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For Kazutada Kobayashi, being an expat means embracing a foreign culture with an open mind and making it one’s own. The president-CEO of Canon India took charge in 2012 when he first came to the country. It has been seven years since and he doesn’t think twice now before calling India “home".

Working at Canon for 39 years in various capacities have exposed Kobayashi to various cultures and geographies, with each helping him grow personally and professionally. Talking about his India experience, he almost always never misses mentioning the warm, hospitable and hard-working nature of Indians.

“Indian people are known for being extremely hospitable and that is something I have witnessed throughout my tenure here. I have also observed that Indians are very hardworking, and I admire their persistent focus on innovation-led growth. In the beginning, it was difficult to adapt to a different lifestyle for me and my family, but with time, India has now become a ‘home’ from a ‘house’," he says.

When in India

Kobayashi’s love for the Indian way of life trickles down to his family as well. Living with his wife, a son and two daughters, the Kobayashi family has taken to the Indian culture as if their own. And this after having lived in multiple countries. He notes how it is heartening to see his family being so adaptable to new experiences and having friends in different parts of the world.

Professionally too, he finds delight in leading a team of Indians. “Of course, everyone has trouble adjusting to a new environment, initially. However, as I spent more time with the team here at Canon India, I realized just how collaborative and inclusive it was. I haven’t yet faced any people-led challenges. In fact, each day was a new learning and brought me closer to the team," says Kobayashi.

The Indian challenge

No new geography is without its fair bit of challenges. India is not any different, according to Kobayashi, particularly keeping in mind how dynamic the country is. “The India market has tremendous potential from various aspects. With the purchasing power of Indians increasing, the consumer’s demands have been evolving consistently at a faster pace," he says. In light of this, it is necessary for his company to evolve and innovate quickly, constantly keeping him on his toes.

Out of the workplace

Besides his extended family back home in Japan, Kobayashi misses fishing. So, he turns to virtual fishing games and watching videos on his laptop.

A healthy work-life balance is important to him. When not at work in his Gurugram office, one will find him enjoying a game of golf or table tennis often with his children or cooking, his go-to stress buster.

“My perpetually curious taste buds really enjoy trying out a variety of flavours that Indian spices have to offer. At times, I experiment with Indian spices and cook Japanese dishes for my family, friends and colleagues," Kobayashi says.

Never a dull moment

Kobayashi affirms that being in a diverse and energy-rich country like India has taught him a lot about being an active contributor to society and aid in the development of the community he operates in.

According to him, Indians have a “never-say-die" attitude which is helping the country grow exponentially.

And at the end of the day, it is the love and affection of the Indians that he says he will miss the most when he moves to another country. “It is so fascinating, and at the same time overwhelming, to see the hospitality and love Indians bestow on you. The fun and opulence of Indian festivals is something I will never forget. No matter where I go, I doubt if I will get the huge get-togethers, grandeur and colours of Indian festivals".

Ask him about the one advice he would give to any expat moving to India and he is quick to suggest that one needs to be open to the array of experiences in store.

He has a simple mantra he believes that has brought him success in India. “Be open in terms of adapting to the diverse culture, flavours and people. This country has so much to offer but to make the most of it, one has to come with an open mindset and flexibility." Expat Speak asks foreign nationals living in India what clicks and what irks them about the work culture of the country.

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