Business Management of Biomass & Geothermal
Mayuko Umenaka
Graduated university with an economics degree, and joined RENOVA in 2003
  • #New Graduate
  • #Department of Economics, Faculty of Economics
  • #Biomass

Question 01 / 06 What is your current job?

I joined RENOVA in 2003, and have been involved in various projects as a consultant in the environmental consulting business. As the nature of RENOVA’s business have evolved, my job has also changed. After taking both maternity and childcare leave twice, I am currently in charge of the operational management of biomass power plants and the coordination of related administrative work. RENOVA will begin operating five new biomass power plants in the next five years. We are building a system of operating the new plants on the assumption of various risks, to operate the new plants more smoothly and safely. In this process , we use our biomass power plant in Akita, which is already operating, as a model. Our team members are working as one to pass the baton to the on-site managers properly when those plants begin operating in the future.

I am also in charge of cross-sectionally improving the overall administrative work of the company. I took on this initiative when I found it impossible to proceed with work as scheduled because of my shorter working hours and reviewed the system with support from my superior. I have worked to ensure that the “secret sauce” that enables the tasks to be done well has been clearly verbalized and shared it with the administrative workers from other departments in charge of the same tasks. We’ve been able to stretch the sauce, and make it even richer. Administrative workers play an important role as the liaison between the head of their department and its members and between other departments and theirs. However, they also have to do many small tasks, which makes it difficult to get an overall picture of their work. I regularly hold lunch meetings with administrative staff from across the company. The meetings are study sessions where we share information and deepen our understanding. These opportunities to communicate are even more necessary as the business of RENOVA grows and changes quickly and the number of employees is increasing rapidly. We consult and help each other instead of struggling to handle problems alone. I want to retain this good RENOVA tradition and pass it down, which is why I took on the above initiative.

Question 02 / 06 What do you value?

What I value in working is empathy. I try to add empathy to the things that I say, to ensure that people communicate with each other as smoothly as possible and make steady progress on projects, even when they are busy with work every day. I hope that I facilitate their work by being involved in their communications.

Sharing thoughts with other team members and overcoming challenges with them to achieve goals is a workstyle that I like. This is why I want people to work as comfortably as possible.

In the operational management of power plants, I think I must not forget that the team members in charge of on-site operational management are working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and that responsibility carries an amount of stress every day. These people enable RENOVA to continue its businesses. I work daily with an awareness of the importance of these on-site workers’ opinions, in my efforts to develop a good business.

Question 03 / 06 What are the good points of RENOVA?

I joined the company as a new graduate in 2003. At that time, the company was only the CEO and around ten other staff members. All of them were working with a strong determination to create a good company and business, and to develop the company, and that corporate climate of working enthusiastically continues unabated. At RENOVA, all the employees participate in monthly companywide Shain-kai, or employees’ meetings. They serve as an opportunity to share information about the latest trends in our businesses and important management issues with other departments and the management team. All presentations during the meetings consistently convey our enthusiasm to create a good company and business. I feel the momentum we gained in the early days of the company has remained unchanged, and I look forward to this meeting every month.

I also like the free atmosphere of the company. Of course, a precondition of this freedom is responsibility. However, as long as you fulfill your responsibilities, you will never be forced to work in a conventional manner. I gave birth to two children and took childcare leave twice. Having returned to work now, I make a lot of time for my family. In the hard days after I gave birth to my first child, my superior once took over difficult jobs I was in charge of, telling me that I should prioritize my family. I appreciate that I am blessed with this work environment, which allows me to flexibly adapt my workstyle according to the stage of my life, and blessed with co-workers who understand my situation.

Question 04 / 06 What did you think before joining RENOVA? What do you think now?

I graduated from a university in Japan and studied environmental management in Canada. Then I started job hunting, hoping to get a job related to the environment. I joined RENOVA because I thought contributing to the development of a company that is beginning to grow and experiencing the dynamic process of its growth would be more interesting than working for a large, established company.

The company’s staff, which was around ten people in those days, has now increased to more than 170 people. The company has evolved faster than I imagined. I like RENOVA’s style, which has remained aggressive since its foundation. I push forward with my work, encouraged daily by my teammates, who work hard to make RENOVA the standard-bearer and leader of the renewable energy industry, which has just begun in Japan.

Question 05 / 06 What is your future career plan?

Within the next five years, RENOVA will launch five biomass power plants, which will be among the largest in Japan. Management practices, which I am responsible for at present, are essential for the stable operation of each power plant. I still have a lot to learn to create an even stronger, more efficient operating structure. I would like to learn from the other team members who have a high level of expertise and reliable knowledge, as well as proactively learning new things myself. Using that learning, I would like to create a system that will be acknowledged by the industry. I also value the human relationships I have with the team members who work at power plants, and the other people involved with RENOVA, in addition to the people from the head office. I want to overcome challenges together with them.

Question 06 / 06 Could you give a message to the people who are interested in joining RENOVA?

The Renewable Energy Business that RENOVA is developing is still in its early days in Japan. It is still in a phase where there is no established answer for how to have it fully take root in Japan. We aim to create the model for others by succeeding in our initiatives ahead of others. I think you will definitely enjoy working for RENOVA if you join us with the intent to complete tasks with no established answer through a repeated trial and error process together with us.

Among the employees working hard at RENOVA, there are many people who joined us as new graduates more than ten years ago, when the company was a venture firm. These employees, through their strong desire to grow the company by opening up new ways on their own, suggested new solutions one after another and have led the company. I would be happy if I can progress with the Renewable Energy Business step by step, together with people who feel it worthwhile to work like those employees.

As of 2019