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Life as a working woman

Sales Department Digital Communications Division
Online MR Group 2 Group Leader
Kaori Kubota

My thoughts as a group leader of the new division

I started my career as an MR when I joined Astellas in 2004. After taking maternity and childcare leave and working reduced hours, I returned as a full-time MR in 2019. I currently hold a management position as a group leader of Online MR Group 2 in the Digital Communications Division, which was newly established in April 2022. Our division is making new attempts to bring customer service online. We provide and collect highly specialized information and gather customer insights based on online meetings with doctors, which we then reflect in product strategies. My role is to maximize my team's performance and support the growth of the organization and my team members.

Since I used to visit hospitals and doctors to supply information as an MR, my initial thoughts were, “Will online meetings work?” “Do we even need it?” We started from scratch and tried all sorts of things to test the operations and practices. But once we had the operation up and running, I realized the usefulness of digital communication. Having an online option that allows communication anywhere at any time is a huge advantage for busy doctors. It also enables us to contact doctors in any location from Okinawa to Hokkaido.

On the other hand, the difficulty with online meetings is that most of our clients are doctors with whom we are meeting for the first time and haven’t established connections yet. The key to this problem is how much relevant information we can provide to the doctors in a single meeting. Improving the skills of my team members to provide doctors with all the necessary information is another important mission that I find rewarding.

Looking 10 years ahead as we continue to move forward

There are many female employees like me who have taken maternity and childcare leave and worked shorter hours at Astellas. One of the great things about Astellas is the people’s warmth. We have a corporate culture where we speak to people who are in trouble and reach out to hard-working employees regardless of gender. Besides that, Astellas offers an environment where women can work with passion and enthusiasm, allowing them to continue progressing in their careers even when they encounter major life events.

I met with each of my team members when we established our new division. One of the members told me that she was happy to have me as she had never had female seniors and managers around her before, let alone a female manager who was married with kids. I was glad to know that my presence as a leader might be able to encourage her, but at the same time, I felt that I needed to prepare myself to set a good example.

The most significant impact that had on my career development was deciding to “give up the option of quitting my job.” I consider how my family, the people around me, and I can stay physically and mentally healthy while I continue my career. Living in a male-dominated societal structure, women of my generation have difficulty abandoning the idea of “quitting jobs due to having a family.” It also took several years for me to finally make up my mind to continue working. However, just as it’s normal for women to build careers now, we can dispel the negative preconceptions by visualizing ourselves thriving in the future. I think it’s important to picture ourselves, our families, and the people around us in ten years' time when we’re determining which paths to take for our future.

I often get asked, “How do you keep going?”
When thinking about where my motivation to tackle missions comes from, I noticed that my sense of value links with Astellas Way. I strive to perform my responsibilities with a patient-focused mindset and by taking the initiative with integrity and honesty. My other motivation for work is that I want to create successors. One of the values of Astellas Way is “Openness,” and I want to contribute to that by creating an environment where women can play an active role.

Continuously taking on challenges for my future self

Astellas is always up for challenges and is continuing to make advancements. It is vital for the company to stand on the forefront of change and look into the future as it undergoes changes. I have been challenging myself to figure out and accomplish the missions that suited Astellas’ needs each time. I always think carefully about why I was given that particular role and task and make the most of my strengths to fulfill my responsibilities. I also believe that creating my own time and improving my capabilities is a necessary challenge that I need to take on for my future self.

As a group leader, my major role is to support the growth of my team members so that we can work to achieve Astellas’ goals and cultivate our group and organization. In addition, I hope to build constructive relationships by respectfully engaging with others without fearing the friction that may arise from communication.

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