Meet SIGMA

Episode 5 - Chief of Division 2, Assembly Section 1, First Assembly Unit of the Assembly Division: Harumi Watanabe

Meet the people at SIGMA's factory in Japan: Chief of Division 2, Assembly Section 1, First Assembly Unit of the Assembly Division - Harumi Watanabe

- SIGMA Global

Oh no, are you really going to show such a big photograph of me? That’s embarrassing… I was always nervous in front of people. I know I talk a lot but, honestly, I’m a terrible speaker.

Its fifteen years since I graduated from high-school and joined this company. I’ve been working in the assembly division the whole time. I was rather happy to be assigned here when I joined the company. I’m skilled with my fingers, I enjoy handicraft and, most importantly, here I am able to sink into my own world all day without having to talk to anyone (laughs). But before I knew it I became subdivision chief and now I’ve got to talk to people all the time. Who’d have seen that coming? (laughs)

I was actually the very first female subdivision chief in the assembly division. Many women worked in this division, and so they increased the number of women in leading positions. There actually are a lot of situations and worries that are difficult to understand if you’re not women, whether it’s morning sickness or your child being ill with a fever. So I think it makes it easier to speak about this with a woman in the lead. It’s better to support everyone in your team who wants to do their best, even if circumstances may make it difficult for them, otherwise they’ll quit work once they become mothers, for example.

Of course, in some regards I have to be strict, it is work after all, but I try to remain approachable — I start conversations during work breaks, I make a lot of jokes and, in general, treat communication as a vital aspect of work. I can’t call myself a terrible speaker anymore, can I?
Also, I want to finish work and get home on time even without any pressure from my staff. (laughs) Every morning I tell everyone, “I want neither you nor me to do unnecessary overwork, so let’s do our best!”

There are thirteen lines in the assembly division now. The busy lines have 40 people working on them in a mass-production style while smaller lines like our Cine Lens line only require four to five people. I am in charge of all the OEM and the Cine Lens lines. In lens manufacture, the capacity of the assembly line is synonymous with the capacity of the entire manufacture process. In the respect, you do feel some pressure.

The structure of the Cine lenses is completely different to that of the still lenses, and as a result workers who are experienced with still lenses can’t simply assemble Cine lenses in the same way. There are many parts in the Cine lenses construction that require special consideration, and much of the know-how and skills acquired while assembling still lenses can’t be applied. With still lenses, the quantity and speed of production are different, too. You require an efficient assembly set-up that allows workers quickly to understand the processes and assemble without errors, but it’s a different story with Cine lenses. The zoom lenses that we started assembling in February are especially difficult. It took a lot of work to create a set-up that fulfilled our requirements for both precision and speed.

In the past, I think I would have been frustrated and nasty to be around in such a situation. But now we have such a strong team to rely on. If any problem occurred with the zoom lenses, then members of the prime lens team or other teams would come and help us out. I think I’m very lucky in that regard. I am able to do a very difficult job thanks to the many skilled people working here with me.

Rather than dexterity or workmanship, it’s more important to have good awareness and comprehension and to know how to communicate when in a leading position. To put it clearly, the success of our work relies on the work being done by everyone on the line. I think for a leading position you’d want someone with a sense of responsibility, a deep understanding of the workplace conditions and the ability stay in touch and give recommendations to the superiors. There are many women in my team who would be great leaders. I have a lot of trust in them, and I’m sure they’ll soon lead the teams of our assembly division.

Harumi Watanbe
Chief of Division 2, Assembly Section 1, First Assembly Unit of the Assembly Division

Born in Aizu Misato in Fukushima Prefecture. Responsible for interchangeable lenses at the Assembly Division.
“At any rate, I do enjoy a drink, especially if it is Japanese sake. Sake made in Aizu is very good!”

The highly difficult assembly process of cine zoom lenses. The tension at the workplace is palpable.

"- She works in the frontline of our production. The assembly unit is the last stage in the manufacturing process. She is very committed to meet production number estimates, and works as quickly and carefully as possible without compromising reliability. During a business revision review last year, she earned much praise and received a gold award for the improved cine lens productivity. She is eager to improve further, and her achievements are impressive. She is a straight-forward character with a certain female attentiveness, which is why in the team everybody regardless of gender trust and rely on her.", Denju Matsumoto, General Manager of the Assembly Division

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