Transcending disability to challenge a world of sound
Mr. Kenichi Osawa
Infotainment Systems Business Division
Mr. Osawa, who is deaf, sent us his answers to the question sheet in advance of the interview, and provided his own material. In addition, the cover page he sent us read "Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to interview me." It was as if everything about Mr. Osawa's being was reflected in those words. Mr. Osawa's great strength lies in his warm personality and his enthusiasm to persevere and never give up, believing that there is always an answer. He has a strong unifying force that naturally draws in those around him, as well as an outstanding presence.
The importance of going forward without fear of failure
Mr. Osawa currently works in a department that analyzes and repairs defective products sent from dealers, specializing in car navigation systems, and he was involved in the introduction of an automatic inspection system for defective parts.
I wanted to see if I could somehow make my own workplace more efficient, so I adapted a program that was originally used in a mass production process at a factory to my own work process and worked to automate it. In order to achieve this, I studied each software on my own, and with help from the production engineering department, I was able to introduce the program into the process at my workplace.
You really have a wonderful attitude of never giving up and fearlessly taking on new challenges.
The founder of Panasonic, Konosuke Matsushita, once said, "Try to think, try to devise, and try to do. If you fail, just try again." I believe that there is always an answer and I will always carry things through to the end. That is my motto. The automated inspection system program took a total of six months to complete. Once you complete a project, the sense of accomplishment you feel will become motivation.
You wrote that the reason you chose Panasonic was to challenge yourself in a world of sound because being deaf, you had always lived in a soundless world.
Yes. I always loved the Panasonic brand and had a strong desire to work here, so when I took the one-week on-the-job training, I tried my best to show that I could do the job even though I am hearing impaired. When I hold the speaker of a product against my stomach, I can detect the slightest difference in vibrations or lack thereof. I take great pride in this.
A reliable jack-of-all-trades
Could you tell us what "work" means to you?
It is to be of service to society by working together with those around us. As a jack-of-all-trades in my department, I am in charge of responding promptly to jig failures, errors in automated inspection systems, inquiries from subcontractors, and other issues to minimize problems in order to be of service to our customers.
You truly are a reliable jack-of-all-trades. I wonder, were there times when your disability caused you difficulties or worries?
There were many setbacks and negative experiences when I was younger. In the days when the IT environment was not as well developed as it is today, it was not always easy to overcome the challenges. I often did not clearly understand what the details of the business were because there was a lot of talking, and I never went to meetings. But today I rarely have any problems or worries because of it.
Communication tools are rapidly evolving, aren't they?
I can communicate well using chat rooms, and I can handle meetings with a transcription tool, even if the language is a little odd. I really enjoy the morning meetings because they are video recorded and subtitled.
Even still, when you run into obstacles, how do you overcome them?
If I try something and it doesn't work, I try to think of a better way to do it. It is very important to constantly reflect with a critical eye on whether or not this is the right approach, and to never stop striving to improve.
Work and climbing mountains: the view at the top is so beautiful
What do you think of Panasonic Automotive Systems' commitment to diversity?
I don't think trying to forcibly mix deaf culture with hearing culture will work. It is not easy for a deaf person to work in the same way as a hearing person and vice versa. And this is not only true for deaf people and hearing people, but even between people with hearing impairments, there are many different ways of working, each person is unique. What is important is not so much to accept each other's diversity as it is to work hard and deliver results while harnessing our individual personalities and strengths. If you do this, you will naturally develop a circle of people around you, who will provide you with the help you need when you need it.
It seems like coddling yourself never even crossed your mind. How did you get the mindset of always giving your all, never cutting corners in anything you do?
No, I never coddle myself. But there are times when I sigh. Actually, I consider myself an emotionally fragile person. In order to practice mindfulness and to cleanse my mind, I have started mountain climbing as a hobby.I also teach hiking and climbing in the summer and snow climbing, backcountry and snowboarding in the winter. There is a similarity between the sense of accomplishment that comes from work and the sense of accomplishment that comes from climbing mountains. In both cases, the view at the top is very beautiful.
You learned your never-give-up attitude from the mountains. Looking ahead to the future, what kind of view do you want to see?
I would like to transfer my skills to a wider range of employees around me, while further expanding my horizons beyond my field of work. Since products will obviously become more sophisticated and complex in the future, I would also like to address cyber security and improve production and operational efficiency through full automation. I want to keep trying new things.