17 Jul 2019
2nd April 2018
JET Spotlight: Caroline Klein
After studying Japanese at university, Caroline Klein spent five years in Japan, first as a CIR and then working for CLAIR in Tokyo. After JET, she spent nearly ten years working in marketing and communications for Daiwa Capital Markets before joining the (at the time) Japanese-owned Canopius Group.
JETLAG caught up with Caroline to learn about her experiences on JET and beyond, and how she wants to connect with Japan in the future.
1. What inspired you to join the JET Programme?
I lived in Japan when I was young because of my dad’s work and kept an interest in the country that led me to Japanese studies at Cambridge (including a year in Tokyo). After graduation I ended up in a pretty boring research job in London. I was looking for something completely different where I could use my Japanese and I applied to be a CIR on JET.
2. How did you find your experiences as a JET?
Amazing. Challenging but fantastic. I didn’t intend to stay more than one year but once I was in situ, there was so much more I wanted to do – both professionally and personally – that it was a no-brainer to stay. I ended up spending three years as a CIR in Ishikawa prefecture and then two years at CLAIR in Tokyo. The combination was perfect because I leant a lot about rural Japan initially and formed some really strong friendships, before moving to the big city and seeing a totally different side.
3. What have you been doing since finishing JET?
I have been working mainly in communications and marketing in financial services. I fell into a couple of roles that needed a Japanese speaker and then moved on from there. For the past three years I’ve worked at Lloyd’s insurer Canopius, where I head marketing and comms.
4. How do you think your current role can further UK-Japan ties?
Until a couple of weeks ago, that would have been easy to answer. But we just completed a management buyout of our company from the previous Japanese ownership (Sompo, who, funnily enough, historically provided insurance for JET Programme participants). So the real answer is, I don’t know at the moment! But I’m still known as one of the few non-native Japanese speakers in my company, so there’s still room for me to be a mini ambassador for Japan.
5. What are your professional and personal Japan-related goals?
I would love to maintain my Japanese connections professionally in some way but it’s going to be more of a personal connection for a little while I suspect. So, I want to make more effort at getting involved in Japan-related events and I will certainly keep being a cheerleader for the amazing country of Japan – I should get paid commission for how many people I’ve persuaded to visit for their holidays! My other goal is simply to get back for a visit soon. I haven’t been for ages and there is a little Japan-shaped hole in my heart...
6. What did you learn or discover during JET that you've taken into your life and career?
Never be afraid to ask the ‘stupid questions’. It took me a while in Japan to pluck up the courage not to just nod along and pretend I understood what was going on around me. Once I began to ask questions, it helped me understand better and participate more fully in what I was doing. That’s a lesson you can apply to anything.