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Connecting with the World from Bangladesh —The Job of a Trade Professional is Full of Challenges Every Day

Sumitomo Corporation operates diverse businesses and boasts a network of offices in 66 countries and regions. One key focus for us is hiring and developing global talent, which enables us to take on the challenge of creating new values. This article provides a glimpse into a month of the work life of Monia Afsana, Senior Executive, Metal and Steel Department of Sumitomo Corporation Asia & Oceania. We asked Monia, who works in the company’s Dhaka Office in Bangladesh, about her work values and her current responsibilities. Monia says, "I believe in working hard."

This content was originally published in November 2023.

Senior Executive, Metal and Steel Department
100SEED Project Leader
Dhaka Office

Monia Afsana

Leveraging Knowledge of International Business in an integrated trading and business investment company

I joined Sumitomo Corporation Asia & Oceania Pte. Ltd.’s liaison office in Bangladesh in 2019. After joining, I started working in the Steel and Metal Department, which oversees supplying raw materials such as Electrolytic Tin Plate, Hot Rolled Coil, Cold Rolled Coil, Galvanized Iron, and Galvalume to the Bangladesh market mainly from Japan and Taiwan. We have a large loyal customer base including some of the biggest conglomerates in Bangladesh. Besides my regular job, I am also involved in other projects at our office. This year, I am involved with the Dhaka office’s 100SEED Project (*1), which is very close to my heart. In addition, I am working in the D&I team to promote diversity in terms of culture and nationality.

*1. Sumitomo Corporation Group’s CSR project with employee participation. SEED stands for Sumitomo Corporation Group: Emergent, Evolutional, Deed.

My Workplace

I graduated from the University of Dhaka, which is one of the most reputed public universities in Bangladesh. I completed a BBA and MBA in international business. During my BBA course, I did an internship with the Board of Investment (currently the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority). After I completed my MBA, I joined Sumitomo Dhaka Office because I wanted to work at an international trading company that has diversified businesses across the world. As I studied International Business, it was a great opportunity for me to work in an organization which is related to my academic background.
I have been working in the Metal and Steel Department more than four years, and I am enjoying my work to the fullest. I am also interested in developing new business ideas, so last year I participated in the 0→1 Challenge2 program. One thing I love about Sumitomo is that it gives us lots of scope to interact and collaborate with overseas business. I believe that since we spend most of our time at work, we should enjoy it.

*2. An in-house startup incubation program launched in 2018 with the concept of “creating a next-generation business (One) from unprecedented new ideas (Zero).”

Driving a Broad Range of Projects: From Solving Customer Issues to Implementing CSR Activities

4Week Schedule

1st: Weekly internal meeting with the Steel and Metal Department
2nd: Visiting a customer’s factory in Chittagong (Chattogram)
3rd: Attending a business networking event
4th: Leading the Dhaka Office’s 100SEED Project

1st Week: Weekly internal meeting with the Steel and Metal Department

We have weekly internal meetings with all team members to review our business and action plans to achieve departmental goals. This meeting is very effective for keeping the whole team on the same page.

IoT Training team at SCAO office in Singapore

2nd Week: Visiting a customer’s factory in Chittagong (Chattogram)

As a part of my regular work, I often visit the factories of our valuable customers who manufacture different kinds of steel products. These visits help us to understand their factory operations, supply chain management, challenges, and working methods so that we can better support them. It also helps to strengthen our bonds with customers and enrich our knowledge.

Visiting automobile factory

Port of Chittagong (Chattogram)

3rd Week: Attending a business networking event—Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Japan-Bangladesh Diplomatic Relations

I recently attended a networking program titled “Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Japan-Bangladesh Diplomatic Relations,” which was organized by the Japanese Commerce and Industry Association in Dhaka (JCIAD) and the Japan Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCI).

4th Week: Leading the Dhaka Office’s 100SEED Project

This year, I am involved with the Dhaka Office’s 100SEED Project. We have signed an MOU with Ekmattra Society, an NGO, in order to implement action plans. We are working with the NGO to support underprivileged children by donating education supplies, teaching virtual classes, and spending special event with them.

MOU Signing Ceremony for 100SEED Project (November 13, 2022)

100SEED Project’s New Year Celebration Program with Unprivileged Children

Never Give Up Even in Difficult Situations: Motivators for Working with Proactivity and Enthusiasm

My Passion

Over the last year, we have faced many difficulties due to the covid pandemic, but I worked with team to figure out a strategy for meeting our year-end targets. When we succeeded, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I believe in working hard and always giving one hundred percent. I believe that hard work and perseverance will help me achieve greater professional success. I also feel that aligning the company’s vision and values with my own is one way to achieve that. The taste of success after a failure is what keeps the fire going within me, no matter what the circumstances.
I try to maintain a sense of ownership, both in my own work and my overall work environment, and always seek out opportunities to contribute to other projects. Every day brings something new and different, and those surprises motivate me. I’m grateful to our great leaders who inspire me to be passionate and to love my job.

My Motivation

Helping and empowering people is what motivates me the most. Whether a colleague, friend or relative, everyone needs help from time to time, and I relish the opportunity to reach out to such people. It gives me a sense of confidence and belief that I can be of some help. Lending a helping hand is about making the person feel upbeat, energetic, and positive. One of my biggest motivations is my family. They are my biggest source of inspiration and my strongest supporters as well. My family has taught me to never give up, even when the job is tough.

My Holiday

I love spending holidays with family and friends. I also love traveling to new places, seeing new things, and trying adventurous activities like hiking, parasailing, kayaking, and fishing. Taking a break from work and spending time with my family helps to relax my mind and soul.

Parasailing at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

Kayaking with my husband

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