Cross-Cultural Relationships Make the Difference: Q&A with Kenta Keleher, CISB Japanese Track, BABA 2016

Kenta KeleherBriefly describe your career history.

I joined SAP Japan in June 2016. For the first 9 months, I went to the SAP Sales Academy in the Bay area to gain business acumen, selling skills, and software knowledge. I am currently working as an Account Executive at SAP Japan. I have been in the role for about 2.5 years.

What are your current responsibilities?

I am responsible for current SAP customers as well as making new sales to the customers that I oversee. I collaborate with team members who have deep knowledge of our software as well as line of business knowledge, industry specialists, and partner companies that implement SAP software, in order to provide our customers with the best solutions to transform their business.

How did you get the opportunity to work abroad?

I was an officer in the Japanese Student Association at UW, which we connected with many Japanese businesses that came to recruit on the UW campus. SAP Japan was one of these companies, and they flew me to Palo Alto for interviews. I had always wanted to be in Japan at the start of my career, and this was the perfect opportunity for me.

How did CISB help you prepare for this experience?

Working with people from various backgrounds in CISB on projects such as case competitions really helped me prepare for the intensive and interactive interviews that my company held. Also, my study abroad experience in Japan opened up opportunities and connections in the Tokyo area. I was able to leverage them in my job interviews.

What advice would you give to CISB students as they prepare for global business careers?

Focus on “why” people are behaving or speaking in a certain way. Understanding the “why” of a person will take you a lot further than just understanding a foreign language. In order to do this, try to train yourself on the basics such as active listening, coaching skills, and being genuinely curious about the other person. I find that a lot of times, it is not necessarily your language skills, but your ability to develop cross-cultural relationships that will connect you to the right people. Also, try to find your “why” and core values, and work from there see what types of positions will match those values.