I was assigned a new supervisor, Mr. Saito. I judged from his appearance and demeanor that he was super misogynist. His stocky body and crew-cut hair, thick, straight brows, and black-framed glasses made him look like an awkward Judo wrestler. He was single and in his early-30s, though his collected manner gave a mature impression. It might have been this calmness that was often misconstrued as arrogant and patronizing. In fact, he was disliked by his male colleagues while trusted by the top management.
Until then, tasks assigned to me were menial. The men asked for my assistance with their overflowing workload, and I couldn’t see where my contribution fitted into the bigger picture of the business. When Mr. Saito gave me a task to do, he explained the purpose and the goal it would achieve upon completion. This gave me a sense of ownership that I did the work from zero to 10 instead of 1 of 10. He also gave me practical advice on how to approach the resolution. When I got stuck, he dissected the issues and straightened the string for me. Each time I finished a task, Mr. Saito assigned me another one that was a little harder than the last. I accumulated knowledge and experience that were noticeable to others. I became more confident when I spoke to people at senior positions, like my role model, Miss Sasaki, who commended that I have grown fast under Mr. Saito.
I trusted Mr. Saito’s supervision and appreciated his fair treatment of me. He was highly aware of the organization’s power dynamics and was sensitive to how that could affect me. He once warned me about some of the men in the office. “Be careful with who to place trust on. The only women Mr. X and Y (ex-automotive company baby boomer bosses) have ever dealt with are their wives and bar hostesses. They probably don’t know what to do with you.” I laughed at his accurate observation of Mr. X and Y, but anxiety struck me; what would happen to me if I lost Mr. Saito?