In honor of National Intern Day, Jim Reed, president of YKK Corporation of America, answers questions from our summer interns. This summer we had the pleasure of welcoming three summer interns to our office in Marietta, GA and one intern to our office in Medellin, Colombia.
Jim Reed, president of YKK Corporation of America with summer interns Cosmos Cha, Koei Howell and Reza Talebzadeh at the YKK Corporation of America office in Marietta, GA.
Reza Talebzadeh: In your opinion, what are the key skills that an intern needs to have to be efficient in his/her job?
Jim Reed: Understand that you are a valuable part of the team, even if you are not a full time employee. You can add real value to the organization. Attack your assignments with that in mind, and the quality of your work will certainly improve. Also, keep a positive attitude, and be ready and willing to jump into any project that comes your way. Attitude is everything, especially for a young person entering an organization.
Reza: What expectations did you initially have for the interns and how did they develop during the internship period?
Jim: I expected the interns to be self-starters and curious. I gave them broad projects and was very impressed with the work they did.
Cosmos Cha: What is the department, such as accounting, marketing, sales, etc., for a large manufacturing company such as YKK Corporation of America that requires the most attention and management?
Jim Reed: That is a tough question because you really need to take special care for each area of the business. A business is like a body. All organs of the body are important to the overall health. If you do not take care of each part, then it will get sick. This sickness will then infect the other areas and then the body falls apart. But I can say that a manager’s number one duty is to take care of her people. People require the most attention and management. This is universal. It is all about dealing with other people. Whether those people are your employees, your bosses, your customers, your suppliers, or the community around you, every day the focus is on how we treat each other. That is where the focus should be.
Koei Howell: How have the changes of your position at YKK impacted how you measure personal and professional success?
Jim Reed: My measurement of personal and professional success has probably changed a lot over the years! At this point in my career, I judge my success on the number of cool people I get to meet and work with and the number of interesting projects I get to work on. I am a fan of the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If,” and in it there is a great line, ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same . . . ‘. It tells me that true success’ is not measured by outward objective evidence, and it is often a liar.
Koei: What advice would you give to yourself from college? One personal one professional.
Jim: Jim, find interesting professors and ask to do project work with them. Also, stop wasting another minute of your time sitting around watching SportsCenter. This is brief time and there are much better things to do, like volunteering, or getting outside. Also, ask more girls out on dates. The worst thing they can do is so no!
Rosa Zavala Castillo: How do you think it will affect the sale of zippers now that we are dealing with a consumer that is more informed and ecologically aware of the use, creation and durability of clothing?
Jim Reed: YKK has a strong commitment to the environment and has had it since its beginnings. The consumer marketplace is rapidly changing. Now they are demanding the apparel companies address the issue of resources, pollution, and climate change. YKK issued it Vision 2050 to outline our path for the next 30 years. We see this commitment as more than just an ‘add-on’. It needs to be built into the company’s DNA.
Rosa: What is the biggest problem of creating an emotional relationship with the client?
Jim: We take great pride in the unique character of our products, and the benefits we offer to people in their everyday lives. We are there with the firefighter going into a burning building and we are there with the health worker walking into an Ebola ‘hot zone’. We are also there with you when you put on that rain coat to catch the bus. Our products have to work every time so you can do all the important things you have to do.
Meet our Interns:
Cosmos Cha is a senior at Georgia State University majoring in Finance. Some of his hobbies include plant cultivation, hiking, and jogging.
Koei Howell is a rising junior at Georgia State University studying actuarial science and mathematics. His hobbies include working out, biking, and hiking.
Reza Talebzadeh is a graduate student at Georgia State University, J.Mack Robinson College of Business pursuing two masters degrees: one in Quantitative Risk Analysis and Management and one in Actuarial Science. In his free time, Reza enjoys a good game of pool and reading.
Rosa Zavala Castillo is a graduate student at Kennesaw State University pursuing a Masters degree in Integrated Global Communications. She is currently completing a summer internship at YKK Colombia S.A.S
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