I came to The Netherlands in September 2020 and only got a few weeks in the office before lockdown. Moving from Japan was already challenging, because I had to learn a new way of working, and get used to a completely different culture. However, this situation made the transition especially difficult.

After about six months, I was invited to participate in a high-performance training course, along with ten of my colleagues from the Supply Business Unit leadership team. There was an initial online meeting, but then we were able to meet face to face to complete the course.

In one session, I was seated in the middle of the group and everyone was in a circle around me. I was then asked to talk openly about my business and private life. At first, it was strange, because we don’t do this sort of thing in Japan! Some feedback I received about my work style was critical.

Nevertheless, I talked with some vulnerability about how I felt. I even mentioned that my father had been diagnosed with a serious illness shortly after my arrival. The feedback from my colleagues on my sharing something of my personal life was warm, empathic, and supportive. They really understood my situation and offered support.

It was such a special experience, and from that moment I truly felt part of the team. One of our core values is “team play” and that shone through as we completed the course. Three years on, my family are settled over here, and I’m loving both life and work.

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