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【Inside beBit ~Focus~】6 Years Working Abroad, and the Reality of Life in Shanghai - Sakamaki-san

Inside beBit - A project in which we ask questions about a beBit member's work and personal life. Inside beBit ~Focus~ takes it a bit further and delves deeper into the lives of people who are working on designing their own fulfilling experiences.

For this installment, we had Sakamaki-san from UXD who was stationed in Shanghai for many years answer our questions.

日本語記事はこちら

Sakamaki-san from UX Design

【Sakamaki-san’s Profile】
Department・Position:UX Design, Manager
Year Joined:2007

1.Please tell us about your past career
I joined beBit as a new grad in 2007.
Since then, I was involved in many projects such as web improvement, establishing business impact, NPS, and service design, but I have always been working in the field related to UXD consulting.
I worked in Shanghai from July 2016 to December 2022 and returned to Japan in January 2023.

2.What led you to move to Shanghai?
It’s difficult to say how it all came about, but…
One day I was asked about how I feel about working in Shanghai, to which I answered “sounds interesting.” About 1 month later, it was decided that I would go. (I think that there were rumors back then that someone would be going to Shanghai.)
At the time, the Shanghai office needed a project manager to make sales.
I really did feel that it would be interesting, so I agreed and asked when I would be starting.

3.What duties were you in charge of while in Shanghai?
I was mainly involved in client facing projects.
These projects included consulting for Japanese companies based in Shanghai, and when part of a project in Japan included research in China or in the Hong Kong area, I was in charge of the research for those projects.

4.Tell us about the tough parts, and the great parts about being in Shanghai
【Work】
■Good things
While it was on a project to project basis, I’m glad I was able to be a part of a project with a Japanese BtoB manufacturer.
We started with the idea of improving their e-commerce in China, where digitalization is progressing, but using the efforts in China as a model it has become a global project. I am happy I was able to be involved in this! For about 10 months, I worked very closely with the client’s PMO team .
■The tough part
The language barrier was most likely the cause, but for the first six months, I could not provide any value. Fujii-san told me it was tough at first, and indeed, it was very tough in many ways…

【Private】
■Good things
I got to see Shanghai from 2016-2020 and meet many interesting people. I loved the atmosphere, with so many people around me chasing the Chinese dream, people trying to get rich quick, and people with various backgrounds. I loved the momentum that everyone was creating.
■The tough part
It was tough early on when I really didn’t understand the language at all. I would go shopping, and I wouldn’t even be able to ask for the price. (The locals could not understand English - not even “how much?”)
The other would be surviving the two-month lockdown in April - May 2022.

5.How did you overcome the language barrier?
I practiced matching English sounds and notations in various ways. But, the most influential way for me was being in a relationship with a Chinese girl who could speak English, but could not speak Japanese.

6.You were stationed in Shanghai during the Covid outbreak - what was the most challenging part about this?
Prior to moving back, I never left Shanghai from March 2020. Things were relatively smooth up until the lockdown in 2022. I thought that being in Japan seemed more difficult because of the state of emergency that was declared. The lockdown period, which started three years after the rest of the world, was extremely difficult. Not knowing when I would be able to get food (and other necessities) and being under “house arrest” for 60 days were both first time experiences for me.

7.Please tell us about your recommended hidden gems in Shanghai
The fake market in the basement of the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum Station was interesting, but it may have closed down after the lockdown. It felt like a hidden passage from FF (Final Fantasy).
The hidden gems in Shanghai are disappearing at a rapid pace…

8.Why did you return to Japan?
Since I would be working with the Japanese team in 2023, it was decided that it would be more beneficial for me to return and be physically present in Japan.

9.Please tell us about your future goals
This is unrelated to Shanghai, but… I enjoy receiving new stimulation, so I hope to be involved in AI and, in the future, XR.
I also love being in the field, so I hope to continue being involved in work that connects strategic aspects and the actual realization of the projects as well.


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