Mercari’s employee Buddy System: making sure international members kick off to a good start! #MercariDays

Disclamer:This interview has been conducted online, all Mercari employees are now working from home as stated in our CEO message regarding COVID-19.

Coming to work in Japan for the first time is an exciting but also challenging experience. Having the proper support is key in the process of smoothly adapting to a new life and becoming acquainted with colleagues in order to perform at optimal levels.

Understanding that, Mercari provides the Mercari Pro Pack to provide support for members facing these issues, and ensures that everyone can work at their best to fulfill our company values “Go Bold,” “All for One,” and “Be a Pro.” One of the programs that are included in this pack is the Buddy System, also known as #pj-chameleon within Mercari members, launched by Mercari’s Global Operations Team (GOT) in 2019, and created to accommodate new members relocating from outside of Japan.

At Mercari, new members who are going to be living in Japan for the first time will be assigned a mentor who provides work-related support and a buddy who provides support and consultation regarding any issues involving life in Japan. Their buddies are generally assigned for 3 months following entry and offer consultation as many times as needed.

This time we have Mizuki, Juan, and Martin talking about their personal experience living and working in a multicultural environment and how they are now applying their knowledge and skills to this program.

The Mercari Pro Pack also includes Language Training and Communication Support programs. (Archive Picture)

The challenges and rewards of living abroad.

Mizuki (@mizhrt) is a Translator and Interpreter at GOT and leader of the buddy system. We talked about his experience living abroad and how he is now supporting other members.

I’d spent a large part of my life living in the UK before moving to Shanghai in 2010 and to Japan in 2014. Living and studying abroad has helped me to become a much more balanced person, as you learn a lot about other people and countries of course, but you also learn a lot about yourself, and this has been particularly rewarding for me.

When I first came to Japan, I had a lot of trouble setting up my utilities as my name has a hyphen in it. This is minor in the grand scheme of adapting to Japan, but these minor things can add up! I think the biggest difficulty was finding out what I needed—to adapt—and acquiring these things as fast as I could.

We try to do all that we can to support the international community here at Mercari and the feedback has generally been very positive. Some people don’t bump into a lot of problems and experience a smooth entry, while others bump into a lot of problems or find themselves lost in their first few weeks. We can be a strong point of contact for these types of people.

Keeping an open mind, learning to adapt to different situations and multiple environments.

The leaders of the buddy system are not only multilingual but also experienced in adapting to different environments and cultures. This makes them ideal mentors for Mercari’s new members who arrive in Japan.

Juan (@juan) is also a mentor and has supported 6 members so far. We asked him about his experience over the past months.

As buddies we aim to support foreign members to fit in, providing them with cultural context, making sure they feel included in their teams, or that they have all the tools they need so that they feel comfortable working at Mercari.

The challenges of adapting really depend on the person. Some people might find it hard to open a bank account, others might have problems building relationships with their coworkers, etc. My job as a mentor is mainly “being there” for them to identify these issues, providing insights and objective advice.

Being a buddy has helped me put myself in other people’s shoes and see things from different perspectives. If I can point out something that most people have in common, though, is the energy and excitement they all have about joining Mercari. And that is something that always inspires me.

Juan: I’m always happy to help others in any way I can to create a more inclusive and open environment. (Archive Picture)

I also talked with Martin, originally from Argentina, he joined Mercari in 2019. He is one of the buddies and told us about his challenges as a newcomer.

Most of my initial challenges after arriving in Japan were related to two things: not having the Japanese language level to help me dealing with all the paperwork required to settle down, and understanding the way things work on Mercari. In this regard, having someone committed to making my initial period in Japan and the company as easy as possible was a great help.

I would recommend to newcomers not to feel overwhelmed by the transition, it takes time to settle down. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as needed, this project is here to make your life easier.

Martin: It was great to have a person available to help when I had some paperwork to fill and answer my questions when I had any doubts about Mercari. (Archive Picture)

Adapting to a new environment is a long-term process, but thanks to #pj-chameleon Mercari’s new members coming from abroad can feel more confident knowing they have a team of experienced people supporting them to make sure that they can start performing at their best and kick off working life at Mercari to a good start to its fullest.

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