Oracle Professional Asian Leadership (OPAL), a community with 27 chapters and 4,000 members worldwide, focuses on inspiring unity through inclusive leadership and mentorship. With that goal in mind, we recently profiled several extraordinary Oracle women across our JAPAC region, each of whom shared the best advice they’ve drawn from their own career and personal experiences. From Oracle Korea’s first female field engineer to an active LGBTQ+ advocate in Japan, hear how these women are challenging long-held societal norms and what they have learned about leadership, success, and being a role model.
When Midori Kawamukai was a young girl in Japan suffering from asthma, she closed off the world around her, embracing the characters in the books she read as her only friends. Kawamukai eventually grew out of both her illness and extreme introversion, but they taught her a lesson she carries with her today in her battle against breast cancer and her overall approach to life: embrace your vulnerability.
Openness is a recurring theme with Kawamukai in her private and professional lives—being open to embracing people with or from different backgrounds, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, or health conditions. Likewise, friends and colleagues tend to open up to and confide in her as well, she says.
“Transparency is key,” she says. “I don’t say it’s the key to success, because success has a lot of meanings, but building a safer environment for myself and for everyone's sake is the essence to building better relationships and easier communications.”
When KyungHee Lee joined Oracle Korea in 1993, as the country unit’s first female field engineer, there were exceptionally few women in Korea’s IT industry. She made a name for herself on that core database team, later becoming Oracle Korea’s first female director as she started ascending the company ranks into senior application, customer-facing, and technical consulting roles.
What advice does Lee offer to young women looking to pursue a career in technology, a field that’s still very much male-dominated in Korea? First, she says, understand that your career is a marathon, not a sprint. It will be full of challenges that may change, divert, or delay your goals, so go into your career with that mindset. Don’t get discouraged along the way. Second, you’re not alone. Seek advice from your female managers and colleagues, as well as from friends and family members who have been in your shoes. Third and most important, stay true to yourself and confident in your abilities.
After working for seven years as a project manager for several tech companies in Bengaluru, India, Arthi Vijay decided in late 2019 to leave her job to spend a few quality months with her parents in Coimbatore, about 360 kilometers to the south. With a PMP certification and diverse experience, Vijay figured she could find a choice position in no time once she was ready to return to the workforce.
Then COVID-19 disrupted everyone’s best-laid plans. Fewer companies were hiring, and a full-time return to Bengaluru, hit particularly hard by the pandemic, wasn’t an ideal option. During that time, Vijay put her project management skills to work as a UN volunteer. In July 2021, she decided to reenter the workforce, but she worried about the transition to the next chapter of her career.
As luck would have it, Oracle’s HR team in India had just started a program called Career Relaunch, whose mission is to help female job applicants who had taken a break from work get reacclimated to the workforce. Following a series of interviews, she landed a position at Oracle as a program manager in the company’s Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) division. She went through the usual company onboarding orientation, augmented by Career Relaunch sessions with 22 other women who had also taken breaks from their careers for various reasons.
“They were making sure that we were all prepared mentally to reenter the workforce after a gap,” Vijay says. “I think we all had those self-doubts, and those sessions helped us course through.”
Alex Chan is a writer for Oracle. She was previously a reporter for The Orange County Register and subsidiaries of the Los Angeles Times.