Choose to Challenge: Voices from Panasonic

“When confronting bias, it’s important to try to understand where the other person is coming from.”
– Hatsumi Ura

In 2005, I became the first female salesperson in the corporate sales department, where I would eventually spend eight years of my career. It was difficult to be a female salesperson in a male-society, but I told myself: “I’m definitely going to achieve my sales targets and my plan and then let the results speak for themselves!”

Photo: Hatsumi Ura

Hatsumi Ura, Founder CEO of MITSUBACHI PRODUCTS Inc. Panasonic Corporation Appliances Company (on hiatus)

I was in charge of kitchen appliances and it was clear to me that training female salesfloor staff at our customers was going to be crucial to the success of our business, so I collaborated with headquarters and after only three year in the department became the person in charge of training these employees.

In the process of conducting product training, role play training and sales floor development training, I was able to increase sales and share what I learned with my colleagues – an outcome that I think contributed to establishing the position of female salespeople in the department. Today, I’m no longer involved in sales, but rumor has it that some customers continue to rely on “Ura-isms” – and that’s nice to hear.

Working in sales helped me launch my own business and I think sales is a good place to gain experience in generating numbers, which helps to visualize your role in other related departments and organizations.

When confronting bias, it’s important to sincerely communicate how you feel. But it’s also important to try to understand where the other person is coming from, and I do this by listening to their opinion and then putting what they say into context based on their background. I’ve found that this helps to calm my anger and allows me to read the situation differently.

There is a perception that women are not good at thinking logically. Instead of trying to overcome that image by doing everything yourself, my advice is to invest your energy into developing your strengths.

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