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Talking with Our Female Employees

akebono encourages the increase and development of women at the workplace. The company received recognition from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare with the Kurumin and Eru Boshi (Grade 3) certifications
for supporting employees in balancing work with childcare, for contributing to the regional community, and for promoting a work environment where employees can engage and release their full potential.
  • Saki Maruta

    Saki Maruta

    Foundation Brake Engineering Department

  • Eri Itami

    Eri Itami

    Corporate Branding Management Office

  • Toshiko Takaguchi

    Toshiko Takaguchi

    Legal and Intellectual Property Department

  • Kazue Haruyama

    Kazue Haruyama

    General Affairs Department

  • Kanami Nakamura

    Kanami Nakamura

    Akebono Research & Development Center Ltd.

*Department names and interview contents on this page are applicable to the time of each interview

What are your work experiencesand what makes your job worthwhile

Saki Maruta

Saki Maruta

I develop friction material (brake pads) for passenger vehicles. Not only R&D, but also Sales, the manufacturing plants, and other departments are involved in the development of new products. Communicating directly with the customers, we continuously improve product performance and aim for better craftsmanship, which allows us to fulfill our customers’ demands. If issues arise during the development phase, we will analyze and solve them in cooperation with other departments. I feel that developing and finalizing products through teamwork makes my work very interesting and worthwhile.

Kanami Nakamura

I work on the research and development of raw materials that are used in brake pads. My research aims to replace currently used materials with other more common resources existing throughout the world. Applying my research in actual testing makes me excited, regardless of the results, and my work more interesting and worthwhile.

Also, through discussions with my seniors and colleagues I can find new approaches and get new ideas, and my daily motivation gets sparked by new information on materials.

Eri Itami

Upon joining akebono, I was assigned to the R&D Division, where I first assisted in the development of friction materials (analyzing surfaces, materials etc.), and then later actually got to develop environmentally friendly friction materials myself. From there, I went to the Quality Assurance Department, where my main task was to conduct regular internal audits once milestones, such as the end of development phase or the end of volume production preparations, had been reached.

Currently, I belong to the Corporate Branding Management Office, and carry out internal branding activities to strengthen our brand image among our employees. Through these internal branding activities, we aim to increase company value (corporate brand management). Additionally, I’m a member of the Diversity Implementation Office, where we strive to create a workplace environment in which all of our diverse talent can demonstrate their full potential, actively engaging in a job they consider worthwhile.

Kazue Haruyama

During my career so far, I have worked at four different departments (Friction Material R&D, Intellectual Property Office, Corporate Branding Management, and Environment Management). Regardless the size of my tasks, I consider them all, one by one, fulfilling and enriching, as I could acquire knowledge and diverse experiences that are not only limited to chemical knowledge but also include knowledge of (sentence) syntax and management strategies among others.

At Friction Material R&D, where I was first assigned, my opinions were accepted although I was still just a newcomer. At the Intellectual Property Office, sentences I had edited – even if it was just a little - were used in patent descriptions. At Corporate Branding Management, I met akebono employees from all over the world, got to know various viewpoints and built personal relationships. All of these experiences I can apply even at my current job, and I think it’s a good thing I could learn so much.

Now, I belong to the Environment Department. Considering the environment, my goal is to aim for manufacturing that allows people to live in harmony with nature and to push the boundaries of the company, so I can create a great future for my children and grandchildren.

Toshiko Takaguchi

Toshiko Takaguchi

For the first five years after joining akebono, I worked in the Purchasing Planning Department, supporting buyers (i.e. handling supplier payments, ISO regulations and compliance with the Subcontract Act). After that, I transferred to the General Affairs Department, and now, I belong to the Legal Affairs Office. My main task is screening contracts. However, their contents are very specialized, and so I struggle every day, as each case, from small matters to big ones, refers to a completely different field. While dealing with and studying for each case, I get to know akebono more deeply, and this makes my work feel worthwhile.

As a project member, I have also been involved in the annual shareholders’ meeting, one of the company’s biggest events. One of my main tasks was to create and send out the convocation notices for the shareholders’ meeting. As those convocation notices must contain certain matters stipulated by Japanese law as well as requirements of the corporate governance code, we need to identify which information to include, and finally create the convocation notices with the help of related departments. The main aim is to have our shareholders understand akebono’s situation. Although this comes with great responsibility, I feel my work is worthwhile.

After joining akebono, how do you think about work-life balance?

Saki Maruta

As my time is limited, I started to think about how to use it more efficiently. It’s important to work hard, but you should also enjoy your private life.

Recently, I really got into camping and have been to Chichibu, Gunma, and Karuizawa with my university friends. By enjoying my free time on holidays, I feel refreshed and motivated again to do my best at work.

Kanami Nakamura

In my department, we rarely need to work overtime, so I can enjoy my time in the evenings. Having dinner with people from different departments or participating otherwise in interactions with other employees, I get to learn many new things and viewpoints. Also, I think I have a good work environment because the people around me work very positively and vigorously.

Eri Itami

Eri Itami

It’s definitely possible to balance work with private life, and I think it’s becoming the norm. Though everyone has a different background - single, married, with or without kids – if you really care about balancing your work-life with your private life, you will find many opportunities at akebono. Work-life balance doesn’t mean you will be limited professionally.

It describes a way of living, a way of working that creates new value – by working more efficiently in a shorter amount of time while keeping a high level of quality, you can free up time for your private life. This work style makes both the company and the employees happy, so I will continue to promote it.

Kazue Haruyama

I got married during my third year at akebono. One year later, my first daughter was born and my second daughter followed when I had been eight years with akebono. Before getting married, my life revolved around work during the week, and on days off I could spend time just for myself. After getting married and having kids, I started working reduced hours and could – and still can - freely use my paid leave for my kids as well as other private matters.

The reason I can still balance work and private life is thanks to the support of many people, within the company as well as in my family. I try to keep in mind, that it’s not a given to receive such a supporting work style, and to be able to continue working.

Toshiko Takaguchi

I didn’t really think about balancing work and private life for the first few years after joining akebono and just kept working hard. I still don’t actively think about it. However, if I were to refer to something that made me change, I assume it would be the period a few years ago when I had to stop working for a while because of falling ill. I felt sorry for my supervisor and co-workers and also insecure and stressed about taking such a long time off. From this experience, I learned that it’s important to be in good health both physically and mentally, and now try to properly separate work and private life.

What do you think about the company’s support system?

Saki Maruta

My work environment allows me to take days off freely. I think we have a good support system which can be seen with the maternity and childcare leave, for example.

In comparison with Sales and other indirect operations, the R&D department doesn’t have that many female employees yet, but most of my seniors have actually taken maternity leave, childcare leave, or use the shortened working hours system. Team members try their best to support one another, and that creates a positive atmosphere, allowing us to use these systems during our careers.

Kanami Nakamura

It really helps that we have the opportunity to live in a company dorm (a rented apartment) costing us only 10,000 yen per month for the first 5 years after joining akebono.

Also, akebono has good support systems for female employees, and I often hear people saying that we have a comfortable working environment. Even after getting married or giving birth, I can keep working in akebono without worrying. We have so many systems that I still don’t know all of them, but my senior employees always help me when I have questions.

Eri Itami

Our systems that support balancing work and private life are well-organized, and I’ve never felt any difficulties in making use of them. In all the departments I’ve worked for, everyone was understanding which I really appreciate.

I took childcare leave before, and felt it was easy to return to work. Looking back, I have seen people stress about taking leave, but I hope these people don’t quit but come back and continue to work.

Kazue Haruyama

Kazue Haruyama

The employees’ opinions have been well implemented in the childcare system, making it flexible to adjust to our needs. I’m especially grateful for being able to use the shortened working hours system until our children will have finished the 6th grade of elementary school, and I plan to keep using the system up to that moment. Whenever I talk with other parents at the nursery school, I realize I’m blessed with a great work environment. In the newest system, we can receive support from the company during childcare leave, and I feel that it brings the company closer to its employees.

Also, I’m happy to receive my supervisors’ and co-workers’ understanding and support using the systems despite me occasionally having to take days off suddenly or my shortened working hours.

Toshiko Takaguchi

I appreciated the company’s understanding for me taking leave after I fell ill. At that time, I was really worried about leaving the workplace and being left with no income after having worked for five years at akebono. However, the HR representative was friendly, listened to me, and kindly explained akebono’s systems and how to use the company benefits to me. Also, my supervisor at that time told me to rest without worrying. I felt truly grateful for akebono’s systems, my supervisor, and co-workers, and from that moment on, I have been convinced that akebono is a good place to work at.

I also use the flex-time system, which helps me adjusting my starting and finishing hours as it takes me some time to commute to the workplace. Besides that, I use this system on days when I feel a bit ill to avoid morning rush hours, or when family members are ill.

What are some future goals and aspirations you want to achieve through work?

Saki Maruta

There are many people at akebono who design great careers for themselves while making use of the different support systems such as childcare leave and shortened working hours. So I, too, am trying to become one of these role models. Furthermore, I would like to gain deeper knowledge of not only friction materials but all car systems, to become an engineer who can develop even better products.

Kanami Nakamura

Kanami Nakamura

Everything is still new to me because it hasn’t been long since I joined akebono. I learn from everything I do, so giving my best for every task will help me increase my skills even more.

My goal right now is to have the materials I’ve developed used for brake pads, and that those brake pads would finally go into volume production.

Eri Itami

My biggest dream is world peace. As it’s the peace of each individual in sum that creates this world peace, of course, retaining peace in my family comes first, but yet another aspiration of mine is to create a work environment where all employees can work enthusiastically and enjoy ever-increasing job satisfaction. A way to make my dream come true is by promoting diversity and inclusion. Through this, the company will grow continuously and keep contributing to society. My aim is to make the Diversity Implementation Office redundant. In other words, my goal is to make diversity become the norm.

Kazue Haruyama

『I want to leave a mark. It doesn’t have to be a big one, but I want to leave good results from the work I’m involved with. This is a life-long dream, my goal, and also the purpose behind my work. Also, when my kids start job hunting, I want be able to give them advice using my experience and (laughing), once they’re employed, have some venting sessions about work with them over a drink.

Toshiko Takaguchi

I want to become an indispensable talent. The supervisors I respect accurately understand others’ goals and aspirations, and rather than providing only what’s requested, they always provide more, thus adding additional value to their actions. This creates trust and makes the supervisors irreplaceable. One of my goals is to become that kind of person.

Message to students in the middle of job hunting

  • Saki Maruta
  • Saki MarutaJoined in 2011, Foundation Brake Engineering Department
  • To me, akebono is a company that provides opportunities for everyone. You can grow without fearing to make mistakes and you can challenge yourself in various fields. While developing friction materials, I was told: “It’s ok even if you make mistakesl, so just try it!” We have a cooperative atmosphere where employees help each other if someone makes a mistake.

    Also, we have good support systems for employees and I believe this makes akebono a great work environment for people who want the most out of both, work and private life.

  • Kanami Nakamura
  • Kanami NakamuraJoined in 2015, Akebono Research & Development Center Ltd.
  • I think there are many good companies out there, and only you can make the decision which one to join. Use your eyes, ears, and feet to make sure your job hunting is without regret.

    From my experience, it’s most important to go and see for yourselves - not only akebono, but also various other companies. I hope you visit to akebono to see employees working, talk with them directly and get to know more about the company, and I’d be happy if you decided to make akebono one of your choices.

  • Eri Itami
  • Eri ItamiJoined in 2000, Corporate Branding Management Office
  • A company is a place for self-realization and work is a means for achieving your dreams and aspirations. Working with this in mind, I believe you can become indispensable for the company, and also enrich your private life. Please think of what you want to achieve in your life and what you should do to live it without regrets when choosing a company. Let’s work together if you want to provide safety and peace of mind all over the world and contribute to society through developing, manufacturing, and selling brakes.

  • Kazue Haruyama,
  • Kazue HaruyamaJoined in 2002, General Affairs Department
  • I want students currently seeking for jobs to go and see various companies in person and from different viewpoints. Instead of choosing a company because of a TV commercial or the brand name, talk directly with the employees and feel the work atmosphere in their offices, so you can learn something you can’t understand from only reading about it.

    The same applies for students who are thinking about joining akebono. I want you to interact directly with various employees and situations at akebono. There are so many types of tasks and people at akebono, and you will spend your days with people you’ve never met before, working together for the same goal. You shouldn’t be overly tenacious, but always keep true to yourself.

  • Toshiko Takaguchi
  • Toshiko TakaguchiJoined in 2006, Legal and Intellectual Property Department
  • I think there are many companies to choose from.
    There may be people who are interested in akebono, but don’t know cars too well. However, you will get to know the products after joining akebono, and I’m sure there will be many things you didn’t know, leading to a lot of questions and wanting to learn more.
    One attractive point of being in the manufacturing industry is that we are close to the products. So don’t limit the range of your interests, and try out different types of tasks. I’m glad if akebono will be one of your choices.

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