Interview/ Process design

A Company Free of Gender Consciousness Where You Can Continue to Work as Long as You Want

Natsuki Ito

Natsuki Ito (joined the company in 2016)

Process engineering / Chemical plants

Basic Engineering Department

Chemistry graduate with a major in environmental risk management

Interview

During my internship, I discovered a lively, fun workplace with clear-cut work and non-work modes

Natsuki Ito

My interest in the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group began during an eight-day internship here. My internship’s theme was studying and applying new technologies to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. Before my internship, I didn’t have a clue what Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group did and had only a vague impression that it was a conservative, strait-laced company. But what I found was the opposite of a buttoned-down work environment. People here have clear-cut work and non-work modes — taking their work seriously even as they tell jokes and keep the atmosphere animated. I thought this attitude toward work was fantastic. Lots of non-Japanese people work here, and I had dreamed of working in a place where I could use English on the job. So the deciding factors for me to join Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group were the impressions formed during my internship and the fact that the work was quite similar to what I’d been studying at university.
I’ve been involved in process engineering for chemical plants since joining Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group. Under the supervision of my advisor, I was initially responsible for the design of pumps and other equipment for a fertilizer plant to be built in Uzbekistan. In watching the dedication and perseverance my seniors applied to their work, it struck me how the responsibilities of people in the working world are so much greater than those of students.

The moment on site in Russia when I realized I had become a real member of the team

I was sent to Russia from May to August in my second year at the company for on-site training aimed at young employees. It was my first time to go abroad for work, so my hopes were high. But early on, it was tough communicating with the client and on-site staff members because I couldn’t speak much English.

I was assigned to a plant commissioning team, and with five more experienced Japanese employees, I took daily data samples, kept event logs, and monitored the plant’s operational status. I was often discouraged at first, thinking “I wasn’t able to do anything today.” But as I became better acquainted with my job, I was able to share information with people from other departments at our morning meetings and explain matters to the client in English (with interpretation from English to Russian).

My happiest moment on the job came when I was put in charge of a section that recovered ammonia and hydrogen, and I actually started up the plant. This meant I had to check flow rates, pressures, and other measurements while looking at the plant operations screen, and give accurate instructions to the people on the field. When I got through starting up the plant successfully, I felt I had finally become a real member of the team! I was ecstatic because for so long I had felt I didn’t have enough knowledge, and because I had wanted to be useful to the others on the team. Finishing that trial operation made me eager to be put in charge and take on other endeavors.

People from the Philippines, India, Russia, and other countries worked on the site. Despite our different backgrounds, the teamwork was excellent and everyone understood what they had to do and performed their tasks without being told. The atmosphere was really amazing — so much so that my supervisor even said: “You came to almost the ideal workplace.”

One other memory I have of Russia was drinking everyday [laugh]. It was heartbreaking to hug everyone goodbye before returning to Japan.

My goal is to keep working my entire life

My goal is to keep working my entire life

After coming back from Russia, I’ve been engaged in after-sales service of existing plants as the process engineering representative for the gas purification areas within IGCC* power plants. I’m also currently in charge of purchasing catalysts for a new plant being constructed in Fukushima Prefecture, and preparing procedural documentation for operations. My current goal is to fulfill my role in my immediate IGCC work to the best of my ability. And in the near future, I want to develop a more influential presence in the workplace that draws in others and makes for a better workplace environment.

My longer future goal is to keep on working my entire life. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering (MHIENG) provides flexible working arrangements, and is very accommodating of the many older workers who continue to work while raising children. Students often ask me: “Is MHIENG a good place for women to work?” Honestly, I’ve never been conscious of any differences between men and women here. The culture at MHIENG is very respectful of the will of individuals, and supports taking on constructive challenges — like when they let me start up the plant in Russia after I raised my hand of my own accord. It will definitely be an enormous challenge if I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to balance both home and work life in the future. But I’m prepared to take it on with a forward-looking attitude and keep on working my entire life.

*Integrated coal gasification combined cycle