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Michael Cheong

Director, North Asia Portfolio Operations and Technology Partnerships
Here Technologies

Date of birth: Jan. 23, 1971

Hometown: Singapore

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 2 (as of December 2019)

Michael Cheong
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

The first time I visited Japan was during a business trip in early 2000. Even today, I am still deeply impressed by the quality of their service levels, and how meticulous the Japanese take pride in every task they undertake.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

I believe in doing what is right for the business and helping others to be successful. I believe in “Seek to understand, then to be understood;” “Apply what we know, acquire what we don’t;” and never make the same mistakes twice. Always confront issues (while respecting the cultural difference, of course), communicate effectively and solve challenges collectively. Always be resilient, especially living in a high context culture and an environment with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

I always enjoy the opportunity to help individuals find their niche and reach their full potential, or even help unleash their potential. My most rewarding achievement is watching individuals and teams I lead working collectively and collaboratively to solve a business issue. Nothing is more satisfying to see them soar as leaders, making a positive impact on our business and the world we live in and enjoys doing it.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

Professionally, I hope to expand our business partnership footprint in Japan to broaden our portfolio services to benefit our customers and consumers, both locally and globally, and be an effective bridge between the East and the West. Personally, I am striving to pick up the language with a deeper appreciation of the Japanese culture and of course lastly, spend time traveling with my family to parts of this beautiful country.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

We have been blessed with the opportunity to live, work and manage teams in high-context countries for about 20 years. My advice for anyone to enjoy living and working overseas, especially in Japan, is to practice the “three C’s” — don’t compare, don’t complain and don’t criticize. Always communicate, collaborate and create long-term relationships with Japanese while staying humble, hungry and hardworking. Learn to respect, embrace and adapt to the local nuances. Look past the difficulties that arose from cultural gaps and look at the strengths that these differences can bring to the team and business. Be comfortable with aimai (ambiguity), and life in Japan will be much less stressful and more enjoyable and fruitful.

Last updated: Dec 16, 2019