Try it out first. Change direction if not right. I’ve come a long way that way

Chongfa Min
JP Media Direct Co., Ltd.
(Graduated from the Department of Management, Faculty of Economics. Currently in the 1st year of the Sophia University Graduate Degree Program of Applied Data Sciences)

Study abroad, extracurricular activities, clubs, volunteer work, internships – fulfilling their dreams to grow themselves as individuals. In these seven conversations, students who have challenged themselves speak about how they’ve changed and grown from enrollment to the present.

What I learned at university became a solid foundation for the future

I took many courses during my first year at university. Among them, the strategic management class taught by Professor Hisanaga Amikura of the Department of Management made a strong impression on me. The class was interesting in the sense that it introduced how various companies developed their strategy to sell their products. This class prompted me to join a seminar on management strategy.

Another unforgettable class was consumer behavior. I was able to learn what makes consumers’ minds work and what happens between the time when consumers know about a product and when they actually buy it. I think this class became the foundation for the planning of my career.

I graduated in 2001, which was in the middle of the “employment ice age.” In fact, about 20% of university students could not find a job when they graduated. Thinking that the media was deeply involved in work that moved people’s minds, my first employment choice back then was an advertising agency. I always want to do only what I want to do, and so I narrowed down my choices to advertising, TV, and publishing companies.

My job hunting efforts failed so many times and it was hard, but I never lost interest in the media. Fortunately, I managed to secure a job offer from a small event company, but I kept looking because I could not give up on the idea of working for an advertising agency.

That was when I found a mid-career recruitment article. Although I was going to be a fresh university graduate, I gambled and sent my resume in anyway. Since it was September of my fourth year at school, I took the graduation thesis I had just finished writing on introducing EC to basic skincare item sales with profit simulations for various brands. I attached it to the application and pitched my passion for a marketing job.

A person from the company’s marketing department liked my thesis, and finally I joined the company the following April as a mid-career recruit along with new graduates.

Strong curiosity leads to a new possibility

The advertising agency’s marketing department handled products and services of its clients. My main job was to carry out research on various industries and competing products. As someone brimming with curiosity, I enjoyed the job. However, when I worked at different departments during my early days at the company, I took part in producing an advertisement for a client in the magazine department. This made me want to try magazine production in the future.

Eventually I left the advertising agency about a year and a half later and joined a publisher that produced a wedding-related magazine. There, I found a huge gap between the actual work and what I was imagining. I faced a dilemma of not being able to edit advertisements as I wished because of what these advertisements are for. Confirming that I had more fun dealing with a wide variety of products and services than handling only specific products and themes, about two years later, I returned to the first company I had worked for.

The return was as a temporary worker but again in marketing and staying with that business for 12 years. My job was to simulate the distribution of advertising media that would produce the maximum effect within a budget, based on data on viewing rates and purchasing rates. When I was tabulating and processing data, I developed a growing interest in statistics.

I joined the current company as a full-time employee a few years ago. The company deals with advertisements of various companies to be sent out through direct media (direct mail), and I develop strategies for who and which areas to send the advertisements to. Then, based on data on responses such as sign-ups and purchases, I make recommendations on what to do next.

What is interesting about direct media is that the results appear as numbers. It is at the same time difficult because we must be able to explain to our clients the analysis method and result as well as new proposals in a way that is easy to grasp.

I felt I had reached my limit on how much I could teach myself and decided to enter a graduate school. Around the same time, Sophia University was opening a graduate program for applied data sciences, and so I returned to the Yotsuya Campus as a first-year graduate school student.

Before entering the program, I was imagining I would learn everything about data processing, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover there are actually many practical classes that are required in the field of marketing.

An example is data analysis useful for business. The plan is to start working on the study theme I have chosen. That is, to observe the characteristics of people who buy a particular product, learn how their mind works—including what they compared with that product when purchasing it—and study how data can be used to support my observations.

Digitization and rapid development of generative AI are forcing all industries to change in unprecedented ways. What individual jobs involve will also change significantly. It is up to us how we can grow, and I hope we all can enjoy watching how we change as we progress through our careers.

※Please note that the content of this article is subject as of October 2023

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