June 5, 2008

A (Little) Bit On Panasonic and Company Life

For obvious reasons, we have made a conscious decision to focus this blog on our personal adventures, and we have decided not to blog a lot about Mike's job as an intellectual property attorney at Matsushita Electric.

But . . . we thought that some background on Matsushita Electric (aka Panasonic) may be of interest. The company's founder, Konosuke Matsushita, is legendary in Japan. It is a true rags to riches story. From meager beginnings, through persistence, innovation, and his later-famed management philosophies, Matsushita founded a company that today stands as one of the largest electronics companies in the world.

By the end of this year, all of Matsushita's brands (Panasonic, National, and Technics), as well as the name of the company itself, will be unified as Panasonic.

The sheer scope of products under the umbrella of Panasonic is striking. Products include consumer electronics (TVs, DVD players, camcorders, digital cameras, etc.), semiconductor chips, cell phones, mobile phones, computers, printers, copiers, the full compliment of home appliances (washing machines, driers, refrigerators, etc.), batteries, motors, lighting, ultrasound devices, blood glucose strips, electronic components, storage devices, automotive components, factory production equipment, and more.

They even own their own professional soccer team - Gamba Osaka. (Here is their official site and, for all you mascot fans out there, their official mascot, Gamba Boy.) Like many large Japanese companies, Matsushita also owns a basketball team in the Japan Basketball League (JBL), and has had an amateur baseball team in Japan's Industrial League.

Mike is really enjoying the work aspect of being here very much. It has been both diverse and interesting. (He has not, however, adopted the lifestyle of the typical Japanese "sararimen," other than that he has to ride the trains with the masses.)

It is interesting to note that, for the Japanese, the whole gestalt of working for "The Company" in Japan is quite different from the U.S. Back in the U.S., people move from firm to firm every few years. Here, you work hard to get into a top University, and, if you are lucky, are then recruited by one of the top Japanese companies. You start right out of college and tend to stay with that Company for your whole career. So, as you can imagine, people very strongly identify with their Company. The Companies are basically giant granfalloons. (insert shout-out to Kurt Vonnegut here!)

Twice a day, the Matsushita corporate anthem is piped into the office building. And Mike, along with all of the other Matsushita employees, even has a Matsushita corporate lapel pin. All employees of the big Japanese companies wear their company's unique lapel pin to proudly indicate their company. (Of course, Mike will not be Panasonic For Life, so he will have to give his pin back when he completes his assignment over here.)

1 comment:

Matthew J said...

Where I work, the term "lifer" is used to refer to employees who will stay with the company for their entire career. It certainly is not the norm in most fields of work...It would seem we are encouraged to sample various companies and careers in this country. That's my two cents.