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Jo Oyanagi Pedals Toward Success

December, 2009


Jo Oyanagi, 23, of Tokyo, Japan is a J-1 trainee at Trek Bicycle Corporation in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Jo works for Trek in Japan and is taking part in a J-1 exchange program in order to learn an American perspective on customer service and sales techniques that he will bring back to the Japanese side of the company when his training in the US is complete. Jo believes that his time at the Waterloo branch of the company will help to enrich both his future with the company and his personal life.

When Jo got the opportunity to train in the US, he jumped in with both feet. “I was really excited to work in the US, but to be honest, I didn’t know where Wisconsin was at first,” Jo admitted. Luckily, Jo found Waterloo and quickly adapted to his new hometown. He sites population size as the biggest difference between Tokyo (estimated pop. 12,790,000) and Waterloo (estimated pop. 3,259), but the differences definitely don’t end there. A friendly office environment helped Jo feel comfortable in his new surroundings: “My favorite part in the office is talking with my co-workers; either talking something business-related or having casual conversation. When I achieve my work after I discuss with my co-workers, I feel I’m a part of the team.”

Even after being immersed in bike manufacturing on daily basis, Jo still enjoys being around bicycles outside of his training. “I enjoy exercising, so first of all I’m lucky to work at Trek Bicycle Corporation. I ride both road bikes and mountain bikes outside of my training and also my friends invite me to join playing some other sports as well,” Jo says of his free time. Getting out on his bike has helped Jo to experience and explore different parts of American culture. Jo often encounters curiosity about his own culture as well: “I think people are just joking with me, but some people asked me whether or not there are still Samurai and Ninja in Japan,” he shares. Jo enjoys sharing Japanese culture with Americans, and often explains to his coworkers how Japanese individuals would behave in certain situations.

Up next, Jo would like to visit different parts of the US, as his time so far has been spent entirely in Wisconsin. Through his experience, Jo’s best advice to other exchange visitors is to ask lots of question, not be afraid of mistakes and, above all, enjoy the experience!