Experience a VIE life in OPTIS

A day in the life of Thomas ROBIN - OPTIS Japan Office

July 10th, 2017 | OPTIS group


Thomas ROBIN works as Application Engineer with OPTIS Japan. Thanks to his VIE experience, he explains how being in a different country has an influence on his professional and personal life. 


The VIE (Volontariat International en Entreprise) is a French program which aims at reinforcing the business of French companies' subsidiaries. How? Simply by sending dynamic graduates and young professionals abroad, for flexible assignment, in a variety of sectors. This program enables OPTIS to recruit young French candidates between 18 and 28 years old for long-term missions - up to 24 months - and a wide range of assignments. The missions are determined by the company's needs: technical support, administrative and marketing assistance, etc. 





" At OPTIS Japan, I work as an Application Engineer focusing on VR. Many things have changed for me since I’m here. My mission, to begin with. In France, as a Solution Engineer, I was focusing on the products and I mainly used to work with the internal teams. Now, I am in direct contact with the customers. My main tasks are pre-sales strategy, including customer demonstrations with the sales team, customers' pieces of training, as well as post-sales services with customers' support and follow-up. Part of my job is also to ensure a good communication - I act as a bridge - between the Japanese and the French teams. 






But the biggest change is the cultural one, definitely! Working methodologies really vary from one country to another and mine have changed a lot since I've been there. Interacting and communicating with people is more complicated than it is in France - especially with customers. The Japanese have a very complex set of business standards and customers have a particularly high social status. You really need to show particular respect when addressing them - more than in other countries. 


This also relates to one of my main challenges there: the language. It has been – and still is- hard for me not to understand everything – both at work and in my daily life- and to miss information because of cross-comprehension problems. Even if I came to Japan four times before actually living there, my first days were quite complicated: visiting a country and actually living and working there are two really different experiences. For example, the first time I went to food market I couldn't understand what the products were - everything was written in Japanese - and I even had no idea about how to cook them.


I only started to learn Japanese 2 months ago! As far as my work is concerned, my OPTIS Japan co-workers help me with a translation every time I need it! But, not speaking a language is frustrating: I don't feel like I'm completely autonomous and there is like a permanent " filter" between me and the customers. 


Little by little, I gain a realistic sense of what local life and habits are like. My experience has proved to be really enriching: I've learned a lot, mostly how to live and work differently. I do think that the VIE program is an inspiring experience that cannot be lived in another way. It uses to change you: you become more open-minded and feel like you have grown up both personally and professionally. It's clear that the VIE program offers an interesting challenge to overcome because you really feel like starting from scratch. For me, it has been the best way to discover a country and its culture, and I wish I could live similar experiences in other countries, all around the world!"