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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May. 2014)

Message to the second century

Utilizing the strengths of university to approach healthcare for the elderly through a diverse partnership

The world opened before my eyes thanks to fellow students with diverse backgrounds and values.

Makiko Eda
President, Intel Corporation (Japan)

Within a rapidly changing IT industry, Intel continues to exert a strong presence as a manufacturer of semiconductors. Eda utilized her business experience in the United States and her leadership skills to work in a series of important posts. Just last year, she was appointed President of Intel’s Japanese subsidiary. When reflecting on her time at Waseda University, Eda says that she had many opportunities to experience a variety of worlds. Eda discussed her path in life so far, particularly how her time as a university student made her the woman she is today. What did Eda learn as a university student and how did she open new doors for herself?

If you are interested, try it!

――Why did you decided to study at Waseda University? Also, how was your life as a university student?

When I was a high school student, I set my heart on studying sociology at university. Sociology is a discipline which uses statistics and other methods to construct theories and to research the workings of individuals, organizations and governments, things which cannot be grasped through logic alone. In this way, I was strongly attracted by how sociology combines both science and the humanities. I chose Waseda University because it offers so many opportunities in the field of sociology.

After enrolling at Waseda, I entered a seminar taught by Professor Kanji Masaoka, an expert in the field of family sociology. In the seminar, I conducted research on life stages. Professor Masaoka was born in Hiroshima Prefecture and had been exposed to radiation as the result on nuclear weapons used in World War II. Professor Masaoka told many personal stories which I will never forget. The most stimulating thing about Waseda University was how students gathered from throughout Japan and across the world to study in the school's free and open-minded atmosphere. All of these students brought different experiences and backgrounds with them. I was born and raised in Tokyo and had attended an all-girls school for junior high school and high school. For me, the world opened before my eyes when interacting with such diverse people. While at university, I followed my heart and tried anything that interested me, from basketball to playing in a band. I was able to spend such a fulfilling university lifestyle because of fellow students who helped me act on my desire to try new things.

Similarity between Waseda and Intel

――You moved to the United States after graduation. Would you please discuss what sparked your interest in overseas and the path you followed abroad?

When I was a student, although the Equal Employment Opportunity Law had been passed in Japan, women were still only able to perform well in a few fields. I wanted to fully pursue my own potential and become capable of doing anything. When searching for an environment which would let me grow in such ways, my attention naturally shifted to outside of Japan.

Instead of relying on my parents to finance my study abroad, I got it by using scholarships. I felt that since I wasn't receiving protection from anyone, I was free to decide my own path in life. I didn't feel the slightest uneasiness regarding living overseas. I just focused on moving forward. Now, looking back at that period of my life, I realize how wonderful it is to be young!

I continued to study sociology overseas. After finishing graduate school, I found employment at a local company and worked in marketing. Upon entering the company, I was happy at how I was treated the same as other employees. Instead of looking at nationality, gender or age, my superiors assigned me work based on the knowledge and skill that I had gained so far. Of course, with such responsibility came pressure. However, my superiors patiently taught me the basics of business and I was able to steadily increase my ability.

After 10 years of living in the United States, I decided to return to Japan in 1997. My decision was based on concern for my aging parents and on a feeling of achievement in all that I had experienced overseas. About 3 years after returning to Japan, I received an offer to work as a market research manager at Intel. After reading a book writing by founding member Andrew Grove, I had always viewed Intel as an attractive company. I accepted the job offer without hesitation.

At Intel, employees communicate actively and a variety of chances are available based on ability. In this respect, Intel is similar to Waseda’s free and open-minded atmosphere. For me, Intel is a very exciting and comfortable workplace.

――Please discuss what you focus on as a leader.

A day off when working in Asia

I give top priority to developing an environment which enables the organization to move quickly. To achieve this goal, I work to understand the way of thinking and behavioral pattern of each individual in the organization. I learned this attitude while serving as Manager of the Marketing and Sales Headquarters which covers the entire Asia-Pacific region. I held this post until immediately before I became President.

At that time, about 100 employees from 26 different countries and regions worked in the Marketing and Sales Division. The diverse cultural backgrounds and customs of members sometimes resulted in surprising ideas and behaviors. However, I focused on the importance of eliciting the reason behind such surprising behavior. I was able to foster mutual understanding by listening carefully to the voices of all employees.

Interestingly enough, all employees ultimately seek to contribute to the company through fulfilling work and to build a happy family life. Fundamentally, people aren't all that different. This was a great realization for me.

I can't help but enjoy working at a company where I can make new discoveries while interacting with other diverse employees. When analyzing myself, it seems that I am filled with a never-ending curiosity towards others. I feel that this trait hasn't changed since I studied sociology as a university student.

Focus on the task at hand

――What qualities are required to perform well with a global perspective? Also, what are your expectations for Waseda University?

The speed of change in international society is changing every year. Therefore, the ability to adapt is essential when performing well on a global scale. Also, in order to broaden your horizons, it is important to make friends whose values and background differ from your own. The friends I made at Waseda University and other places throughout life have supported me and made me the person I am today.

In that respect, I think it is fabulous that Waseda University has opened an international student dormitory. I hope that the university will continue to actively provide opportunities for students to interact with people from throughout the world.

――As one of the few female executives in Japan, please give a message of encouragement to female students.

In the future, I hope to realize a society where female executives are commonplace. My generation must play a leading role in creating such a business environment. I promise to try my hardest. I would like to ask one thing of students: don't place limits on yourself. There is no sense in “saving” yourself for the future, in letting thoughts of marriage and child-raising interfere with your current life. If there is something that you want to do, just focus on the task at hand.

Makiko Eda
President, Intel Corporation (Japan)

In 1988, Makiko Eda graduated from Department of Philosophy at the Waseda University School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I with a major in sociology. In 1990, she completed graduate school at University of Arkansas (United States). Afterwards, she worked in marketing at university hospitals and other institutions in the US. She returned to Japan in 1997. After working at Japan Marketing Research Association, she entered Intel (Japan) in 2000. As Manager of Marketing Headquarters she supervised brand, marketing campaigns and the Corporative Sales Division. From 2010, she served as Manager of Marketing and Consumer Sales at Intel Semiconductor (managing company for the Asia-Pacific region) in Hong Kong. She has been in her current position since 2013.