EF's Support of Studying Abroad is my true calling. The power comes from the sense of vocation, "I want to support people's growth" (2/2)
Today's guest is Shoko Hasuo, International Education Executive Manager at EF Education First Japan (hereinafter called "EF"). EF is an international education company that specializes in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange. The company has been operating a standard English test called EFSET which is internationally recognized by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) .
Shoko Hasuo has led sales planning, human resources, and new businesses in the areas other than education. We interviewed her about why she joined EF in February 2019, what is the best part of her job and what the essential role of that career is.
――Is there anything that you think is unique at EF?
First of all, the way of thinking in EF. For example, EF supports sports teams and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but we do not see that as part of our marketing. Generally speaking, in the area of sports business, it is necessary to consider the return on investment in these kinds of decisions to continue their business.
Sports business itself is very interesting, and it is true that with the Olympic and Paralympic effect, the number of people who gets involved in the sports business is increasing. However, the fact that EF decided to support certain sports simply because their basic principles to connect people and open the world through sports and EF's mission are the same, that was quite a surprise for me. It showed that EF was a place which can make big decisions truly based on the mission "Opening the world through Education" which I totally agree with.
And another one is that I realized the importance of "Learning experience through Learning a Language". I used to live in Nigeria and the Netherlands in my early childhood. Since then I have visited other countries too, and so my experience of learning English has broadened my horizons and my network, which has helped me in developing my career as well. That is why I felt that I have the strength of being able to talk with confidence about how studying abroad or learning something overseas would be beneficial to life.
EF is a global company and communication with school staff is basically in English. Not only my empathy with EF's mission, but also the fact that operations are running on a global basis everyday persuaded me to change my job.
――What makes you satisfied while working at EF?
The most worthwhile and fulfilled moment of my job is the moment to see people’s "life change". We often receive thank you emails from people who returned from their learning trip, and there is a culture of sharing their happiness and promoting their pleasure among the entire team in EF.
I personally feel that I want more and more people to look and feel outside of Japan. So they can see Japan from a different perspective, then realize how amazing and beautiful Japan is, and that can allow them to expand their life options. If there are more people who have changed their lives positively as a result of studying abroad, that is most rewarding being a counselor.
――What is "challenging" at EF?
In this job it is required to keep thinking about "How does studying abroad fit with this person?". So I have to ask everyone who considers going abroad several questions about their life situation and career goals. We are very close to our customers but at the same time, we must achieve our targets as salesperson. Maintaining a balance between those two can be challenging, but I can also say that it is very rewarding.
In the education business you need at least seven or eight years to see specific results, so it is necessary to have a mid to long-term business perspective. As it takes time for results to come, it is very important to be able to continue the business. EF is expanding oversea bases and is still continuing to grow globally. I believe that proves that our customers are satisfied with our support and will lead to continuity of our study programs which is crucial in the education market.
Individual customer satisfaction, company performance, and employee motivation. All of those must be exquisitely balanced at all time. As the direction of EF and my way of seeing things are standing really close, I feel that I am blessed without doubt about it.
――It is said that EF's employees have a strong unity. What do you think about that?
I feel that the culture of "Let's cherish learning" and "Let's increase and share positive news!" is spreading in our daily relationships. The other day, an interesting plan was made, "Let's create videos to support each other!"
The good thing about EF is that each and every worker can take on their own responsibility and be able to make any suggestions, regardless of their age or position. It is a very fulfilling work environment for people who like entrepreneurial spirit and enjoy taking action to help others, such as customers or team members.
――What do you want to achieve through EF in the future?
EF offers an 'Executive Courses' for mid and senior level business people in Cambridge, Boston and Hong Kong. One of my missions is to raise awareness of this course within Japan but I feel it's more than just a job for me. I feel confident in how great this course is, so I would like to increase its presence. First of all, not simply aiming to achieve my sales goals, but I would like to focus on creating and designing a system that can reach people who potentially need it.
We have started various new measures, to increase the contact points with people who are willing to learn English for a career change. Another one is that we are looking for the best ways to work together with our team members and associated companies all over the world. We believe that would contribute to the growth of EF as a whole.
Up to this point I have experienced "zero to one", launching of various new business from scratch. Using that experience, I would like to continue to search for the best solution for EF's mission.
Japan Interviewer Association certified interviewer/writer. Beyond creating original content for Wahl+Case, such as this piece, she interviews executives or authors for Flier, Inc.
She is currently working on her life’s-work, “A Career Interview Service”, interviewing people who are leading interesting lifestyles. She also has a blog for Education and Career Interviews.