is why I always try my best no matter what the situation is, and even if I didn’t particularly care for the work.
In Japan, sometimes many people lose track of this approach because Japanese people often regard stability as the most important value. If you emphasize it too much, you don’t take positive actions and keep standing still. Standing still means that you are going backwards even when you don’t realize that others are moving forward. I think this is very dangerous and again my advice is to always ask yourself, “Am I growing enough? Am I learning from this?” And always keep moving forward and trying my best.
■It is truly a great advice. What else do you put efforts in to seize the great opportunities?
I try to talk to as many people as possible about my ambitions and get their thoughts. I also put efforts into communicating with people positively, showing that I am happy but could be happier and that I am always looking for more challenging new opportunities.
How you communicate about yourself is very important. You don’t want to send out messages that you are an unhappy person. Never say that you are unhappy at your current work. A good message is to express that you like your job but also that you are ready to take on new challenges and present your current skills. This way you will be considered as a dynamic person who is happy and willing to keep challenging. This is the type of person most companies would like to hire. This also applies not only to outside of the company but within your company when you are looking for another opportunity.
■Never be an unhappy person but be a happier person is a great advice. Please tell us more about what we should keep in mind when communicating with our bosses about our career.
In regards to challenging new opportunities, women tend to be less aggressive, often passively waiting until somebody offers them a new chance. This is not often the way to seize great chances. Men are more aggressive and express this attitude by saying, “What’s next?” to their bosses. Bosses like to hear that their people are willing to take on new challenges. Unless you communicate this openly, no one will notice your feelings. You will not get the chances unless you express your feeling. My advice to a lot of women is to go out and express your willingness and eagerness about your career, never stand still and keep waiting for somebody to ask you anything.
■I agree very much with you about this going forward attitude. Please tell us one more efforts you put to seize the great opportunities.
In addition to being a happier person and communicating to the outside world,I worked hard to improve my communication skills by joining a Toast Masters Club. I learned so many valuable communication skills through this club and I regret that I didn’t do it 20 years ago. You don’t realize how valuable these communication skills are in your work, until you start learning these skills and using them
■Thank you very much for your great advice. Lastly please tell us about your parents and what you learned from them.
My parents, particularly my father always said to me, “You can do anything you want to and achieve anything you wish. There is nothing that a man can do that a woman can’t do.” I am grateful that my parents brought me up this way. I truly believe in this and wish more and more Japanese women will also shift their thinking this way and take on new challenges.