You might consider Yohei Takeuchi a bit of a risk taker. More likely, he’s a big risk taker who made the most of his opportunity because he now runs a key marketing team for Microsoft in Japan.
Yohei grew up in the world’s largest metropolitan area in Tokyo, Japan, but wanted to experience something new for his college experience. He decided he wanted to attend college in the United States where he could expand his limited English vocabulary.
Surprisingly, instead of looking for a college that had both a large student population and a large influx of Japanese students which would make it feel more like home, Yohei chose to go the opposite route.
“I was looking for colleges in the U.S. that had very few Japanese students so that I would be forced to speak English to live there,” he says. “Plus I was looking for a college with a strong business curriculum, affordable tuition, support for international students, and to have beautiful nature close by.
Enter Lewis-Clark State College. Yohei came to Lewiston in 1995 and attended the English as a Second Language (ESL) program before enrolling at LCSC in 1996. He graduated in 2000 with a degree in Business Administration.
“When I decided to study in U.S., I did have a crisp clear goal,” he says. “I thought I wanted to be involved in business where I can contribute to U.S. and Japan businesses in the future. My time at LCSC helped to build the fundamental of business management/marketing for me, and more importantly, was the best place for me to learn English as second language.”
At LCSC, it didn’t take long for Yohei to take more risks that helped him make new friends.
“When we could not speak English that well, we had a problem,” Yohei says. “We wanted to make friends so we could learn and speak English, but we found we needed to speak English well to make friends. So it was chicken and egg things. So one night a couple of us decided to dye our hair to stand out from other Asian students so we could make friends. We went through red, blue, green, purple, pink… so many colors… but this actually helped us to make new friends in college or any public spaces, especially with kids. And this helped us big time to learn the language. That time when we dyed our hair was one of my favorite memories at LCSC.”
Upon graduation, Yohei took a job in San Francisco with a start-up company, Switchhouse.com, which provides an online consumer marketplace where members can buy, sell and trade second-hand goods. Yohei was in charge of customer service and built the specifications of new services based on customer feedback. He also was part of the team that recruited new business partners outside of the U.S. To no surprise, his area was Japan, which led to his next job.
Yohei moved back to Japan in 2002 to accept a job with Electronic Arts. He was product marketing manager for EA Sports, EA Games and Online games and was in charge from localization of products and package design to full marketing campaigns such as TV commercials, online advertising and retail sales.
“Most of time I was there, I work the team that was headquartered in San Francisco and the team in Japan, so my career path that I was dreaming when I was in high school started to happen,” Yohei says.
In 2006, he took a job with Microsoft in Tokyo. He started as a product manager for developer tools and later was a business manager and then senior product manager for Windows. Now, he runs the marketing team in Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Devices Division.
“My team oversees all of marketing activities with OEM partners from top to bottom to drive Windows devices to consumer and commercial customers,” he says. “I love working for Microsoft. I love the fact that technology is helping people to realize their full potential to achieve more in life. I feel that part of my activities is helping Microsoft to achieve that. So that feeling alone is very rewarding.
“And I love Marketing. Marketing is the power to create the demand where there was zero to start with. From the research and brainstorming with the team, you can build the message that could change consumer purchase behaviors influenced by our message and campaign. Creating formula to make that happen is the best thing for what I do every day.”
As for anyone interested in getting into marketing, Yohei offers this advice:
“I believe the marketing management process is fundamental for problem solving,” he says. “The method can be applied to partner account management, customer services, and of course, product marketing. So if you are going to be a salesperson, the field of marketing will help you to be best salesperson and in the future you can switch the job to product marketing.”
Yohei says he stays in touch with some of the people he met while at LCSC through Facebook. “I love what technology can do, and Facebook is one of great outcome of this industry,” he says. “This is the reason why I work hard every day in this industry.”
He is thankful to those friends and others who helped him at LCSC.
“I remember people who helped while I could not speak English that well, and friends that studied together to accomplish the language and school curriculum, and teachers who spend extra time helping us go through some of materials when we had language challenges,” he says. “If I did not meet those people, I would not be who I am today. So I am really grateful to have met those people.”
Yohei says he loves to spend time with his two daughters and goes camping, fishing and golfing, all hobbies he picked up while attending LCSC. He said he would not change the experience he had at LCSC and adds that he regularly encourages others to take chances like he did.
“You have to really commit to learn, whether you go in LCSC or any other college,” he says. “You can always choose the easy way to go through, but you really have to put yourself into the situation of learning language and new things through curriculums. That being said, I really love LCSC and Lewiston; good people and great nature around it. You can focus on studying hard weekdays and spend awesome weekend in nature such as camping and fishing. There are so many great places that you can visit.”