Sense of ownership

Acting General Manager & GX Incubation Director
Naoki Okada
Received a master’s degree in business engineering from a graduate school of engineering, and joined RENOVA in 2013.
  • #Mid-career
  • #Business Engineering Graduate School
  • #Biomass
  • #Previous job: Energy Company
※This article is an introduction to the biomass fuel procurement work he was in charge of. Please read it to deepen your understanding of this jobs.

Question 01 / 06What is your current job?

For about my first three years at RENOVA, I was involved in consulting. Then I was selected to be a part of a new two or three member team in charge of developing big, new biomass power generation projects. I would travel around Japan with a map in my hand to look for potential locations. I also learned about technologies and created a scheme that RENOVA had never done before, all from scratch. In this way, I experienced the process of feeling out new areas to develop new projects.

When I talked with local people, they reacted negatively at times. When that happened, I not only strived to create trust with the local people but also addressed the problem squarely, trying to provide a specific solution to the issue they were concerned about. For example, in one biomass power plant project, the local people were concerned about the impact of cooling water from the plant on the ocean environment. After listening to these people’s opinions, I decided on introducing an air-cooling system that was virtually unprecedented in Japan at the time. This led the people to be more understanding of the project, because we went as far as to changing the specifications to protect the environment.

We started by feeling our way through the development of new biomass power generation projects, but now we are planning to implement five projects in Japan. At present, I am in charge of procuring the fuels to be used in these power plants. This is a large, long-term initiative for those who supply the fuels, and of course for the procurer. They will not supply fuels unless there is trust established, such as that the project will really happen and stably operate for a long time. At the same time, projects cannot be begun or operated without a fuel supply. It is chicken-and-egg issues like this that make us very nervous. I think it is because our team developed the projects from scratch by working as one that we can explain the feasibility of the projects with a sense of ownership and develop the trust of the people involved, which leads to an unprecedented ability to procure fuel.

Question 02 / 06What do you value?

I value work in which I can have a sense of ownership. I like the words, “sense of ownership” very much. I think that value is lost if you step back and start commenting on a project as if it were someone else’s matter. It is important that work goes well. Apart from this, I have always been conscious of whether I have been able to build up valuable experience on the front lines, working with a sense of ownership. This has always been a criterion for me. When I made the career move to RENOVA, I told this to my interviewers. The management of the company were straightforward and told me they had an environment that fulfilled my desires. When I began activities to develop biomass power generation projects after joining the company, which led to our current achievements, I felt a sense of ownership. I continue to feel that sense of ownership with my current job, procuring fuels for the operation of biomass power plants in the future.

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

I think that a good point of RENOVA is that employees focus their efforts squarely on the projects they are in charge of. We rarely spend time adjusting internal political constraints, balancing internal conflicting interests, or doing similar tasks. Our environment allows us to focus our efforts simply on the purpose of each project itself. This also facilitates cooperation within each department.

The duty of my team is to procure fuels. However, we attach the greatest importance to the goal of beginning the operation of the biomass power plants with everyone else. While fuel procurement is an essential part of realizing plant operations, it does not mean that successful fuel procurement is all that matters. All of us cooperate beyond the boundaries between departments to think about what the best thing is for the development of each project, aiming to produce the best results in every aspect of the project, including power generation technologies and financing conditions. If you take this approach, there is no point in any job where you can point and say, “This is all that I have to do.” Personally, this environment that enables us to work as hard as we want is what makes me feel happy to have joined RENOVA.

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

Before I joined the company, I imagined that its internal environment would permit me to squarely work on each project from the beginning until launch. It is exactly what I imagined.

RENOVA does not simply study new projects. It has the teamwork and reliable ability to get things done, which enables the completion of new projects. Our organizational climate, in which all of us, including officers, work on projects as our own matters, and in the case of a problem, work together to overcome it, is at the core of our ability to complete projects. I think that this climate increases the chance of success.

Question 05 / 06What is your future career plan?

RENOVA has successfully launched a number of renewable energy projects and developed its expertise steadily. I think this is why both its organization and business have grown larger in scale. However, somewhere inside myself, there has always been a desire to maintain the intention to explore business potential beyond the existing winning patterns. The company has been specialized in the environmental field, promoting projects needed in each era. There still exist a huge number of missions that we should achieve in renewable energy and biomass projects. I would like to take on a new challenge again at RENOVA in the near future if I can.

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

After university, I joined an infrastructure company, working there for around two years before moving to RENOVA. I think that was the right choice. In this interview, I referred to the scale of projects as well because I was asked about the projects in which I was involved. However, I have always attached the greatest importance, regardless of the scale of work, to thinking through things with everyone else and creating a path for each project from the beginning with our own hands, without regarding it to be someone else’s matter or repeating what we did before. We have entered the fields of biomass power plant construction and fuel procurement even though companies with no track record were previously not able to. Initially, all of the jobs I did were so tough that there seemed to be no answers, because the tasks were unprecedented. However, I take great pleasure from my work and find it personally meaningful. I am sure that people who like to take on challenges like these will find RENOVA worth working for.

As of 2019