Panasonic Scholarship Alumni  Message for the Future Told by People Who Have Experienced the Panasonic Scholarship

What I want Colleagues, Society, and the People of the World to know as a Certified Panasonic BBP [Basic Business Philosophy] (dendoshi) Instructor

○Mr. Wang Xiang
Nationality: Chinese (People’s Republic of China)
Current country of residence and job type: Japan, Panasonic Operational Excellence Co., Ltd.
Awarded in 2000 - > Kyoto University Graduate School (Graduate School of Engineering, Global Environment Engineering) -> In 2002, after completing a master’s degree, he joined Panasonic as its first full-time foreign-national employee. In 2009, he was in charge of training new employees as a tutor (senior instructor) -> In 2020, he joined Panasonic Operational Excellence Corporation (appointed to the Management Philosophy Training Department at the Team & Talent Development Center).

Mr. Wang Xiang made the decision to study abroad in Japan when he was in high school. He wanted to become someone capable of addressing environmental impacts and issues stemming from the economic development of his hometown, and with this in mind, he would go on to engage in research on the improvement of water quality in a lab at Kyoto University. After graduating, instead of continuing down an academic path, he joined Panasonic. This choice to tread the path of manufacturing was driven by the deep connection he felt with the philosophy of the company’s founder, Konosuke Matsushita, and a sense of potential in the company’s future activities. Mr. Wang wanted to be a bridge between China and Japan and do work that makes the world a better place. Now, 20 years later, those aspirations have remained firm in steering the course of his life, and he has shared his vision of the future, discussing his thoughts on manufacturing and human resource development, along with his ideas on the nurturing of talent that he would like to spread across the world.

Making the most of learning opportunities: The scholarship that pushed him further

Born and raised in Tianjin, China, Mr. Wang chose to study abroad at his own expense after graduating high school. According to Mr. Wang, when he was a child, his hometown was a place of abundant natural beauty. However, as roads were built, cities were developed, and progress ensued, he could clearly see the negative impacts on the natural environment, including the rivers, air, and greenery. After wondering if there was anything he could do, he did some research and discovered that Japan, too, had faced widespread pollution as a price for economic development but had worked to solve the problem through the spread of environmental conservation and technological advancements. After learning this, he decided to study engineering in Japan.

“I had other interests in Japan as well. In China at that time, Japanese dramas and music were as popular as Korean media is today. It was Japanese household appliances that allowed me to truly feel that the economy was growing and life was getting richer for us. Items that were ‘Made in Japan’ had an image of luxury but were also trusted as high-quality and durable products. Whenever the adults talked about the positive image of Japan, Panasonic and its founder, Konosuke Matsushita, would always come up. In addition to his fame as an entrepreneur, he was greatly respected as the first person to recognize the potential of the Chinese market, bringing factories and technology to China.”

Mr. Wang wanted to be useful for the future of his hometown, and to do that, he wanted to study engineering that could contribute to the resolution of environmental issues. His aspiration took a major step forward with his decision to study abroad in Japan. To make the most of this opportunity, Mr. Wang devoted himself to learning. He attended a Japanese language school, studied at Kyoto University, and immersed himself in a research study on the water quality of Lake Biwa at a university lab.

“At the time, I was so engrossed in my studies that I wasn’t really aware of it, but the learnings that would become helpful to me now weren’t limited to the classroom or the lab. I moved into a university dormitory and lived with my Japanese contemporaries, some of whom led free-spirited student lives. This made me ponder the meaning of ‘freedom.’ While it is wonderful and fun, I thought that being ‘hungry’ is also a privilege for young people. That hunger is the ‘ambition’ to seek something, and for me, it was a chance to confirm my desire to ‘make the world a better place.’ To achieve my ‘freedom,’ I needed to be independent, so I couldn’t waste this learning opportunity. And with that in mind, I devoted myself to studying.”

At his language school and at the lab, Mr. Wang also met people from various countries besides Japan, including those from the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. When he was in China, “Japan” was the only thing he had pictured in his mind, but once he took a step outside, “the world” opened up around him, and he started to feel that he was a part of it on a daily basis. Eventually, Mr. Wang decided to continue his education at Kyoto University graduate school to further his studies in this environment. The effort he put into learning paid off with some of the best grades in his department, and he was exempted from the entrance exam for graduate school. However, if he was going to engage in research while commuting to a laboratory on the shores of Lake Biwa in the neighboring prefecture of Shiga, the public scholarships that he had received before would not be enough, and he wouldn’t be able to continue his part-time job teaching Chinese.

“That’s when a colleague who was one year senior to me recommended the Panasonic Scholarship that he himself had been awarded. I was able to receive the scholarship, and that allowed me to lead a fulfilling research life during my two years in graduate school. I met people from other universities, international students, and even prominent professors from abroad who came to Japan to participate in academic conferences. I got a lot of inspiration from those encounters and was able to establish an international network that I continue to connect with now.”

From university labs to manufacturing sites: Betting on Panasonic’s potential

After completing his graduate studies, Mr. Wang chose to work at Panasonic. He mentioned that his experiences with the Panasonic Scholarship were a big factor behind his decision.

“Interacting with the other international students I met through the Panasonic Scholarship was an international experience in itself. These interactions with competitive, like-minded individuals, all of whom were highly motivated to learn and contribute to their home country and the global community, gave me the feeling that I must not fall behind. I was also impressed by the Panasonic Scholarship staff who watched over us. The people from the Panasonic-related facilities, as well as the Panasonic Museum and Hall of Science and Technology that we visited, were also very welcoming and provided us with a comprehensive education. Whenever I experienced this greatness, the words that are present in every corner of Panasonic, as said by its founder Konosuke Matsushita, ‘Make people before products,’ came to mind, and I felt as if his philosophy would permeate every fiber of my being.”

Mr. Wang found himself faced with two different future paths: the path of academics and research that he had immersed himself in at university and graduate school or the path of entering a company as a working adult. He ran through simulations of his future over and over again. Ultimately, he chose to become a part of Panasonic.

“As a junior high school student, I envisioned a future where I would tackle environmental issues. In university, I gained knowledge in chemistry. At that point, I didn’t see any direct overlap between these elements and Panasonic’s corporate activities. However, I saw great potential in the company, stemming from the philosophy of its founder, the people of Panasonic I met, and most of all, the fact that Panasonic provided us Asian students with the opportunity to become global talents. I believed that living in Japan as a working adult would connect me to the future I envisioned, one where I act as a bridge between China and Japan and address environmental issues.”

Taking the ideals of Konosuke Matsushita to the world: Fostering certified Panasonic BBP (dendoshi) instructors across the globe

Mr. Wang’s intuition was right. During his first ten years at Panasonic, he worked as a key player on the frontlines of negotiations with Chinese markets and companies. All the while, he learned and experienced firsthand the difficulty and appeal of manufacturing, with a particular focus on air conditioners. He found immense satisfaction in his work, which merged the aspects of business and management with the philosophy of making people’s lives convenient and prosperous. It also brought him joy to see the products he created in stores and being purchased and appreciated by family and friends.

“In 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics, President Hu Jintao came to Japan from my home country and visited Panasonic. Several Chinese employees, including myself, were selected to explain our products and factories. I was entrusted to describe our air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, EcoCute heat pump water heaters, and other appliances. At the time, air conditioners made in China only had low ratings by energy-saving standards. I explained the technology behind inverters and how the strictness of Japan’s energy-saving standards affects power consumption and the environment. These were things I had learned in Japan and what I wanted many others, particularly the Chinese, to know. After that, air conditioners made in China started to meet those standards. This is partly due to competition in the household appliance business in Europe, the United States, Japan, and China, but if taking people and the environment into consideration, it also has the effect of allowing air conditioners with less environmental impact to spread around the world at affordable prices. This was exactly the kind of potential I felt Panasonic had.”

After that, Mr. Wang worked on expanding the reach of Panasonic products in Europe and Southeast Asia. Even with technologies that had shown success in Japan, it was often impossible to spread the products without alterations, and there were many challenges due to differences in water quality and regulations among different countries. Mr. Wang says that whenever that happened, he would turn to the problem-solving abilities he cultivated through research and the spirit of manufacturing rooted in Konosuke Matsushita’s business philosophy.

“Panasonic operates under a business philosophy based on the founder’s words, presented in the form of the ‘Basic Management Objective’ and ‘Company Creed and Seven Principles.’ When faced with a work challenge, I always return to these guiding principles and think about the issues at hand. The Basic Management Objective describes Panasonic’s contribution to the advancement of world culture, and the Seven Principles describes the mindset needed to implement that objective. In 1932, Konosuke Matsushita presented a principle called ‘Tap Water Philosophy,’ which states that poverty can be overcome by supplying goods in large quantities and at low prices, like tap water. I think this could be interpreted as not only overcoming the social problem of poverty that existed back then but also addressing today’s challenge for society: environmental issues. Moreover, the “society” in the “Contribution to Society” in the “Seven Principles” can be said to be the “societies of the world” for Panasonic, which has become a global corporation. When I think of industrial patriotism as contributing to the development, prosperity, and environmental harmony of the world through business toward realizing an ‘ideal society,’ the fog and haze in my vision clear.”

In 2020, as Mr. Wang reached his mid-40s, he started considering his future career plans and chose a new path. He currently works for Panasonic Operational Excellence Co., Ltd., a company that supports the development, growth, and self-fulfillment of the Panasonic Group’s entire workforce. Since 2009, when he serves as a tutor (senior instructor) for the training of new employees, Mr. Wang has always felt the importance of conveying the “Konosuke Matsushita’s philosophy,” which he himself has repeatedly explored. He says he has developed a strong desire to become a certified Panasonic BBP (dendoshi) instructor who conveys this business philosophy to new employees.

A snapshot from a seminar supporting the development and growth of new talent.

Seminars are also being conducted online.

As a certified Panasonic BBP (dendoshi) instructor, efforts are underway to spread Konosuke Matsushita’s philosophy around the world.
This photo was taken in Singapore in 2022.

“In addition to providing training and guidance to new employees of the Panasonic Group, I also invest my efforts into fostering the development of ‘senior instructors’ called tutors, which I also had the experience of being. We are also pursuing the development of such tutors in the Group’s companies overseas. The Panasonic Group has 240,000 employees worldwide, and the users of Panasonic products make up 1% of the global population. The principles underpinning our management and manufacturing spread worldwide through the work of our employees and the products we create. We must not dilute this philosophy, which originated with our founder. We must pass it on to the next generation of employees. Furthermore, we are not only sharing this philosophy within our company but also making it accessible to the public, broadcasting it as our guiding principle, and having people around the world check that we are indeed upholding it. To this end, in 2021, we revised our Basic Business Philosophy for the first time in 60 years and made it public. Corporations are public organs of society. It has been a great pleasure for me to be a part of the opportunity to declare what we have in place to make the world a better place, both inside and outside the company.”

Mr. Wang took the opportunity to study in Japan to broaden his international perspective and communicate with people all over the world. Now, in his role as a talent development officer, he strongly wishes to convey to the current younger generation the need for opportunities to study abroad, live in a multicultural environment, and expand their horizons through firsthand, unbiased experiences. He encourages them to become a bridge between countries and to be international talents who contribute to society. As guiding words to illuminate the path to realizing these ambitions, he continues to convey Konosuke Matsushita’s philosophy.