"Diverse People" introduces some of the diverse employees making their mark in the JVCKENWOOD Group around the world. In this, our second overseas edition of the series, we introduce employees working at three of our production bases in Thailand and Malaysia.
Tan Ah Choon
Joined JKEM in 1997. Division Manager, General Administration Division.
Joined the company in 1997. After graduating from university in Taiwan, Tan Ah Choon continue his master degree study in Japan, where she specialized in management and accounting. She worked for a Japanese company for several years before joining JKEM as a system engineer. After worked as Head of the IT department and the Operation Control Division, she became Division Manager of the General Administration Division in 2014.
I joined JKEM as a system engineer and became manager of the IT department after a year. After that, I worked as the Manager of Material Administration Department, Deputy Division Manager of General Administration Division, and Division Manager of Operation Control Division, and I have been in my current position of Division Manager of the General Administration Division since 2014. Of course, my work has many challenges, but I don’t want it all to be just tough and difficult; I want to be able to enjoy my work. I also make a point of trying something different that I’ve never done before. It’s no fun doing the same thing all the time, so I try to suggest new ideas, even just one thing that everyone can approach with enjoyment. For example, JKEM has a campaign every year to promote 5S. If we were to simply go through the motions and do the same thing we do every year, the message would not get through to the employees, so I suggested that we come up with an original 5S song. I asked one employee who is very good at music to compose it, and gathered several members who are good singers together to record it in an actual recording studio. Now, we play it every Friday during 5S time. This is something that other companies don’t have and the employees love it. I want to keep coming up with these kinds of ideas and create a workplace environment in which the employees can enjoy their work.
Balancing Work and Home Life
For six years, from when I got married until our youngest child turned three, we employed a domestic helper. Since then, with the help of a part-time domestic helper, our whole family shares the housework. I think it is probably the same in any country, but the key is to use the resources available as much as possible within the constraints of time and money. For example, if both parents work, asking the grandparents to look after the children during certain hours, or leaving the children with a babysitter during the week. Also, unlike Japan, Malaysia has very little of that mindset that "housework is women’s work." Husband and wife both work and husband and wife both do the housework and look after the children. Moreover, we also have the support of our parents and neighbors. With this kind of environment, gender has nothing to do with actively participating at work, and we are assigned work according to our abilities and aptitude.
Diversity & Inclusion
In Malaysia, people of multiple ethnicities, such as Malay, Chinese, and Indian, live alongside each other. Naturally, their religion and customs are also different, so companies need to be innovative and accommodating to create workplaces that are pleasant and comfortable for employees with diverse backgrounds. For example, on Fridays, Muslims have to go to the mosque to pray, so the lunch hour is a little longer than usual on Fridays. Also, during fasting periods, they are not able to eat while the sun is up. The times at which they take meals become irregular, so during this period, they are able to change their break times. Besides, employees bring a variety of requests every day. At times like that, I believe that balance is important. For example, if a certain community makes some kind of request, it may be something that would inconvenience other people. At such times, I bring the people involved together and we debate the issue. We may not necessarily come up with an answer that satisfies everyone, but I think it is important to explain carefully why they feel the need for that request and to discuss the issue on that basis.
In Malaysia, throughout its long history, multiple ethnic groups have lived side by side. In Japan, there are fewer opportunities to encounter other cultures, so when we do encounter different cultures, we tend to tense up. In this country, however, people come into contact with different cultures on a daily basis, and they respect each other’s culture and customs as a matter of course as they go about their lives. In Malaysia, as people come into contact with each other, though their culture, language and religion may differ, they are all human beings with the same human emotions, and I have gained a real sense that responding to those feelings individually is what good communication is all about. I think there is much we can learn from Malaysia about things like respect for diversity and acceptance of other cultures.
Exterior of JKEM
Parts Management Floor
Muslims are given special Scarf
Joined JKET in 1991. Manager, Personnel Administration Division.
Wanpen Inrueng joined JKET in 1991 after graduating from a Thai university. After handling personnel planning for the Manufacturing Division, she was put in charge of supplies and production planning. Later, she was transferred to the Personnel Administration Division, where she now works as a manager in human resources development, CSR, facilities management, and other responsibilities.
What are the lasting impressions of your career so far?
Since graduating from university and joining JKET, more than 25 years have gone by in a flash. In that time, I have experienced a range of divisions, including manufacturing, purchasing, production planning, and personnel administration. The thing that left the greatest impression was when I was working on a CSR project and we won the CSR-DIW Continuous Award 2018 (official award title to be advised) from the Ministry of Industry. To enter for the award, we had to submit a massive amount of data to the secretariat. There was so many requirements and deadlines to meet, so we had to deal with the relevant divisions many, many times, particularly the Environmental Division. Of course, I was very happy when we learned that we had won, but what was even better was that this award gave us more opportunity to promote JKET’s initiatives to the public, and it gives me the most joy that our people have more chances to go out into society.
I think JKET has many opportunities for challenge, regardless of gender. Recently, we have been sending our employees to various companies in Thailand and to group companies in other countries for training. If we only see what’s happening in our own company, we will be like the frog in the well that is ignorant of the rest of the world. The aim of this initiative is to give the participants a better awareness of their own position by seeing other companies. Conversely, it often happens that, by seeing what’s outside, they can see what is good about their own company. Also, there would not be much point in just looking, so we ask them to bring back the good things they saw and to present one kaizen proposal each and implement it as a project. I also went on this training myself, and I saw that the company I was assigned to was making great progress in health management, so I wanted to do something to promote health at JKET well. My proposals included offering more low-calorie options in the cafeteria and exercising during breaks.
What are your future goals?
I have been given the opportunity to take on many challenges in various departments. Going forward, I would like to make use of the experiences I have accumulated to cultivate personnel with the skills and mindset needed for the company’s development. Having been here so long, I also have a love for the company. So I want to make it a company in which the people who come after me can work for many years with that same love. In terms of the future, I want to aim to become a top executive. There are many female CEOs and company presidents in Thailand, and women are working at the top levels of government, bureaucracy, and even soccer clubs, so I don’t think aiming to become a top executive is too high a goal. To achieve that goal, I want to keep increasing my own knowledge and skills and improving myself every day.
When I first found out about this posting, I was thrilled, thinking that I would make full use of my past experiences to engage in reform. However, I encountered numerous occasions in which those experiences that had been effective in the past were not working. When I looked back over my own words and actions, I realized that the problem was that my methods of direction and communication were not suited to the values and customs of the Thai people. In order to understand Thai people, after speaking to many experts and people with experience, I learned that it was important to gain their true trust. Now, when I pursue various reforms, I make a point of explaining in detail so they understand why the reforms are necessary and of doing it together to show them how it is done. Going forward, I will put effort into nurturing the next generation who have potential, regardless of gender or academic background, and make JKET a world class factory that can compete with other companies.
Exterior of JKET
Thorough 5S on each floor
Joined JKOT in 2017. IT Section, Engineering Department.
Visit Chatpimonrut majored in Computer Engineering at university. After graduation, he worked as a programmer at a game company for two years before joining JKOT in 2017. He is currently responsible for software development and programming in the IT section.
Career to Date
When I was 12 years old, I lost my right arm in an accident. I accidentally touched an electric wire on my way home from a soccer match. The wire sparked all of a sudden and I was transferred to a hospital unconscious. The doctor told me that I had no choice but to cut my arm off, so I underwent amputation.
I majored in computer engineering at university and studied control hardware programming, embedded systems, and printed circuit board design. However, finding a job after graduation was not easy. Some companies didn’t even give me a chance to apply just because I was physically disabled. Then I finally found a job at a game company where I worked for two years as a programmer.
Later, I applied to JKOT to work for a manufacturer. Since it was one of my career goals, I was so happy and thrilled when I received a letter of acceptance.
What kind of work are you doing now?
At the moment, I am working on in-house intranet system development and supporting user. Recently, I developed a barcode system for managing shipments. Previously, finished products had to be sorted by sight prior to shipment, but the introduction of my barcode system has made it possible to manage shipments more accurately and smoothly. I’ve also developed a bookings management system for in-house equipment and a system for counting attendees at company events. I want to keep studying many more things and become a specialist who is able to make JKOT’s operations more efficient from the IT aspect.
Diversity & Inclusion
JKOT makes a variety of accommodations for employees with disabilities and pregnant women. For example, the parking spaces closest to the office are allocated for the exclusive use of people with physical disabilities and pregnant women. These people are also given different break times so they can use the cafeteria and the restrooms with peace of mind. Also, JKOT has a culture of entrusting work to people based on their capabilities, regardless of whether or not they have a disability. The other day, I made a business trip to Singapore and Malaysia to attend a company-wide IT global meeting. At that meeting, I learned about cyber security, as well as about organizational behavior and culture, and I was able to tour the production bases in both countries. I could see that they were very advanced in terms of the introduction of IT, so I found it very stimulating.
What I felt when I was first posted to Thailand was that gender equality is very firmly embedded here. For example, in many cases, the husband and wife cooperate in looking after children and housework, and they even have the help of their own parents as well. With this background, women come back to work quite soon after childbirth and they are back to a normal working schedule almost immediately. The people here also place great importance in family. For example, if one of their family is sick, it is quite natural for them to take the day off to take him/her to the doctor’s. In Japan, there is a feeling that putting family over work is frowned upon, but when I look at the people here, it makes me realize anew that there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting your family first.
Exterior of JKOT
Line exclusively for pregnant women
Parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities and pregnant women
* Job titles and affiliations are as of publication time.