At a young age, Japanese and integrated supply management student Regina Cassens became interested in Japanese culture. Study of the language in high school and continued passion for the culture propelled her to where she is today. Armed with her language skills and business experience, she is looking forward to post-graduation career with Arete, a New Jersey-based IT software consulting company where she will help expand the supply chain division to Japan. After training in New Jersey beginning in May, Cassens will move to Tokyo to help the company transition and begin her international career.
When Cassens first began at Western, she was a pre-business student unsure of how she could use her passion and knowledge of the Japanese culture and language in a profession. After a meeting with Dr. Bret Wagner, associate professor of management, Cassens focused on double majoring in integrated supply chain management and Japanese as a way to pursue a career in Japan.
“Japan is the perfect place for Regina to put her knowledge of supply chain and the Japanese culture to work,” says Wagner. “Because the island nation has such a large population and very few resources, they rely heavily on the efficient importing of raw materials and exporting of goods, which is a main component of supply chain management.”
Cassens says that after two study abroad trips to Japan, she knows that her degree in supply chain was the right choice. She notes that the Japanese word “kaizen,” meaning continuous improvement, is a mindset followed by the Japanese encouraging innovation, a tie to the evolving processes in ISM. She credits Wagner with helping her arrange her schedule at the college to complete multiple study abroad programs, helping her gain crucial experience with the language and culture.
“By experiencing the business culture in Japan, Regina was able to network globally, which is challenging for students who don’t study abroad,” says Wagner. “Regina’s study of the Japanese culture and language is an important asset to her future career in supply chain management, which is a major part of the Asian business market."
Cassens has had opportunities to couple her knowledge of American and Japanese culture to benefit Japanese citizens in business. “With a focus on global communication, it is important for business professionals to understand how meetings and conferences are conducted in other countries,” says Cassens. During one of her study abroad experiences, Cassens met with Japanese business professionals to help them learn more about networking in America. Cassens credits WMU’s Study Abroad program with providing one of the top programs in the nation. Through her two study abroad experiences, Cassens was able to study at Keio and Rikkyo, two of the top universities in Japan.
“Western provides students who wish to travel abroad in Japan with the opportunity to study at some of the premier universities in the country,” says Cassens. “Students at other top universities throughout the United States don’t always have the opportunity to study at these schools. WMU makes it possible.”
Between two study abroad experiences and internships at Whirlpool, Case New Holland and Denso in purchasing, Cassens attended job fairs in Boston and New York where employers were looking for candidates fluent in Japanese and interested in career opportunities in the country, two areas which were a part of Cassen’s dream job. From a pool of applicants with engineering and MBA degrees from Ivy League colleges, Cassens pulled out on top and accepted the position with Arete following spring graduation.