Name: Hiromi Imayama
Country of Origin: Japan
Year of Graduation: 2016
Current Workplace/Position: GroupM Japan / Senior Digital Specialist
Activities at APU: TSS (Technical Support Staff), RA (Resident Assistant), Switch
Hiromi Imayama is an APU alumna from the class of 2016, currently working as a digital advertising specialist at GroupM Japan, an advertising agency in the WPP Group. Her work mainly entails coordinating with international headquarters and proposing digital advertising to clients to ensure the success of marketing and advertising initiatives in Japan, mainly for foreign companies. In this interview, Ms Imayama shares with us a glimpse of her time at APU and more on her career as an advertising agent in Tokyo.
【During your time at APU, what achievements (Academic/Extracurricular Activities) are you the proudest of?】
There were a lot of activities to get involved in at APU, but I still consider my RA experience to be the one that I am proudest of. I worked as an RA for three semesters. During that time, we did a lot of events including the ‘World Festival’ and the Japanese New Year Event. Although it was quite difficult for me to communicate in English with the other RAs and students, it was a great experience to share ideas and concerns with people of different backgrounds. It was through this experience that I realized that the events and projects I was involved in were highly motivating for me.
【How was your experience being a part of TSS?】
I joined TSS in just the second semester after it was launched. It was a small team but we were able to support several multicultural weeks including the Taiwanese Cultural Week, African Week, and Nepal
Week. I got to watch a wide variety of shows and got to work with many international students. I also got the opportunity to communicate with my seniors, juniors and students from other departments while working with TSS.
【What part of APU did you enjoy the most?】
For me, the vibrant city of Beppu is what I enjoyed the most. The city is filled with hot springs and really nice people. During my university days, I used to go to the hot springs to relax every time I felt stressed out. Also, the location of the APU campus on top of a mountain was very pleasant. We could see the entire city of Beppu from up there. I enjoyed sitting at the ‘Wave’ with my friends, talking, drinking coffee, eating kebabs, and relishing the beautiful view.
【Can you tell us about your failure while at APU?】
In the middle of my university years, I had a little bit of a bad time and became reluctant to communicate with people. Now, many years later, I have digested it, but I think that it was the time when I was farthest from being myself. It was simply a waste of time when I could have
played and studied more if I had dealt with it well. To cope with this, I used to visit the counselling room at APU where I could freely share my feelings. Even though this was helpful to some extent, it was still quite difficult for me to organize my thoughts at that point in time.
【Is there anything you learned at APU that you still apply to this date?】
What I found to be the most shocking and important lesson was the obvious but unnoticed fact that people come from all kinds of backgrounds. I first became aware of this when I took a class in Cultural Anthropology, which was one of my favourite classes at APU. While studying this, I got to read a lot of different case studies about various cultures and communities, which helped me realize that it is natural not to understand that the friend in front of you, who is from a different culture, has a different background as well. That is why, in conversations with friends and project members, I have started to ask questions like: “Why do you think that?”, “Why do you feel that way?”, and spend more time understanding their background. Now I work with people who have had experiences in a different way than I did at APU. I think I now work in a way that focuses on consensus building and mutual understanding.
【When and why did you decide to join the Marketing industry?】
I decided to join the Marketing industry early in my sixth semester. I love arts and have always wanted to pursue a career that is linked with it. Marketing, for that matter, perfectly fits this criterion. I remember in university when I could not sleep, I used to google for the best advertisements and commercials in different countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and China to learn more from it. Furthermore, I have followed the Cannes Lions event, the most prestigious global event for those working in creative communications, advertising, and related fields, for as long as I can remember.
【Could you briefly share about your job hunting experience? What resources did you use and what challenges you had to overcome?】
Some students get their interviews and job offers quite easily. But for me, it was quite a struggle. This was mainly because I needed to know myself to be able to present myself effectively during job interviews, but at that point, I was still unsure about my personal strengths and characteristics. I also lacked self-confidence. But as soon as I realized that everybody has their unique virtues that can be discovered easily if you make an effort to learn more about yourself, I got back on track. I got my first job as an advertising agent through job-hunting websites like Mynabi and Rikunabi. I worked there for three years and then with referrals I was able to secure my current job.
【After having joined the advertising industry, do you think your expectations have been met?】
I do think that the advertising industry is quite different from what I expected it to be as a student. Previously, I believed that it would mostly be related to arts and creativity. But after joining it, I realized that a lot of mathematics is also required in this field. Initially, I really found it difficult to use the excel functions and do calculations. This included calculations regarding the number of repeat customers and network traffic. Furthermore, having to explain the supporting details regarding these numbers to the clients was excruciating as well. But all in all, I would say that I am 80% satisfied with my job.
【Can you share a little bit about your near future plan?】
I know both the fun and complexity of my current job and I want to develop my skills further. But I am also looking for more opportunities to challenge myself. During the pandemic, I have more time to think than before. When I was at university, I went to music live shows with my friends and worked as a sound crew for many events. Now I have a lot of thoughts about the lack of such events in this pandemic situation. So, I thought I would try to gather courage and do something along those lines. After all, being ambitious and conscious is not a bad thing. I would also like to continue pursuing my hobbies of drawing and painting. I think it would be much more fun to challenge myself in these things. On a smaller scale, I am studying for a qualification, which I have currently paused.
【Do you have a message for current students?】
Not surprisingly, everyone has a different experience. Cherish them, and feel free to choose the width, the type, or the depth of these experiences so that you can increase the number of tags you have. Also, remember to take some time to relax every now and then, whether it is in the bath, listening to music on your headphones, or eating something delicious.