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Co-op student charts new course at computer giant

As computing giant IBM has grown, it has expanded dramatically in places around the globe. But in countries like the Philippines, the company grew so quickly that some of its key corporate documents, like charts that track the structure and responsibilities of each of its employees, were never updated to match the new normal.

But last year that responsibility fell to Shuntaro Okuzawa, a senior who will graduate in May with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering. He spent six months on co-op in the Philippines, working for IBM to study and chart its existing corporate structure.

“I was looking at everything from individual processes to entire departments from a bird’s eye view,” said Okuzawa.

In June, the Japan native will relocate to Seattle, where he’s already accepted a position with Amazon.com’s supply-chain finance team. His responsibilities will include looking at how the massive online merchant can more efficiently deliver goods to its customers around the globe.

“My work is all about looking at the bigger picture, what individual tasks fit into a day-to-day operation,” Okuzawa said. “You start with a lot of outdated documents and, through a series of focus groups and a lot of study, you start to figure out what people are doing and where they fit into the broader system.”

Okuzawa’s work allowed IBM to identify areas where the business could improve, creating an opportunity to view operations on a more macro level than ever before. He created an online framework to track changes and discuss operations, identifying key points of contact for future changes or clarifications.

At Northeastern, Okuzawa is president of Tau Beta Pi, an honor society that admits the university’s top engineering students with the goal of creating opportunities for community service and professional development.

“We have some very accomplished students here at Northeastern, and it’s my job to recruit and recognize those who are not only doing outstanding things in academics, but also in their extracurricular fields,” Okuzawa said.