Japan: Fred Martin, engineer

Fred Martin, engineer in Japan

Happy with his dream job: Fred Martin tests large solar power plants in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region for TÜV Rheinland. The 36-year-old found his way there through a six-month internship he undertook as part of the Heinz Nixdorf Programme. With the support of this scholarship between 40 and 50 young management talents travel to Asia each year to gain an insight into local working life. GIZ organises and runs the programme.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

As a child I had a lot of dreams. I wanted to be an astronaut, for example. I was interested in technology from an early age, but also for the human aspects involved. For a long while I considered studying industrial engineering, physics or even philosophy. Eventually I opted for mechanical engineering, which was the perfect compromise for me.

What does your typical working day in Japan look like?

My work is very varied. As team leader in the photovoltaics department I am responsible for approving and inspecting large solar power plants. I have to ensure we stick to our schedule and remain within budget, in addition to motivating my colleagues. I discuss resources with senior management and coordinate tasks and teams worldwide. Sometimes I visit customers with sales staff, or I carry out tests in the laboratory.

What has been your biggest challenge in Japan?

The language, and I am very grateful that the scholarship provided me with the necessary foundations. Nowadays I speak very good Japanese although, after seven years, I still haven’t mastered the graphic characters enough to be able to check contracts myself or to read detailed texts. Japanese remains a never-ending voyage of discovery for me!

How do you respond to difficulties at work?

I always ask myself if the difficulties really are so serious, or whether it is only the stress that makes them seem so. It is therefore important to first analyse the problem, before looking at it calmly and solving it.

Where does the future lie for you and your family?

Almost seven years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I would stay in Japan for so long. I’d actually only planned to stay for eight months, so I’m always careful about making predictions. That is the nice thing about life, though; it’s full of surprises. I can see myself staying here longer; the people are nice, the weather fantastic, the trains punctual, the post service reliable and there are a lot of practical things like shops that are open 24:7. Whatever happens, I hope that my family and I will be happy.


        
    
With a scholarship from the Heinz Nixdorf Programme Fred Martin arrived in Japan in 2008. He still lives and works in Yokohama. Photos: Thomas Stalder
With a scholarship from the Heinz Nixdorf Programme Fred Martin arrived in Japan in 2008. He still lives and works in Yokohama. Photos: Thomas Stalder

        
    
Even as a child, the engineer was enthusiastic about technology. His degree in mechanical engineering has paved the way to his dream job.
Even as a child, the engineer was enthusiastic about technology. His degree in mechanical engineering has paved the way to his dream job.

        
    
Fred Martin has worked for TÜV Rheinland in Yokohama for over six years.
Fred Martin has worked for TÜV Rheinland in Yokohama for over six years.

        
    
He tests mega solar power plants in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.
He tests mega solar power plants in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.

        
    
As team leader in the photovoltaics department, Fred Martin is responsible for motivating his coworkers and coordinating tasks and teams worldwide.
As team leader in the photovoltaics department, Fred Martin is responsible for motivating his coworkers and coordinating tasks and teams worldwide.

        
    
As an engineer, Fred Martin does not just feel committed to technology, but also to the community.
As an engineer, Fred Martin does not just feel committed to technology, but also to the community.

        
    
Working and living in Japan is very challenging. Every day there is something new to learn and discover.
Working and living in Japan is very challenging. Every day there is something new to learn and discover.

        
    
He enjoys his job and would still continue working even if he were to win the lottery.
He enjoys his job and would still continue working even if he were to win the lottery.

        
    
After seven years in the country, Fred Martin speaks good Japanese. Nevertheless, the language remains one of his greatest challenges.
After seven years in the country, Fred Martin speaks good Japanese. Nevertheless, the language remains one of his greatest challenges.

        
    
He is settled in Yokohama and makes the most of the Japanese cherry blossoms during a walk in the park.
He is settled in Yokohama and makes the most of the Japanese cherry blossoms during a walk in the park.

        
    
He wouldn’t want to do without the Japanese cuisine anymore, either.
He wouldn’t want to do without the Japanese cuisine anymore, either.