Life at VMware Who We Are

Stories of Who We Are: Taiko Kobayashi — Bright Future in Tokyo

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Job title: Network and Security Sales Lead, Japan
Base of operations:  Karuizawa, Japan. I moved here from central Tokyo four years ago. Before the pandemic, I would go into the Hamamatsucho office in Tokyo four days a week.
Years at VMware: 5
Favorite “quarantine” activity: Runs with my dogs

What did a typical day look like for you before the pandemic?
On days I went into the Tokyo office, I would spend about four hours commuting to and from work. On the train, I would get work done: answer emails, catch up on internal and global news, watch meeting recordings, do e-learning, etc. Once I got to the office, I would take part in team meetings and go on customer/partner visits. On days that I worked from home, I would have those extra four hours to myself.

How has your work life changed since the pandemic?
My work life has changed for the better. Now that I am always working from home, I have no commuting time at all. I use this extra time to be with my dogs!

What has not changed since the pandemic?
Due to the coronavirus, full-time remote work has continued this year. But the work style itself — in which each person shares their schedule properly and decides how to spend time and work on their own — has not changed from before. We focus on efficiency and make meetings as short as possible. But even so, when something goes wrong, we all get together — even if it’s late — and discuss it seriously until it’s resolved. We survive with strong teamwork.

A few years ago, Kobayashi-san moved from Tokyo to Karuizawa, a resort town in the mountains.

In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. Can you share your experiences working as a woman in tech in Japan?
I worked for IBM Japan, which was quite advanced for gender diversity, for 28 years. When I joined IBM as a new graduate, I was a Sales Representative. At that time, women salespeople were very rare in the IT industry in Japan. I faced several challenges at first. But I continued in the sales role and built my career at IBM, where I had a lot of women seniors and colleagues.

The proportion of women in VMware Japan is still lower than in other countries, but it’s improving dramatically because of our leaders’ strong focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. I would like to contribute to creating a friendly atmosphere at the company by showing my working style.

As a manager, how do you approach remote work with your team?
There should be trust among managers and team members. I think managers should create an environment where each person can freely come up with ideas. People can work anywhere as long as their work goals are clear, and they can freely think of ways to accomplish them. I think this leads to trust among the team.

Will you go back to the office full-time once the pandemic is over? Why or why not?
I plan to work flexibly, sometimes working from home and sometimes going into the office. We proved during the pandemic that we can work remotely with digital tools. But face-to-face communication is important, not only with customers and partners but with colleagues as well. 

How do you think the work culture will change in Japan post-pandemic?
The pandemic proved that working from home works in Japan, too. I believe the work culture will change in Japan, especially with younger people selecting companies where a flexible workstyle is allowed.  

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