Kohei Tamura: My education in Australia helped me be where I am today

Interview by Molly O'Brien, Marketing & Communications Specialist, Advance.

Tokyo-based Kohei Tamura is the manager of Special Projects & Innovation Partnerships at Rio Tinto. Kohei’s role involves working with Rio Tinto's Corporate Relations team and Growth & Innovation team, as well as external stakeholders such Australian Embassy in Japan, the Foundation of Australia Japan Studies for enhancement of the bilateral relationship and Rio Tinto’s major Japanese supplier partners.

Committed to contributing to the relationship enhancement between Australia and Japan through education, Kohei attributes his time in Australia as very informative to the success he has experienced throughout his career.

How would you summarise your experience studying in Australia?

Trying to do well with both work and study simultaneously!

Was it always in your plans to complete a Graduate Diploma, your Masters, and later a Bachelors degree in Australia?

For my Masters of Commerce and CA program (graduate diploma), it was always the plan. I went back to Australia after spending a year as an exchange student to complete this. The rest was more for the purpose of building my career as I saw necessary – and I was able to do so thanks to the support of my employers and flexible arrangements. 

What appealed to you the most about Australian educational institutions?   

I can only compare it with the Japanese system, but I have a few points: 

  • The need to work in collaboration with other students.
  • The practicality that Australian Universities employed, both in terms of content but also infrastructure including online accessibility.
  • The energy of the faculty.
  • The diversity of the students. Not just nationality, but also age.

Do you stay connected to the Universities you attended in Australia? If so, how?

I occasionally attend alumni-related events in Tokyo but not necessarily with the universities directly. I am very keen to find a way to contribute back to them.

How did studying in Australia help you professionally, particularly with your role as the manager of Special Projects & Innovation Partnerships at Rio Tinto?

I initially joined Rio Tinto’s tax team in Brisbane after spending time at a large professional firm so without the training and education, certainly, I would not be where I am today. So to this end, it was helpful. 

Right now, what I do is not too relevant to the area of study I undertook at universities in Australia, but it is definitely helpful in working with many people from Australia and helping our colleagues to effectively work with our Japanese stakeholders.

What do Australian Universities do well? What can international Universities learn from them? 

  • Positioning themselves in the international market for business.
  • The flexibility of learning style – even for those who work full time.
  • No nonsense approach to learning (all slides are available online – so we do not have to worry about just copying what lecturers write).

Working so closely with the two countries, how would you describe the relationship between Australia and Japan? 

It’s a friendly one where both countries trust and like each other, based on the highly complementary nature of economic relationships. Recently there has been more interaction in the culture front, which is deepening the level of relationship.

What keeps you motivated?

Meeting with interesting people and the want to become one of those for others.

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