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Martin, former V.I.E. program participant, Japan

What is your current role in Arkema?

I am beginning an assignment in India as the manager of a technical department. This time it is in the transportation market and extrusion technologies.

What has been your career path?

I have an engineering degree in materials science and engineering from the INSA school in Lyon. When I graduated, I did a two-year V.I.E. program at the technical center in Kyoto as a technical support engineer in the field of polyamides and applications linked to injection technology (sport, electronics, etc.).

What exactly did your V.I.E. assignment consist of?

My role was to provide technical assistance to the development engineers who work there: organizing the lab tests, looking after the machines, reorganizing the inventory, sending samples to South Korea, and so on. I was also in charge of organizing some tests requested by our colleagues in France, related to the development of new products for the sports market.

What skills were required?

You need some knowledge of the chemistry of polymers, analytical chemistry, and the mechanics of plastic and elastic materials. But since my V.I.E. program was very much a technical role, I was able to learn a lot while I was there. It helps with integration if you speak Japanese, obviously, even though most of the Japanese colleagues speak English. Meetings, even internal ones, were generally in English. 

Why did you choose Arkema for this V.I.E. project?

Arkema was one of the few companies offering experience in a technical center, and the description given during my interview in Kyoto appealed to me; lots of lab work, making my own evaluations, and so on.

How did your induction go?

I was lucky enough to spend a month in our French R&D center, where I learned a lot. The Japanese team was also very welcoming. They helped me with everything, and always with a sweetness that is very Japanese! It's better if you enjoy the after-work outings (although naturally they are not mandatory!).

What are the advantages of doing the V.I.E. program in Arkema?

Accommodation expenses in Japan are partly financed by the local team. The working conditions are excellent: flexible hours, the same annual leave as in France… In terms of management, I got good support from the local Japanese management and the French management in Asia. I also found it very satisfying that Arkema is involved in so many different markets: from sports to the auto industry, not forgetting medical technology, and uses cutting edge technologies (3D printing, etc.).

What challenges do you like to take on?

Getting people from very different cultures and faraway places to work together and bring a project to fruition. Constantly improving the quality of the work and my team's response time.

Is there a particular memory from your V.I.E. program that stands out?

You can't talk about working in Japan without mentioning the "bonenkai"; the year-end parties typical of Japanese companies. The Japanese team was very close-knit and likeable; I also got on very well with other French colleagues.

Is there anything about yourself that you would like to share?

Like many people, I love to travel and learn about new cultures, as well as learning the languages of the countries I'm in.

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