Mr. Hirao kept me busy as he always had me prepare different kinds of data for his analysis. “Get me the revenue data of past five years by region.” “What were the top 20 products last year?” “Make a revenue projection for the next five years.” “Which are the most profitable business?” I had known where to pull each data set but had never used them in a meaningful way like analytics. He showed me how to turn lifeless numbers into vibrant stories, making it easier for us to spot problems to work on. He resented inefficiency and bureaucratic managers who slowed down the flow of the business stream. He’d argue with them until they get on their butt and improve things. Some managers held a grudge against him, but most were somewhat invigorated by Mr. Hirao, who made them believe they too could become the revolutionary.
One day, a project fell on our hands to change the trading agreement between the headquarter and sales subsidiaries. Until then, the HQ had sold the finished goods to the sales subsidiaries. In the new agreement, HQ would license the right to sell the products in exchange for a fee. Mr. Hirao made me responsible for the deal with the European office.
Drawing the picture of the new business process was the easiest part, but what took me weeks and months was calculating the best appropriate rate of fee. It had to be set at a rate that didn’t change the profitability of either party, but the European business being consisted of multiple currencies, my numbers were pushed back again and again by either Mr. Hirao, the head of the sales department, Mr. N, Miss Sasaki of the Legal dept, Finance dept, Accounting dept, Internal Control, or an external tax consultant.
I had been stretched beyond my capability but pretended I knew s**t. My voice became deeper and louder, and I’d react to the men’s questions and comments with aggression. I’d imply they didn’t understand it because of their lack of knowledge in international trading, and the men would back off because I scored higher than they did in TOEIC.