Building Partnerships: The kyu Maru Program, Part 1

Building Partnerships: The kyu Maru Program

kyu is always looking to pioneer new ways of creative collaboration, and to make a positive impact in doing so. The key component of this is, of course, the people involved.

With this in mind kyu and parent company Hakuhodo DY Holdings (HDY) developed “kyu Maru,” an exchange program where employees from Tokyo, will work in one of the North American offices of a kyu member company this summer. As part of the first cohort, Masako will be working in Sid Lee’s Toronto office, and Peihwa will be working in SYPartners’ New York office.

“Bringing in people with a variety of life and professional experiences to infuse the culture of a company remains a key goal of any great exchange program,” commented Deborah Hankin, VP of Talent at SYPartners who also took a lead in developing the program. “We hope to extend that benefit within kyu and to make it even more rich by ensuring a strong mix of both men and women coming from Japan with varying levels of experience and with all kinds of skills.”

In the following interview, learn more about Masako and Peihwa in the first few weeks of the program as they discuss their expectations and what they look forward to most while spending time in their new cities and offices.

Tell us about your background and what you do at HDY.

Masako (SL) – I joined Hakuhodo [an HDY division] in 2006 and started my career as a strategist. In 2009, I moved to the creative section and became a copywriter. I create concepts, copies, and ideas not only for mass media, but also for digital medium and integrate it. I am challenged to create new type of works beyond media, which are driven by a strong concept.

Peihwa (SYP) – At HDY, my mission is to ensure that communication is as open, timely, and productive as possible between kyu and different bodies of HDY, for the purpose of moving kyu’s agenda forward. This includes reporting kyu companies’ financial results to the finance and accounting teams; preparing relevant information pertaining to kyu’s new investments; as well as connecting HDY people and account teams to kyu companies for potential collaboration projects. My experience pre-HDY is in media/diplomacy.

After you were selected as a candidate for the talent exchange, what made you interested in the company that you are now with?

Masako (SL) – I was interested in how it would be to work with a multidisciplinary team and working with different professionals like architects, journalists, 3D artists, etc., which are all very present at Sid Lee. I was also interested in how they create ideas in a human based concept, and integrate it beyond media with cool design. Overall, Sid Lee’s culture and spirit interested me.

Peihwa (SYP) – I was interested in the place and role of psychology in the work of SYP.

What are your expectations of the program?

Masako (SL) – I want to learn about the process of creating new ideas, and how the teams make the idea come true to life. Also, I am eager to see the way the teams evolve the ideas into touching, exciting creative ideas with originality.

Peihwa (SYP) – I hope my experience at SYP will help me have the right mindset and tools for envisioning kyu’s future and building it in concrete ways. I also look forward to meeting, talking and spending time with SYPeas!

What has surprised you about working at Sid Lee/SYPartners so far?

Masako (SL) – Firstly, I’m surprised by how friendly people are! Everyone is very motivated and is passionate about what they are doing. Great culture is here in the office. Also, the work environment is wonderful with the convenient IT system, efficient work flow, and fun meetings.

Peihwa (SYP) – I’m surprised by the quality and speed of the work delivered by a strategist/designer duo, as well as the creative multi-layered initiatives in place to encourage and inspire people to be their best selves.

Sights in Toronto and New York.

Since you’ve started, what are the challenges, if any, that you are facing so far?

Masako (SL) – The market and culture are different from Japan, so I am figuring out how things work here. Walking in the streets, eating, going to the supermarket, talking with people, and watching TV programs all help me understand the culture and the market better. Canada is such a multi-cultural country with so many different cultures and races involved, which is very different from Japan. Of course, it is challenging to use English, my second language, as a creative, but I am trying my best and enjoying it so far.

Peihwa (SYP) – One challenge is software/program illiteracy. The default programs used here at SYP are new to me and I have a lot to catch up on that front. Understanding cultural references and keeping up with the fast-paced discussions can also be challenging.

What are you most excited to do while living in Toronto/New York?

Masako (SL) – I want to get to know people, and learn about their perspectives, life, culture, and beliefs- just to know about the city itself. Toronto is a friendly, multi-cultural city and I am enjoying it a lot so far. I am living in the city, so hopefully I can enjoy the great nature of Canada too.

Peihwa (SYP) – I’m most excited to discover the beaches nearby

We will catch up with Peihwa and Masako at the conclusion of their program, and hear more about their work and experiences in their new offices and cities as they prepare to return to Tokyo.