Technology Development

The excitment of
being part of innovation!
Every day is full of new possibilities

Assistant Manager, Powertrain Bearing Technology Department,
Automotive Technology Development Center

A desire to be involved in manufacturing led to NSK

My decision to move to NSK began when I spotted a job advertisement that described "a position involving both analysis and experimentation," which sparked my interest. At the time, I was working for a numerical simulation software company, providing technical support and commissioned analysis. At the electronics company I worked for before that, I was in charge of organizing and analyzing data related to the development of energy management systems. In both cases, numerical analysis was the main focus of my job. Although the work itself was becoming more interesting, I was concerned about the lack of opportunities to come into contact with products firsthand and conduct analyses and experiments. In order to evolve and grow in a personal capacity, I wanted a career where I could work with actual products and reflect the results of my analysis in manufacturing. It was around this time that I discovered the job opening at NSK.

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A career in manufacturing that
shifts between experimentation and analysis

Since joining NSK, I've been working in a department that designs the bearings used in automobile transmissions. My job is to perform analysis in support of the design process. I conduct analyses when defects are found during experiments in the development phase and during preliminary studies before developing new products. Just as I had hoped, I get to be involved in the manufacturing process by participating in experiments and considering how to reproduce the experiments through analysis. Although it's a great feeling when the experimental and analytical results match perfectly, in reality, we often wind up scratching our heads and asking each other "why don't the results match?!" (laughs). When things don't go quite as planned, I discuss the issue not only with members of my own department, but also with members of other divisions, such as R&D. At NSK, collegues from different departments are always willing to take the time to discuss a problem, and everyone is very accommodating and thoughtful in their responses. I really appreciate this cooperation, and there are so many times that this has led to a breakthrough.

I also focus on generalizing and standardizing our analyses and their results. Although current analyses require a dedicated specialist, it would be ideal if anyone could perform an analysis easily. I'm therefore studying the possibility of automating the analysis process so that it can performed with the push of a button. I am also working to gradually generalize analysis data for more widespread use. Analysis tends to be a matter of "once the results are in, the job is over," and the amount of data involved is so great that it's difficult to utilize for anyone other than the parties involved. However, since we've gone to the trouble of analyzing the results, I'd like to properly document them and extract findings and data that can be shared across the organization. This would allow a greater number of people to benefit from our work.

A promotion and support from
colleagues helped me see things from a higher vantage point

In the fall of 2021, I recieved a promotion, and in the spring of 2022, an Analysis Team was formed within our department where I am responsible for managing one subordinate. This was my first experience being promoted to a managerial role, and to be honest, I was a bit apprehensive because I had only been working at the company a short time. However, NSK provides training for newly-promoted employees, and they explain to you exactly what the job entails and the responsibilities of the position you have been assigned to. In addition, there are many experienced members in my department who serve as role models, so I'm adapting to my new position with their support. Having said this, managing my own projects while also supporting my team member to ensure that the Analysis Team delivers results is quite a challenge. Although I still have trouble striking the right balance at times, I'm working at it without changing my motto of having fun at work.

The promotion has given me more discretion over personnel, assets, and budget, and it's exciting to see how my views are accounted for in decisions that impact the future of the department and its operations. Previously, I only had to consider the immediate future, but now, I'm mindful about needs five or ten years ahead. Overall, I'm very happy with the experience and career development I'm getting at NSK.

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Strong policies and career support for women

In my current department, 10% of the staff are women. Although men are in the majority, there is absolutely no distinction on the basis of gender regarding the way work is assigned. In addition, many women, myself included, hold supervisory positions, and I truly feel that NSK is a company that treats men and women equally. As part of efforts to promote a culture of equality, the company holds seminars featuring women from both inside and outside of the company who have developed successful careers, as well as training sessions, where women can network with others in a similar position. There are many women who have taken maternity or childcare leave before returning to work or who are in management positions, and it's empowering to talk with them. I'm grateful that the company is creating an environment where women are encouraged to pursue an active career path.

Five years have now passed since I joined NSK. In the future, as part of our “front-loading” efforts, I want to make sure that we can hit the ground running with analysis so that manufacturing can move forward smoothly without the need to make numerous prototypes. In addition, through working in my current department, I've started to think I'd like to try my hand at design. I also want to help create environmentally-friendly products that emit minimal CO2. I'll keep working to make this next step happen!

Message to Prospective Employees

When changing jobs, you may be concerned about whether you will be able to use your skills to make an immediate impact. However, NSK has an in-house training institute that teaches the company's history and technology, and your department will also give you thorough on-the-job training. In addition, opportunities for career advancement are open to all—for example, I was promoted after joining the company as a mid-career hire, and my gender was not a factor. In addition, if you explain that you want a certain kind of analysis tool or to conduct a certain type of experiment, the workplace culture is such that people will encourage you to "Go ahead and try it!” NSK is a very open-minded and accommodating company in this regard. In many cases, I have the freedom to proceed with projects as I see fit, and the support for work-from-home arrangements where required is also nice. The company also has a range of systems to provide a flexible and accommodating work environment, such as childcare leave for both men and women, as well as family care leave. Combined, all of these things make NSK a great place to work!

Note: Department names and job titles reflect those at the time of the interview.

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