We connect with Class of 1998’s Yuka Inamura, a St. John’s ‘lifer’, as she shares her career journey in the oil & gas industry, and how St. John’s academics and diversity primed her to work in a multi-cultural workplace.
What year did you graduate from St. John’s School?
What did you do the year following High School graduation?
While most of my graduating class went to universities in the states, I decided to attend International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan where I studied Information Science.
Can you tell us about the career path you chose after college?
I have been working in the Oil & Gas Industry for the past 16 years since my graduation. I started as a Wireline field engineer in Mexico, then was transferred to Louisiana, USA, with the same job. As a field engineer, I worked on land and offshore oil rigs acquiring data for major clients like Shell, Exxon Mobil, Pemex, and BP. After 4 years in the field, I was transferred to France where I worked for the Technical Support helpdesk for 2 years, then moved to another position as Customer Service Leader for the Manufacturing department. After 6.5 years in France, I was transferred to Japan as Product Quality Manager. Since coming back from maternity leave, I have been working as a Manufacturing Planner for 2 years.
Outside of work, what other activities/organizations are you involved in?
While working in France I used to be part of the local Tennis team. Currently, my life is quite occupied with my 2 young children (4 and 2 years old). I am still able to find some time for my photography hobby and take part in some classes and groups from time to time, although it is a bit difficult with the current COVID-19 situation.
What do you enjoy most about your current career position?
As a Manufacturing Planner, I am responsible for ensuring that production is on schedule as per the monthly/yearly plan and that any other spontaneous urgent customer needs are met. Collaborating with the Supply Chain team, I make sure the raw materials are delivered before production is started, and by liaising with the workshop supervisors, ensure there is enough workshop capacity to build the final goods. It is also important to manage the priorities of the workshop when there are unexpected urgent orders in the production line. I feel satisfaction when products are delivered on time and when I am able to meet the needs of customers when they need something urgently.
How did you become interested in your field of study or work?
During university, I was fortunate to take part in a Japanese government scholarship program called “Vulcanus in Europe,” a yearlong program consisting of 4 months of language study followed by an 8 months Internship. My current employer is the same company where I did my internship as a Software Engineer in France. During the internship, I learned about the “Field Engineer” job where I can work around the world and ride helicopters to go to the oil rigs. I thought I could always do a job in an office later, but that when I was young was the only time to do such a challenging and exciting job. I immediately signed up for it and was based in Mexico the following year.
How has attending St. John’s prepared you for success in college and in the workplace?
St. John’s definitely prepared me well for college academically but looking back, I feel very fortunate to have spent my whole young-adult life in a multi-cultural environment. The company I work for employs 170 nationalities and my first training course of about 20 people included colleagues from Argentina, France, Iran, China, US, Norway, to name a few. Having attended St. John’s, I feel I naturally fit in to the working environment and still love the diversity.
Do you still keep in touch with your St. John’s School friends?
Yes! Although I am not great at keeping in touch, I still talk with quite a few of my Class of ’98 friends. I got to meet up with a few while I was living in the states, and some have visited me while I was living in France. Even if I have not talked to them for months, when we meet up, it’s like being back to high school immediately.
What experiences from St. John’s are the most memorable? Do you have a favorite teacher, mentor or counselor?
Having attended St. John’s from Pre-K to High School graduation there are countless memories: from little memories of looking forward to buying popsicles during recess time, to getting excited each September finding out who my classmates would be and finding out that I’m in the same class as Yusuke again for 7 straight years (still my great friend), to having fun at Tumbling Club (Thanks Mr. Evola for spotting me to do back handspring a million times! I still can’t do it on my own…), to the school trip to New Zealand (Thanks Mr. & Mrs. Hull for being a great chaperone!), to doing homework in Mrs. Petra’s classroom (Thanks for always helping us out), to the late night math study sessions with Mr. Pearson (Do you remember the Three Musketeers?), to the fun after school tennis/track practices!
What would you say to a prospective family who is considering St. John’s School?
I would just like to say that I feel very lucky that my parents chose St. John’s School for my education and I hope I would be able to give the same opportunities to my children!
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