New challenges make me feel excited

Mariko Fujita, Head of Finance for VFS Japan, shares her thoughts on VFS' values, her educational and professional background, and priorities in her position.

Which of the VFS values is most important to you?

All of the VFS values are very important. However, as a working mother, Work/Life Balance and Strength Through Diversity are key themes in my life. It is always challenging to find a good work/life balance, which applies not only to working mothers, but also to everybody else as well.

Each individual is in a different stage in life, and this needs to be respected. It is important to understand an individual’s situation through open conversation, provide good support, and build a structure that is dependent on the whole team, rather than only on any single person. We have peak times in the business, but if we can schedule well and organize upfront, these times can be manageable, in most cases. It is not only for the individual’s benefit but also for the company’s benefit. It helps us to keep our colleagues engaged to help to deliver performance, which in turn delivers good business results.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I am a Tokyo native, and live with my husband, a daughter who is turning seven years old soon, and a small black dog. I majored in Law at my university and graduated with a Japanese legal certification (Shiho-shoshi), so my career path is not a typical one for a law graduate, as I became a finance professional.

My career in finance started with a consulting company, Accenture, where I sharpened my critical thinking skills. Subsequently, I joined an electric components distribution company, RS Components, where I worked in a corporate planning role, before joining the commercial team as an e-commerce manager. Through that experience, I obtained a broader exposure to the business outside of working in a finance role. After that, I joined GE Capital Japan in a finance role for the consumer finance business, and then I moved to GE Capital APAC Regional headquarters, overseeing seven countries. During that period, I went through a number of business restructurings, business demerger, and a few business integrations. Prior to joining VFS in July 2015, I was working in the finance team at Amazon Japan’s fashion retail business unit.

What are your priorities in your position as Head of Finance for VFS Japan?
My priorities are to balance the commercial growth aspirations of the business with strong financial governance and analytical structure and discipline for VFS Japan. I am also focused on supporting and strengthening my team to be a world class finance team and helping them grow further.

What gets you excited about coming to work each day?
Work is like riding waves. No day is the same, just as no wave is the same. New challenges and the feelings I get from accomplishments keep me excited in my job. It is the same as if you can successfully ride a tough wave, you will feel good about it!

What advice would you share with employees as they look to develop their own skills and careers?
My advice is to focus and work hard on what is in front of you, and deliver the results. Also, be self-critical and challenge the status quo. There is no perfect place in the world, and if you only complain, nothing will ever change. It is only you who can change the environment or situation that you are in.

What is the best advice you’re ever received?
'Choose your battles,' is the best advice I've ever received.

What do you do for fun?
I relax by going to hot spas (onsen) in the country side.