Oct 17, 2023CAREER & LIFE
Envisioning an exciting future with customers toward the realization of EV society
To leave an environment for our future generation to live in with peace of mind
By meeting outside of the workplace with ambitious, hard-working associates at DENSO—as well as those who just seem to be fascinating individuals—it’s possible to break down the barriers of formality and talk openly, listening to their heartfelt concerns along with their unfiltered dreams and goals.
In this “Interviews with Employees Who Get Results” series, we talk casually with a wide range of professionals at DENSO to learn what truly drives them in their work and their ambitions and dreams.
Masahiro Takatsu, who is involved in a project to support their customers in introducing electric vehicles (EVs), is joining us today. To respond to the shift to the EV society, he is working on solving issues related to the introduction of EVs and planning new businesses and services.
"Gasoline vehicles are still the mainstream, but the widespread use of EVs will be a major key to achieving a carbon-neutral world. We are looking ahead to the future of our children and grandchildren. I want to achieve the project and be proud of myself 10 or 20 years later saying, ' I’m the one who planned and launched the project for the first time.’”
While envisioning the future of society, Mr. Takatsu cherishes small accomplishments every day. While visiting client companies and listening to their frank opinions and problems regarding the introduction of EVs, he is working hard to realize new businesses and services using his planning and proposal abilities as strengths.
He discovers the value that does not exist yet and incorporates it into services that leverage DENSO's expertise and strengths. Mr. Takatsu talked about his motivation to open up such a new business, and the thoughts and feelings that he cherishes.
Contents of this article
The first step in a new business is to "listen to the voice of customers".
───First of all, please tell us about the project you are working on.
Takatsu:We have two missions. The first one is to solve the problems on the market and client companies that hinder the spread of EVs. The second one is to clean the energy for EVs. We are working on a project to solve both of these problems.
However, we are still in a period where gasoline vehicles are mainstream. To spread EVs, it is necessary to discover needs that do not exist yet and create new businesses. It means creating them from scratch. And it also means carving out the market, creating value, and connecting it to business with our own hands. That's our mission.
───You are truly active at the forefront of the opening of the new era of the EV society! What are you working on to plan the new businesses?
Takatsu:First, we listen to the voices of our client companies. We investigate what kind of trends are currently taking place in the market, and what kind of challenges they have. We visit client companies and ask them about their problems and questions about introducing EVs.
By the way, the client companies I mention here are corporate companies that are considering replacing their company vehicles with EVs or are willing to consider it in the future. Since a wide range of companies can be our target, we narrow them down to visit for interviews. First, we visited companies that have environment-friendly management policies and industries whose vehicles emit large amounts of CO2.
───What kind of reactions did you get when you had interviews with the client companies?
Takatsu:I got the impression that many of them were anxious about what would happen when their vehicles were replaced with EVs. It may be because most of them have never driven EVs yet. We also hear that there are many unclear points and issues that gasoline vehicles do not have for the introduction of EVs, such as what is the difference between EVs and gasoline vehicles, how electricity charges would change in the future, how they should manage the charging timing of EVs, and what they should do to smoothly coordinate their vehicle management departments and the energy/equipment departments in their companies.
EVs have just begun to spread worldwide. As a pioneer of the coming era, I feel that we need to stay close to the client companies that are considering introducing EVs.
───What do you value when listening to the honest voices of client companies?
Takatsu:I believe it is important to explain things from the client's perspective rather than that of DENSO. As I mentioned earlier, EVs have not been used or recognized well yet in general. Therefore, if we impose our common sense on our clients as "They will know this", we cannot explain EVs to our customers enough, and they cannot understand it well.
We prepare explanatory materials so carefully that our client companies say, "You can skip it as I know it”, explain the whole image of EVs introduction, and answer their questions in an easy-to-understand manner. While staying close to customers thinking about their individual worries and issues with them, we consider the best solutions for the introduction of EVs together. I try to be aware of that kind of attitude.
─── I can see that you are building a steady relationship of trust with customers through your close communication.
Takatsu:That's right. Thankfully, we have received feedback such as, "After listening to DENSO’s plan, I could specifically imagine how to introduce EVs." and "Now that I can recognize my issues with the introduction of EVs, I would like to positively consider reducing CO₂ emissions."
I would be happier if our plan promoted their awareness and a change of their mind, and I hope that we can become the company that they can rely on to discuss the introduction of EVs.
Listening to feedback from customers and creating new services while leveraging our strengths
───Could you tell me about the unique strengths and expertise you have got while you have visited your customers many times and listened to their real voices?
Takatsu:Originally, I came from an engineering background in charge of design, so I think my strength is that I can think and make a specific proposal to the needs of customers on the spot when I listen to them. I propose solutions that are feasible to some extent including its sense of scale and speed on the spot when the customers ask me “Can you do this?” or “How do you realize it?”.
───I see. It seems that customers can ask you any kind of questions and consult with peace of mind because they are in the steps where they have many questions.
Takatsu:Of course, there are many issues that I cannot solve by myself. I think that we need to build a system where we can share the opinions of customers with engineering divisions, collaborate with them and make a proposal of solutions as a company to customers in such a case.
More specifically, DENSO has earned the trust of customers by emphasizing “Monozukuri” so far. While leveraging our strength of expertise, we will have to create new services based on the customer voice we have gathered. I can say that we have entered such a phase. We will work closely with customers with various awareness of issues and provide them with solutions by combining our products and services. We hope to be able to establish such a position.
───This is exactly the domain of new businesses that you will build from scratch!
Takatsu:That's right. I've always been good at coming up with ideas and drawing a big framework from scratch, so I want to demonstrate values in the EV business as well. It is my pleasure and also the rewarding moment as a planner that my idea takes shape and creates new values in the world as a product or service.
Never give up. Try again and again. Spirit to take on the challenge of new businesses
─── I’m so excited about the moment when innovation happens. On the other hand, I think it may be difficult to open up the frontier.
Takatsu:How do I link ideas to business and realize them? This is the most difficult one. I have ever heard the following story at a lecture.
"An idea has already been out there or someone has already thought about it if all of 10 customers would like to have it. But you can find hidden needs there if 9 out of 10 customers have negative reactions to it, but the rest 1 of them is eager to have it."
I think this example expresses the difficulty and possibility of new businesses in an easy-to-understand manner. You may be happy if you can get a positive reaction from everyone to your idea you think that it is going to work out, but in other words, you shouldn’t try to proceed with such a project with an easy feeling. On the other hand, if 9 out of 10 people have a negative reaction to your idea and you give it up, you will not be able to create a new business forever.
Takatsu:In fact, a variety of companies from various industries, including venture competitors, are beginning to join the EV-related field. I often feel frustrated that the ideas I come up with are preempted by other competitors.
However, it is not so easy to create ideas that will bring innovation to the world. If our idea has been already covered by competitors, we can assume that we are on the right track and come up with a plan that goes beyond that. If an idea is not approved within the company, we should consider it again as a potential need that has not been discovered yet. With a spirit, “Never give up”, I try again and again. Whatever the result is, I try to utilize it to move forward with the creation of the next new project.
As a result of such an effort, I am very happy when I receive positive responses from customers and partner companies, such as "That's great, we'd like to try it" and "Why don't we talk a little further?" After all, there is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen to a new business, so if I receive positive feedback, I will be confident in the direction I am heading. This kind of spirit can be my motivation to keep me going for the days of groping in the dark.
To realize our mission, working with colleagues with the same enthusiasm is the key.
───To realize your current mission, is there anything you feel is more necessary in the future?
Takatsu:As a team, we will aim for a carbon-neutral world with the same enthusiasm. I believe that this attitude is the most important thing of all. So far, I have visited and listened to the customers, and have felt firsthand how they were doing. To further expand the project from here, I need to increase the number of colleagues who work with the same thoughts and passion as me. I need colleagues who think and act independently, instead of doing something because someone tells them to do so.
When you hear carbon neutrality, it may sound like a world that you don't know if it's feasible. But that's why it’s important to have a strong belief with full confidence that “I will make it happen!”, not worrying about uncertainty.
More to the point, we can make a team stronger while talking about our bright and positive future with an exciting motivation by saying, “We would like to create a future like this. We would like to create a world like this.” Believe in what you are doing. Capture the future brightly. I think it will help you overcome any difficulties to believe in what you are doing and consider the future bright.
───Passion and teamwork, as well as the achievements and expertise that DENSO has cultivated. If these gears turn well, it seems that we will be able to provide greater value to the world.
Takatsu:That's right. I believe that DENSO's expertise in automobile domains will be a unique strength in the new EV business. We have expertise that connects both the inside and outside of the automobile. We have technologies and professional human resources in each department who expand options and find breakthroughs. We have a track record of a wide variety of products and services, including group companies. I would like to make full use of DENSO's environment to realize my plans.
Caring for the next generations of our children and grandchildren is the motivation to change the world.
─── Thank you very much. Finally, please tell us about your current will (dreams and aspirations)!
Takatsu:As I mentioned earlier, I would like to create impactful services that will change the world in the domain of EV business that we are currently promoting. Behind this desire is the recent extreme weather and environmental problems. In the summer of 2023, extremely hot days continued, and there was no end to torrential rain damage. When we were children, we could play outside even if it was hot in the summer, but now, children are restricted from playing and taking part in club activities outside.
Environmental problems are not a matter of the distant future in some country. It is a matter of our own lives and those of our children and grandchildren in the future generations.
To change this situation, DENSO is rowing a boat out to realize a carbon-neutral world. "We will steer and lead the world because we are responsible for new EV-related businesses!" I would like to tackle this project that way. I want to create businesses and services that have an impact on the world so that I can proudly say, "I am the one who planned this project for the first time." when I look back 10 or 20 years later.
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