Jun Shiraishi, IE International MBA 2016 graduate, has just started as Finance Manager for the Lilly MBA Leadership Development Program in Kobe, Japan. He has shared a detailed account of his career background and how he has managed to achieve this new role. The most critical part about his recruitment processes where before they even started, before he even started drafting CVs or Cover Letters. Jun emphasizes on the importance of knowing yourself and knowing what you want in order to have success, and during his interview, he provides a very structured approach at solving this part of the career strategy equation.
Q: Can you please tell us briefly what your previous job was about? Did you make a significant career change after IE?
A: My first job after my undergraduate studies was IT/process consultant at one of the leading consulting firms in Japan. Based in Tokyo, I engaged in many projects for major Japanese listed companies. The scope of the projects focused on improving client’s internal business operation. In these projects, I was mainly in charge of management accounting area, such as budgeting and costing. The industries that my clients belonged to were diverse: electronic devices, FMCG, chemical, real estate, and railway transportation.
I worked for this consulting firm for 4 and half years. I enjoyed being involved in clients’ decision making process for their changing business operation. However, I started to think that with my finance expertise I wanted to get involved in decision making process for business itself, not just in internal operation. That is why I decided to change my job.
After the consulting firm, I started to work for a global major agrochemical and seeds company. My position was a dual role: finance business controller and pricing operation manager in Tokyo office. In these roles, by leading many internal stakeholders, I coordinated product pricing optimization as well as formulated company’s sales & expense budget and mitigation plans. These activities, I believe, helped the management make decisions for the company’s business.
Q: Close to graduation, you received several offers. It was evident that you had a strong tendency to work for Financial departments, however in very diverse industries: IT/Tech, consulting, pharma/healthcare. It seems that your personal career strategy always been focused on Finance. How did you decided which industries did you want to work in? Did you have a strategy in place? Are you of the opinion to focus on industries or functionalities?
A: I am of the opinion to focus on functionalities. Throughout my previous job, I mainly focused on tactical tasks of short-term profit control, such as product pricing. Then, I started to have an opinion that any kind of business tactic never works unless fundamental business strategy is property set. With this idea, I decided to aim for an MBA to deepen my understanding over corporate/business strategy as well as useful tools to support it, such as corporate finance. After the MBA, and by leveraging on my finance skills, I wanted to get involved in corporate/business strategy that guides company’s direction in longer term. This was the most important priority in choosing my job after MBA, and in fact the all offers I received satisfied this criterion. In this perspective, I had two options: working as a consultant for a financial advisory service (FAS) firm or as a finance person for an industry sector. Listening to possible career path in both options, I found that I preferred working in an industry sector because I wanted to get involved in a company’s strategy for long term perspective.
In the begging of my job hunt, I did not care so much about the industry. I was confident that I would enjoy any kind of industry based on my experience as a consultant that worked for many different industries. However, I intended to choose industries that are growing even in mature markets. In my previous job, I experienced working in agrochemical and seeds sector. In Japan, this sector is already mature, so that most of the strategies the company adopted focused on defensive/maintaining strategy. Working in an industry that is growing even in mature countries, I thought, would enable me to have different perspectives. IT and healthcare sectors are growing in my home country Japan. This is how I decided to focus on IT and healthcare.
Q: How did you find out about this job opportunity?
A: There are many IE Alumni hired by Lilly’s MBA program, so that I had the opportunity to listen to their experience.
Q: How did Talent and Careers and your IE experience help you during the recruiting process?
A: I really appreciate the services provided by IE Talent and Careers. The Career Advisors there provided me with a lot of useful resources. Without their support, I would not be able to receive the offers. Not only did they support me with CV/CL check, which were useful, they also advised me the interview strategies for different companies. I received advice through individual meetings with the Career Advisors and mock interviews that the department arranges throughout the year.
The other resources that I found useful were access to their recommended online platforms, where I learned many useful tips, such as effective salary negotiation and mock online exam that were part of some company’s recruiting processes.
IE Alumni were also cooperative. I did many Skype chats with them to learn about the companies they work for and the possible tasks I would be responsible there. Some IE Alumni introduced me to their work colleagues when I asked for more feedback.
Q: How was the recruiting process: stages, tests, interviews, etc.?
- CV screening
- Phone interview with HR recruiting manager (30 min.)
- Informal phone call with the finance director to know about the finance jobs in Eli Lilly Japan
- Face to face interview with executive members (the HR head and the CEO of Eli Lilly Japan, 30 min. each); these interviews were in Boston: Eli Lilly Japan joins Boston Career Forum where many companies based in Japan recruit Japanese international students
- Final Skype interview with the CFO of Eli Lilly Japan (45 min.)
"Before you start writing CV/CL and applying, you must analyze yourself. "
Q: Would you want to share any tips or advice with student interested in applying to Financial positions?
A: Know about yourself. Before you start writing CV/CL and then applying, you must analyze yourself. Based on my experience, you can be hired if you succeed to build the following logic and explain it in CV/CL and interview:
I am this kind of person. (based on your experiences, describing your characteristics, strength, and weakness both in private & professional scenes)
Because I am this kind of person (as mentioned in no.1), I want to do this type of work. (describing the nature of your target positions/industries and why you are potentially good at doing that kind of job)
The position I am applying to is the best way to achieve no.2. (describing why the position is the best way for you)
In my opinion, when you have a meeting with a Career Advisor, you must build this logic in advance, otherwise s/he never understands your needs.
When you write your CV, the lines you write to explain your profiles and the jobs you did before must reflect the part of “I am this kind of person”. Use the most appropriate power verbs that explain well your professional skills, characteristics, and strengths, which are transferable to the position you are applying.
You need to explain briefly the above 3 step logic in your CL. Although the detail of the first part of “I am this kind of person” can be explained in your CV, you also should mention this part briefly to explain the rest parts of the whole logic. In addition, stating in CL the concrete names of recruiters or alumni who you talked to know about position also helps to get attention of recruiters when they do CV/CL screening.
Recruiting interviews are the opportunity where you explain the logic, mainly by explaining about your professional (sometimes personal) experiences that support the logic. In case you cannot tell about the experiences effectively, your interviewer will never be convinced about the logic. Therefore, think the best way to explain about your experience with STAR framework (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) and practice orally in mock interviews that Talent and Career arranges or in Skype chats with IE Alumni who work for your dream company.
Again, know yourself. The most important part of the logic is no.1 “I am this kind of person”. If you cannot explain this part correctly, the following parts of no.2 and 3 cannot sound convincing. Go back to your experience and then ask yourself what STAR was there, what issues you had, how you felt when you encountered issues, why you decided to choose a certain way to tackle the issues, how others reacted to you, and what you learned. This process is the most critical for your job hunting!
About Lilly's MBA Opportunities
Lilly’s MBA opportunities are designed to transform MBA graduates into future leaders. In addition to taking on challenging role assignments within a given function, MBAs have the distinct advantage of joining the Lilly Leadership Development Program, allowing for professional development, social opportunities, overseas assignments, and access to senior leaders.