In 2019, Mr. Muzafar returned to his home country which is Malaysia. Currently, he is responsible for quality planning at Panasonic AP Air Conditioner Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (PAPAMY), a manufacturing base that exports products to more than 120 countries worldwide. He decided to leave Panasonic headquarters, where he had worked for about 17 years, and return home for the education of his young children and to realize a certain personal desire of his.
“I learned many things in Japan and at Panasonic. Those things have their roots in Japan's unique culture and code of conduct, which is different from that of Malaysia, where I was born and raised, Australia, where I first studied abroad, or any of the other countries in the world I visited after joining Panasonic. For example, the attitude of working without being constrained by set times and understanding things deeply; the consideration that goes into everything from product design to manufacturing, with the idea that the goal of one's work is the satisfaction of your end-users; and the norm of always adhering to every single thing that has been decided. For those born and raised outside of Japan, those things are suffocating or inexplicable. But they really aligned with my personality. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be different, and the things I would say or do were outlandish to the point of annoying my father. I even thought I was a “unique person” because of that. However, when I came to Japan, I was surprised to find that in both my studies and work, there were many more “strange people” besides myself. At the same time, I thought the way Japanese people approached things really suited me.”
After graduating from university in Australia, Mr. Muzafar, wanted to further his education and was planning his next study abroad. He had two options: Germany or Japan. Both Japan and Germany held great promise as technologically advanced countries for Mr. Muzafar, who wanted to advance in the field of technology. However, his desire to do things differently from others led him to decide that Japan was the only option for him. He says that his childhood experiences were also a factor in his decision. Because Mr. Muzafar’s father worked for a Japanese company, he had experiences interacting with his father’s Japanese colleagues from an early age.
“I still remember how surprised I was when I visited a Japanese home. The house was neat and tidy, and the way they behaved within their daily life was unique. Something was different. I received a toy that the child in that house had used, but it had been treated with such care that it seemed brand new. I wondered why things were so different, but now I know why. I realized that 5S activities were thoroughly employed in that house.”
“5S activities” are activities to ensure that products and services are sorted, set in order, shined, standardized, and sustained to improve Q (quality), C (cost), and D (delivery time). Mr. Muzafar, who would later join Panasonic and worked extensively on quality-related matters, apparently felt that the standard of quality required for Japanese products are rooted in Japanese culture.
“At Panasonic, I was responsible for inspecting almost every product and played a role in maintaining quality standards for exports overseas. I would set standards, create mechanisms, and stick to those standards and mechanisms. However, even when I communicated those rules to countries and people outside Japan, that alone would not be enough to ensure that the value of Panasonic products reaches users outside of Japan. Panasonic’s value comes from Japanese culture. I can understand that culture, translate and convey it in English so that it can blend in with the cultures of people from other countries. When I wanted to give back to Panasonic, which has made me feel worthwhile, fulfilled, and allowed me to experience a “different and special way of living” through many years of service, I was convinced that spreading the high value of Panasonic was something I could do precisely because of who I am. But there is a limit to what I can do to accomplish that while being in Japan. I knew that I had to leave the country. Returning to Malaysia was also the first step of that new challenge for me.