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Meet Our Talent

Michael S. Cassidy


“It is important to keep your life balanced during your time off. It's fun and good to get out and do things, but you are not in Japan for a week, so you do not need to run around like a headless chook as my parents would say.”

What was the most difficult aspect of adjusting to work in Japan?

I did not have a phone for the first few months and Osaka is a big city. As a result it took a quite a few weekends of being lost before I was able to find things quickly. However, I guess exploration is part of the fun of a new city and a new country. I'm sure it's not possible to ever see all of Osaka and it's certainly not possible to visit all the bars a new one seems to open every 20 minutes.

How was Japan in reality to what you had imagined before you arrived?

Japan is very clean and the Japanese seem to take a lot of care that things are well maintained but that doesn't mean everything is new but it does mean things are clean and functional.

I expected 24 hour public transport to be normal, however, the reality is the public transport options here (most typically trains) do not run past midnight but they are very efficient and timely. I also expected to be awfully squashed in the public transport. However, I've been as squashed in trains in peak hour as much here as back in Melbourne.

I had the impression that Japan was very high tech and futuristic particularly given all their famous companies in that area. Naturally, I expected credit cards to be accepted everywhere like in Australia However, cash really is king in Japan, major department stores will accept them but for bars, restaurants, and most small to mid-size shops you are usually limited to cash. However, you could spend a life time trying out all the different ways you can pay for and order goods and services through convenience stores.

What has been your fondest experience in Japan?

In Osaka, I enjoyed taking my parents to a cat cafe where you buy drinks and sit in an enclosed area with approximately 20 cats who you pat or avoid. After a weekend of traveling it was a fun counter point to the rural part of Japan we had just visited.

Near Osaka, I have really enjoyed Kobe which is about 30 minutes from Osaka, lots to see and do. Apart from the world famous Kobe beef the city is quite different to Osaka and is a nice close place to see a different part of Japan.

Further from Osaka, I really enjoyed visiting Tokyo and plan to visit again soon. On my last visit I stumbled upon a really bizarre and very quirky Japanese art exhibit, saw the interesting people and anime/video game oriented businesses in Akihabara and relaxed in the hotel bar from the movie Lost in Translation which has amazing views and food with friends. I also spent 2 hours lining up for an infamous pancake restaurant, it may not have been worth the wait, but long lines are often a part of the Japanese experience.

How would you describe your co-workers during your initial time at work?

Helpful. There is pretty tight bond with the other foreign co-workers because everyone is in or was in a similar boat. As new people start year round there are always co-workers who are having the same problem or had it and can help out. Of course you work with plenty of Japanese colleagues as well and they are very understanding and supportive.

What work skills and habits have you learned or improved?

Communication. Everyone speaks English in the Office but the skill level can vary. While I was in Melbourne most people considered me to have a mild Australian accent. However, in Japan my Japanese co-workers and even my co-workers from other English speaking countries often have difficulty understanding my accent. Accordingly, I have had to learn to speak more neutrally and gauge when people are having difficulty understanding me or something I said. Sometimes I fail and slip back to rapid-fire Australianese.

What is the most important thing that working at the Firm has taught you about yourself?

Working for the firm has taught me more about my own priorities outside of work. Working a full time job in Japan does not afford you the same amount of free time I had been accustomed to in Australia. So it forced me to develop a greater sense of what I wanted to do in my spare time. As a result I watch less significantly less TV but I also read more regularly than I used to. Some things don't change; I probably play almost as many video games as I did in Australia. Of course I still go out and socialize every week and there are always friends or co-workers off to see some new part of Japan but I am now better at balancing these various leisure time pursuits.

What are the challenging or difficult aspects of your work?

There is always more to learn about the Firm's clients and what they do. Accordingly it is challenging constantly being inundated with new information that you have to quickly process and use. This is also one of the great benefits about working at the firm, there is such a wide variety of work for many different clients and types of clients it really helps keep work interesting.

What advice would you give to entry level recruits?

It is important to keep your life balanced during your time off. Not everyone enjoys seeing shrines but there is an amazing variety of things to do in Japan and people to meet. Make sure you do some fun things and some relaxing things while you are here and everything will be easier and more fun. Typically, I've seen co-workers struggle when they spend too much time traveling or too much time at home. It's fun and good to get out and do things, but you are not in Japan for a week, so you do not need to run around like a headless chook as my parents would say.

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