Bridging the Gap Between the Far East and West

Aloha from Hawai’i! At the publication of this blog entry, Reid Middleton is beginning a new journey into the Far East and is fortunate to assist a client with a project in Japan. Shown on the map below are the team’s office locations, with the Hawai’i office centrally-located to help “Bridge the Gap.”

When referring to “Bridging the Gap” as mentioned in the title, it doesn’t refer only to the distance and time gaps as seen in the graphic, but also the disparity in cultural and business philosophies, which, at times, are more challenging. In an engineering consultant firm, engineering design is only side of the equation, and there are many other things to consider in maintaining operations. The distance and time gaps usually can be handled with current technologies, but in regards to the other disparities, people play an integral role.

Connecting Despite Disparities

It’s been approximately two years since the opening of the Hawai’i office, and I must admit it has been a learning experience for me, especially since I had been away from my Hawai’i home so long. I came home to be with the rest of my ‘Ohana (family) and genuinely hoped to help the people of Hawai’i. Throughout these two years, we have been blessed to help clients with projects in Hawai’i. As a result, I have observed the work environment of the Architectural/Engineering/Contractor industry from a business perspective.

A combination of the following factors has helped me connect with all sorts of people and cope with the disparities mentioned above.

  1. Being born into a multi-racial (Japanese, Hawaiian, Chinese & Spanish) family, in a place called Waimalu, an ahupua’a (subdivision of land) located in Aiea on the island of O’ahu;
  2. Being raised by many people;
  3. Being influenced and touched by many people who taught me life lessons;
  4. Having moved away to the mainland for school; and
  5. Working at the 61-year-old Reid Middleton Inc. for the past 15 years.

A Mission to Work Across Cultures

Some of what drew me to Reid Middleton was its culture and people, which helps make it a little easier to bridge the gap between the east and west.

Our mission statement is, “We earn long-term partnerships with our clients by translating their needs into successful projects and by assuring that the experience of working together is as successful as the project itself.” The “working together” part is a key component to bridging the gap, but sometimes there may be underlying obstacles that are out of our control, which occasionally results in conflict. In times of conflict, I suggest we listen to one another and take the time to understand each other and communicate to resolve the issue at hand. Conflict can bring about new and brilliant ideas.

Reid Middleton believes in accountability, integrity, equality, honesty, and sincerely cares for people and the environment we live in. We strive to plan and design in a principled manner because we are conscious of not compromising the firm’s integrity. These are some of the cultural aspects that drew me to stay with the firm when making the move back to Hawai’i, and they resonate with people from other cultures.

One-Team Philosophy

I strongly believe that through engineering, bridging the gap is possible. Engineers are typically willing to learn and work together on accomplishing engineering tasks to help improve the quality of life for people. Bridging the gap between the Far East and West can be accomplished no matter the cultural and business differences, if we involve the right people, listen, take the time to understand each other from both perspectives, learn, and create (engineer), as One Team. Reid Middleton will continue to learn and respectfully work toward forming a long-term partnership with this client and our Japanese-based colleagues.

To “engineer,” means to contrive, devise, invent, or design, which is what I enjoy about the field. Usually, an engineer has a sense of curiosity and questions things; sometimes this does not go over very well with clients. Not one person knows everything, and I believe there is always something to learn and always room for improvement. Most engineers enjoy solving the puzzles that may exist in a given task and, without question or sense of reason, it probably will not be solved. The following are some related food-for-thought quotes: