Recently, SAFC Live caught up with Toru Kobayashi, SAFC Manager in Tokyo, Japan at CPhI Japan, where he gave us an overview of the Japanese market and shared an award that SAFC received for ten years of participation at CPhI Japan. Here, we had an opportunity to speak with Toru on a more personal level in this next installment of SAFC Lives.
SAFC Lives presents personnel profiles where we talk to the people and personalities who make SAFC tick, and find out something about their work, what drives them, their aspirations, and what they enjoy doing when they’re not playing a critical role in the ongoing growth of SAFC.
SAFC Live: Hello Toru. Please start us off with a background of your position and an idea of what your day to day duties are.
My title is SAFC Manager. In this role, I oversee a team of twelve that are based in our Tokyo, Japan location. There is no production facility for SAFC here in Japan, so this is more of a sales and marketing based hub for the Japanese market. As a team, we work to develop business in Japan and participate in visiting and communicating with our local customers and the wider market through events such as the upcoming CPhI Japan 2012.
SAFC Live: How long have you been with SAFC and what brought you here?
In May of this year, I will have been with SAFC for five years. I came to this role with a background that spans over 24 years in the fine and specialty chemicals industries. My career started in bench chemistry and over time, I moved into the business side, where I initially worked in sales for technical support, quality assurance and production planning, as well as investment strategy. After that, I moved into marketing new products and then transitioned into business and customer development in the Japanese and US markets.
For the last ten years of that period, I was working in the US and realized I wanted to return to the Asian market. Then this opportunity came up in Japan and it was a perfect fit. I have been with Sigma-Aldrich and SAFC ever since.
SAFC Live: What has inspired you during your career with Sigma? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
There are two inspiring things that immediately come to mind when I think of my job. The first is that as a company, we contract products and services to pharma customers that are putting products out to end-users. These customers are relying on SAFC to facilitate and contribute to their accomplishments. When a client produces a successful new drug or vaccine, it is exciting to know that SAFC took part in that achievement.
The second thought is that working with Sigma-Aldrich and SAFC does not allow for time to be bored because we are always innovating and exploring new technologies. When I joined, I was not familiar with pharma or diagnostics, but I have had a chance to learn it through our activities in the market. My previous experience with SAFC has also given me the chance to work on media and high tech projects and now the BioReliance acquisition will bring new opportunities in biopharm testing and services. I work for a company that always has new and exciting projects and that keeps me inspired.
SAFC Live: What does the “Feel It” campaign mean to you?
The “Feel It” campaign offers a different approach to that which you usually see in the Japanese pharma and chemicals market. The images definitely differentiate SAFC from other chemical companies here. Not only does the client visually see something bright and diverse, it also brings in the aspect of human passion for chemistry. In Japan, you usually see ad campaigns using chemical structures as the visual representation and there is no feeling in that. The “Feel It” campaign for SAFC brings in that element of feeling empowered by what you do and who you work with.
SAFC Live: How do you think SAFC solves problems for customers?
SAFC is working within an industry that has a lot of potential, as well as a lot of changing needs. SAFC differentiates itself with an extensive offering of products and services to fulfill customer needs in the chemical and biochemical fields.
Function-wise, SAFC has capabilities ranging from CMO and CRO capacity, production from trial to bulk production states, and research and development. SAFC is also geographically diverse with locations spread all over the world. This allows us to provide both local and global services with a fully capable worldwide support system. Both of these facts allow customers to have faith in SAFC as a business partner because their goals are our goals too.
SAFC Live: What do you see in the future for SAFC?
The future is bright for SAFC as long as we continue to listen to our customers and focus on cutting edge technologies that contribute to the industry. A core focus of our business remains on open communication with clients so that we can provide exceptional products and services. This focus will help us to grow and change with the market and find new success along the way.
SAFC Live: Outside of work, what are your passions?
I am married with two children, aged 16 and 14. As a hobby, I have enjoyed playing tennis for more than 30 years.