Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Dr. Greg Story

Japan's Top Business Interviews is the premier business interview podcast for people who want to know more about business in japan. The guests cover a range of industries and organisation sizes, to present a thorough overview of issues with leading in Japan. If you are a leader, especialy someone leading in Japan, then this is the podcast for you.

79 Episodes

  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    79: Mario Spitzer, President & CEO, Stihl Japan


    Mr. Spitzer has extensive experience living and working in Japan. After a business trip to Japan in the early 1990’s he attended the European Union’s Executive Training Program (ETP) which had a heavy focus on Japanese language and management skills. It was through this course he was headhunted to become the President and CEO of Stoll in Japan. Fourteen years later, Mr. Spitzer moved in 2008 to become the CEO of the Japanese division for Stihl, a world leader in the manufacturing of chainsaws and outdoor power tools, a position he continues to hold today. Mr. Spitzer was also an Executive Member of the German Chamber of Commerce in Japan from 2012 to 2016.   In looking back over his almost 30 years of experience in Japan, Mr. Spitzer discusses some of the changes he has witnessed in the Japanese business environment including a reduced emphasis on ‘wining and dining’ customers and the shift to digital technologies in business. He also describes how he motivates his own teams; rather than leading through seniority alone he has tried to develop a respectful space where team members feel safe to develop and discuss ideas and not be afraid of failure. Mr. Spitzer admits this was not an easy process and it took a long time, but it has been worth the effort.   On the topic of challenges when moving from leading a small team to a much larger one, Mr. Spitzer emphasised that once a team gets over approximately 30 people, leaders can’t do everything themselves and they need trusted deputies. To build this required level of trust in his own organisation Mr. Spitzer goes to significant lengths to get to know all of his employees including calling them by name, knowing what is happening in their lives, wishing them happy birthday (even if it is on a weekend), and having an open-door policy to his employees in his office. Mr. Spitzer and his wife participate in company activities, and he like to think of the company as the ‘Stihl family’.   For foreign companies or professionals currently operating, in Japan, or looking to, Mr. Spitzer advises developing a real understanding of the local context rather than trying to implement a series of short-term projects which never get local support. He believes companies wanting to make change need; a sustainable concept, a clear vision with realistic targets, and to involve everybody in the process. With the right mindset and preparation, Mr. Spitzer believes success can happen in Japan as he views the Japanese market as very open-minded. On the topic of learning to speak Japanese, Mr. Spitzer has found it a very valuable skill in his own experience, but he does warn that there are times when a businessperson should use a translator including when they are not certain their Japanese will be correctly understood.
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    78: Michael King, President, SAS Institute


    Michael King shared great insight into how to become a successful business leader in Japan. Mr. King’s arrival in Japan may have been accidental but this did not stop him from having a long and prosperous career within Japan that has lasted 22 years. Despite originally being from Ohio, he began to work in the Asia Pacific 25 years ago within APAC in Sydney Australia before eventually moving to Japan as the General Manager for Sterling Commerce as Japan was the hot spot for business action and opportunity.   His time at Sterling was integral as it was his sink or swim moment. With no experience of business in Japan and leadership skills, he quickly adapted to the environment around him and began to grow and develop his skills. Mr. King began to understand the importance of hard work ethic. His work increased ethic allowed him to understand the sales process better and interact with Japanese business.   Despite not knowing the language at first, he did study, but he realised it was not necessarily important to know Japanese when working in Japan. Mr. King learnt that as a leader of a team to succeed, he needed to learn how to listen to his team and read the non-verbal cues his team would send his way and thus, developing trust.   After his time at Sterling and later Borland he became the President of Citrix Systems for 7 years which reinforced the necessity of listening to the team and creating trust. Through his experience as a leader, he came to Citrix knowing how he can grow the company, which he succeeded in doing. After a stagnant 5 years, he formed a vicious and successful sales team which led to the acceleration of revenue growth. Through this team, he learnt to become proactive and lead rather than sit and take orders which allowed the team to create widespread awareness of who Citrix are.   After his time at Citrix, he spent a year at Autodesk using his previous knowledge to help them change their business model to allow them to grow and increase revenue. While at Autodesk he learnt more about managing large groups of people and bridging the gap between the expectation of headquarters and the channels. After his short but fruitful year at Autodesk, he began working at the Japanese company Rakuten.   While at Rakuten Mr. King developed a more intense understanding of working in Japanese business and leading a team of 1200 people as the CIO. Mr. King had become interested in what it would be like as an end-user which drove him to Rakuten in combination with working for one of Japan’s best CEO’s and businessmen Hiroshi Mikitani. Mr. King learnt a variety of lessons at Rakuten such as using data to optimise customer experience and developing new solutions to problems. His time at Rakuten was the gap to where he is now at SAS as the President. At SAS he strives to drive the engagement of his team and consumers.   Mr. King’s 22-year long career in Japan has taught him a range of valuable lessons that have helped him become the successful businessman he is today. He claims that in order to succeed in Japan you need to understand that accountability, listening, and trust are integral.
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

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    77: Dr. Parissa Hagiharian, Professor of International Management, Sophia University


    Originally from Austria, Dr. Parissa Haghirian is a renowned expert on international and Japanese management. Her studies include a Masters in Japanese Studies, a Masters in International Management, and a PhD in Business Administration from the Vienna University of Economics and Business. She has been a visiting Professor of International Management to numerous universities, Adjunct Professor of Japanese Management at Keio University and WASEDA Business School and since 2015 is the Professor of International Management at Sophia University. Dr. Haghrian started learning Japanese when she was 19 and still takes lessons 30 years later. She recalls enjoying studying Japanese, but thought she needed to study something a bit more ‘practical’ and went to business school at the same time. This led to her first job at Kyushu Sangyo University as an Assistant Professor where she was the first foreign woman the university had hired. Dr. Haghirian believes that, even today, not enough foreign business leaders working in Japan speak Japanese and that there is much to be gained from speaking the Japanese language. According to Dr. Haghirian, communication is a significant point of difference between Japanese and Western cultures and something that foreigners living or working in Japan need to mindful of. In Western cultures Dr. Haghirian argues communication tends to be focused on the speaker trying to get information out with listeners free to do what they please with the information. This contrasts with Japan (and many Asian cultures) where Keigo, or honorific speech, means communication is dictated by the listener and a speaker must first assess who they are talking to and adapt their way of speaking. When discussing Western and Japanese team dynamics, Dr. Haghirian highlights the differences in responsibility and accountability. Western teams emphasise responsibility for individual tasks or roles, while Japanese teams emphasise the group’s responsibility. This can be challenging for cross-cultural team members and leaders, and she emphasises the importance of leaders working in Japan to not only understand their own leadership style but to also understand the ‘Japanese way’ of leadership which may have less executive power and relies on consensus building but carries enormous emotional weight with junior staff members. Talking from her extensive experience working in Japan, Dr. Haghirian believes that in Japan teams are most motivated when working together towards a common goal. She explains the goal should be clearly communicated to the team and should be one that allows the team to work collaboratively. Dr. Haghirian points out that the best way for managers to find out what works for their teams is to ask. Even in her work with university students, when asked if they would rather work alone or in groups her experience is that teamwork is the preferred option. Finally, when asked for final pieces of advice to foreigners coming to Japan to work, Dr. Haghirian offered; preparation by reading, asking as many questions as possible upon arrival, be mindful of the stresses in working overseas, and engage in self-reflection.  
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    76: Darren McKellin, Area Director Large Enterprise North Asia, Zscaler


    Darren McKellin shared great insight into how he became a leader through his journey to mindful leadership. Mr. McKellin’s choice to come to Japan was both one of economic strategy and love for international affairs after studying in both Mexico and Sweden during college. After college, Mr. McKellin joined the Japanese air cargo company Kintestsu located in Chicago. Through the directors’ brother, he was able to move to Japan as an English teacher in Yamanashi. After a year he moved to Omotesando to work at his old boss’s brothers’ company in Minami Aoyama where he worked for four years.   This was the beginning of his 30-year long career in Japan. At this company, Mr. McKellin learnt about sales and selling products to a Japanese consumer.  When he left this company after four years, he had one failing venture at Chrysler Japan but that did not stop him from persevering through a difficult time with macho management and a harsh environment to thrive him. Afterwards, he moved to sell ads for a computing magazine known as Japan Inc.   Through Japan Inc he was able to gain connections with various tech companies both large companies and small start-up companies. Through this opportunity selling ad space for the Japan Inc magazine, he learnt more about systems interrogation type of work. Through the gaining rise of technology and his gaining interest in the IT market, this would eventually be his last job outside the IT world. After Japan Inc. He would later join the tech company called Techno Box. This company was the first cloud serving within Japan which allowed him to learn more about managing a team of people. After this, he would move to World Com but they went bankrupt two years later.   After this stressful time, he gained a job at Vodafone. He did this through the power of intention which was an important part of his success. Mr. McKellin has gained an appreciation for intention and mindfulness when he read the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill as a young child at his grandfather’s house. The idea of mindfulness had become an integral part of Mr. McKellin’s life and the reason for his success.   At and after his time at Vodafone, he began to grow as a leader managing large teams of people at Oracle and later NetSuite. As a leader, he learnt how to use harmony, and patience as a way to motivate and lead his team to great success. Through his use of mindfulness and gaining inspiration from Google’s ‘search inside yourself’ program, he co-founded the Mindfulness Project at Oracle which helped improve the lives and mental health of employees. After his time at these two companies, he became the regional head of Zscaler.   Currently, through his ideals, he has helped the team at Zscaler grow at a tremendous speed. He has helped develop the team from five people to sixty. Which has also helped Zscaler become a top leading IT company which now has a $40 billion market cap. Not only has he helped Zscaler become a leading company he also wrote a book to help others. His book ‘Mind Over Sales’ is a revolutionary book that helps readers gain knowledge about how they should use mindfulness to develop a more fulfilling life and successful career. Mr. McKellin strives at helping other gain knowledge about seeking self-awareness, intention, and harmonization to gain effortless success in their life.
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    75: Tom Whitson, former Partner, KPMG Japan


    Originally from the US, Mr. Whitson’s background in Accounting, Japanese and Korean language opened him up to many opportunities in international business as a new graduate. After entering KPMG in 1975, Mr. Whitson was first assigned to work in Los Angeles to audit many Japanese companies that were entering the US market and American companies going to Japan. His clients included major companies such as Honda and Mazda Motor. Mr. Whitson then left for Korea and what was originally intended to be a short posting turned into over three years. Afterwards, Mr. Whitson went back to the US for a year in various types of training before becoming partner at KPMG Japan in Tokyo.   Mr. Whitson’s first few years as a junior staff in Korea allowed him to gain important accounting and client management experience. He had a supportive boss who enabled him to learn from his mistakes and learn how to handle difficult foreigner clients.   During his first years of leadership in Japan, Mr. Whitson quickly noticed how compared to other parts of the world, Japan values team work as opposed to being independent minded. Mr. Whitson has also noticed that certain Japanese people who have international experience act differently depending on the situation – in a more international environment, they will act outgoing and assertive whereas when surrounded by more Japanese people, they will become more consensus oriented and soft.   Hence, Mr. Whitson is careful to listen to those who are less vocal or are not fluent in English but are adding value to the organization and giving them recognition. He explains that active listening shows respect to the other party, which leads to trust. Not jumping to conclusions about people or things is important in Japan – which is a trap many foreign leaders fall into when first arriving. Moreover, giving challenging assignments with clear expectations and support is another way Mr. Whitson shows trust in his team. By delegating and providing more accountability to his staff, Mr. Whitson believes they will become more engaged in their work and the organization as a whole. When handling mistakes, Mr. Whitson is careful not to blame the person but instead focus on fixing the problem.   On innovation, Mr. Whitson says diversity is a key element in working with creativity. Upon setting up a transaction practice at KPMG, 60% of the hires Mr. Whitson made were women, which was a rare situation at the time when the organization was made up of 90% men. Mr. Whitson noticed that his female employees excelled in intervieweing their clients and understanding their needs and challenges to help them make informed decisions. Mr. Whitson has carried through this lesson in diversity and creativity into his other projects including the Japan Market Entry Committee.   To new foreign leaders coming to Japan, Mr. Whitson advises to have high cultural sensitivity. He adds, leaders should learn how Japanese society functions from various sources. Secondly, Mr. Whiston recommends learning some Japanese as it provides valuable insight into the way Japanese think and present ideas. Thirdly, Mr. Whitson advises to take time to get to know the Japanese team as in many cases, decisions are made through a longer process than compared to the west.   To Mr. Whitson leadership is about setting goals for the organization and communicating with people to help them contribute in the best way possible to achieve those goals.
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    74: Paul Kraft, Country Manager, HARIBO Japan


    Paul Kraft fell in love with Japan after a school trip in the early 90s and originally came to Japan to teach English in Osaka. Afterwards, he became involved in the food business in the US as a product and brand manager for a large privately held frozen food company. Mr. Kraft returned to Japan after being head hunted by Starbucks to open a consumer-packaged goods office in Tokyo. Mr. Kraft then moved on to become the head of HoneyBaked Ham, opening and managing the Japan office. In 2016, Mr. Kraft became the Commercial Director of Nestle Nespresso. Mr. Kraft most recently is the Japan Country Manager for HARIBO Asia Pacific since 2018.   Upon arriving in Japan to head the market entry of Starbucks into Japan, Mr. Kraft experienced many culture shocks and made many of the “classic mistakes.” He was first surprised with the way meetings were run in Japan in which discussions could take hours with no agenda. Mr. Kraft also realized his business partners’ priorities were different from his American counterparts. Mr. Kraft further notes the challenge of implementing new ideas as Japanese people tend to be risk averse and rely on past case studies. From these early leadership experiences, Mr. Kraft learned that allowing people to make mistakes was an integral part in creating a culture in which people would take more risks and innovate. He adds active listening is extremely important in order to understand employees and stakeholder needs and establish trust.   After Starbucks, Mr. Kraft joined Honeybaked Ham, an American food retailer with over 400 stores in the states. Although a well-established company in the US, Honeybaked Ham was still relatively unknown in Japan when he joined. Therefore, when recruiting new hires, Mr. Kraft put extra effort in persuading prospective employees on a particular story and even serving ham to them during interviews. Furthermore, the company was mostly run by free-lancers and Mr. Kraft enjoyed the entrepreneurial culture.   Mr. Kraft then moved to Nespresso as the Commercial Director, mainly managing clients in the hotel industry. As the leader of a large, globally renown company Mr. Kraft focused on having close communication with his team by holding weekly one-on-one meetings with his direct reports. Mr. Kraft recalls Nespresso had a very process-heavy approach to business and thus, he ensured to build an open communication environment.   Seeking a more entrepreneurial opportunity, Mr. Kraft then moved into his current position as the Country Manager for Haribo, the number one gummy producer in the world. As a historical and well-known company, Mr. Kraft explains that recruitment and persuading people to join the team is much easier than his previous lesser-known companies. Mr. Kraft is currently the solo employee of Haribo in Japan and acts as the middle person between the Japanese market and global organization. Mr. Kraft explains that when bringing in new ideas, he “divides and conquers” to persuade his stakeholders – in other words, he uses groundwork methods to make his implement his plans. Mr. Kraft also notes that explaining the background and reasoning behind his ideas and requests is important during such discussions.   For newcomers coming into Japan, Mr. Kraft advises to have close communication with team members through occasions such as weekly one-on-one meetings and to have a high “EQ radar.” Secondly, he advises to provide feedback to people which should be 90% positive. Thirdly, Mr. Kraft recommends people to try to learn Japanese, although they do not need to become fluent. Mr. Kraft finally notes that leadership is achieving the organization’s goal by maximizing the potential of one’s team.
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    73: Danny Risberg, President & General Manager, Baxter Limited Japan


    Growing up in California, Mr. Risberg has been an entrepreneur since high school and by his mid-20s he had already founded and sold a start-up company. His early success enabled him to move to Japan, which he had been interested in largely due to his half-Japanese roots, and invest in a series of companies in the health care industry. In 1999, Mr. Risberg joined Respironics (currently Philips Respironics) as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing and in 2005, became the President and CEO of Fuji Respironics. He then became the CEO of Philips Japan in 2009. Since 2018, Mr. Risberg has been the President and General Manager of Baxter Limited Japan.   Mr. Risberg’s earlier experience in his 20s working and learning from his mentors taught him much about running a business as well as gaining trust from local Japanese investors and business owners. During his time at Respironics group, Mr. Risberg successfully persuaded the CEO of a distributor to agree to an acquisition. Mr. Risberg was also successful in persuading the people at Respironics on the arrangement of the acquisition process. Mr. Risberg notes having empathy, passion, decisive decision-making abilities and determination helped him with such challenging stakeholder management. During disagreements he explained the importance of ensuring the other side understands the reason behind the conflict to try to find the middle ground.   Starting from a founder of a start-up company to heading a multinational conglomerate, Mr. Risberg has been a constant learner and active listener. When starting his position at Philips, Mr. Risberg asked one of the company board members to become his mentor to support him through the transition period. Mr. Risberg says at the centre, business is “all about the people, connections and communication” and forming a strong bond with more experienced leaders enabled him to access a wealth of knowledge and network he needed to understand the organization. He took on a similar approach when becoming the head of Baxter Japan and focused on bringing the company’s true value to the marketplace not just through the product but through systems and services and focusing on how to maximize employee engagement.   For new foreign leaders coming to Japan, Mr. Risberg firstly advises them to understand the company goal including their expectations, the reason behind them and the time frame. Secondly, he advises to learn from people and form trusting relationships. Thirdly, Mr. Risberg explains that Japan is a unique market and what seems to be a “crazy idea” could in fact add value – therefore, having a flexible mindset is essential. Lastly, Mr. Risberg recommends anybody coming to Japan to put in the effort in learning the language as he believes this will be appreciated by the local employees, customers and market.
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    72: Shinzo Yotsumoto, Senior Counselor, Kiduki Architect & ex Managing Director, Schaeffler Japan


    Shinzo Yotsumoto shared great insight from his extensive leadership career in the manufacturing industry in various multinational companies including Japan, the US, France and Germany. After graduating from Waseda University, Mr. Yotsumoto entered Kobe Steel where his manager inspired him to work overseas. He worked in the German operation of Kobe Steel from 1985 to 1989 which he recalls as a life changing experience and calls Germany his second home. Mr. Yotsumoto was then head hunted to become the Key Account Executive for Michelin Japan working with Toyota for 12 years. Mr. Yotsumoto then moved on to TRW Automotive Japan as a Representative Director, and then to Schaeffler Japan as the Managing Director. After retiring from a full-time permanent position, Mr. Yotsumoto worked as an Advisor to Roland Berger and then most recently as Senior Counselor to Kiduki Architect.   Having managed several multinational companies, Mr. Yotsumoto found that each country and company has a very different culture and working style. Working in Germany where employees were more vocal in their opinions, Mr. Yotsumoto found a need to communicate and understand his counterpart on a deeper level. Mr. Yotsumoto found this a challenge but an eye-opening experience coming from Japan where people mainly followed instructions. Mr. Yostumoto experienced this firsthand when he moved from Kobe Steel to Michelin. He noticed that the leaders were dedicated to the philosophy of the company to develop tires for a wide range of customers and pushed employees to be equally committed to their vision. Leadership at Michelin encouraged open discussions and welcomed differences in ideas. Mr. Yotsumoto himself, who recalls not being too vocal with his opinions in a Japanese company to become more open and speak up in this new engaging environment.   After Michelin, Mr. Yotusmoto joined TRW Automotive’s Japan operation as their country manager, leading a team of 250 people. Since the company had just gone through M&A, Mr. Yotsumoto’s major task was to bring all the different business units together to create a “one-team atmosphere.” He began by interviewing all 250 of his employees to understand their desires and expectations and how to bring them towards a single direction. This enabled the business units to deliver consistent, united messaging to their Japanese manufacturing partners such as Toyota, which helped create more trust and strengthen the reputation of TRW. Mr. Yotsumoto found that listening to his team and taking quick action based on their input helped him gain trust from his team. For example, Mr. Yotsumoto convinced the American headquarter of TRW to create an R&D Centre in Japan. This action showed his Japanese employees that the US headquarter will listen to the needs of the Japanese customers, which boosted team engagement.   Mr. Yotsumoto was then head hunted to Schaeffler in 2012 as their Japan operation’s Representative Director, leading a team of 300 people. At Schaeffler, Mr. Yotsumoto also held group meetings to listen to his employees and there, he understood that people were ready to embrace change. He encouraged his team from the bottom-up to speak up more to German headquarters on how to grow the business with Japanese customers and provide technical solutions and invest in the local engineering capability.   Working in a multinational corporation, Mr. Yotsumoto says the key to success is to have a sense of curiosity and a desire to further understand stakeholder needs. When faced with a conflict in opinion, Mr. Yotsumoto asks further questions to try to understand why the difference exists. In monthly meetings, Mr. Yotsumoto would pose as a role model by asking simple questions or admitting his mistakes. In doing so, he hopes to create a psychologically safe atmosphere for others to voice their opinions. Mr. Yotsumoto believes that leadership is a “positive influencer” of an organization that creates an atmosphere that encourages people to take on challenges and continue to grow.   To newcomers leading in Japan, Mr. Yostumoto recommends understanding the needs of the Japanese customers to gain trust. In order to build trust, Mr. Yostumoto emphasizes honesty, consistency and accountability. He notes: “we need to sometimes say no to Japanese customers. That's good, but we need to explain why. So that kind of [honest] conversation and explanation can create trust with the customers.” Lastly, Mr. Yotsumoto advises newcomers to “enjoy” Japan including the uncomfortable situations and take it as a learning opportunity.
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    71: Paul Atkinson, Representative Director, Country Manager Japan, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions


    Paul Atkinson shares his journey as a leader of a multinational global insurance company and his insight in working in diverse cultural environments. Originally growing up in the UK, Mr. Atkinson joined RSA Insurance after graduating from university. Mr. Atkinson was attracted to the people aspect of insurance built on trust and integrity. Having worked in London for five years, Mr. Atkinson was posted in the Bahamas for two years before moving to Japan. After five years in Japan working for Royal Insurance, Mr. Atkinson move to Hong Kong and then to Taiwan where he continued to build his career within the insurance industry. In 2003 Mr. Atkinson returned to Japan and has been living in the country since then. After working as an executive search consultant, Mr. Atkinson went back to insurance and ran a direct marketing consultancy. Mr. Atkinson has been Head of Corporate Sales at AIG and is currently the Representative Director, Country Manager of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.   Through his experience of working in multiple countries, Mr. Atkinson has learned the power of diversity and inclusion in management. Having managed both male and female dominated teams and faced its challenges, Mr. Atkinson has worked to bring more balance to his organizations by forming diversity and inclusion employee resource groups. Mr. Atkinson explains this has been a wonderful way for him to connect with people outside of his immediate leadership. Although Mr. Atkinson points out the prevailing gender gap in management positions in Japan, he sees a potential of talented people with diverse backgrounds and different ways of thinking to bring change.   In order to increase team engagement, Mr. Atkinson treats people with respect without being judgmental. Mr. Atkinson spends a third of his time speaking to people including those outside of his direct report. As his leadership style is delegation based, Mr. Atkinson understands the need to develop a culture of trust that enables people to step up and make key decisions. To encourage this, Mr. Atkinson sets up a clear vision and goal, and consistently communicates his expectations to his team. He also holds multiple discussions at various levels of the organization. Although Mr. Atkinson realizes this process is much more time-consuming than just giving out directions, he believes the final product is of much higher quality. He additionally encourages multiple departments to work together cross-functionally to create a culture of open communication and innovation. Mr. Atkinson also points out that following up and having regular check-ins with people is essential for ensuring that the delegation is happening.   To newcomers coming to lead in Japan, Mr. Atkinson recommends talking to all team members in order get a sense of where to focus on in terms of improvement, be it in staffing, communication or strategy. He also advises to buy some time from head office – at least three months – before doing a 90-100 day report as this initial communication aspect is essential. Mr. Atkinson recommends people to learn some Japanese to understand the culture and show genuine interest. Lastly, Mr. Atkinson encourages newcomers to find a hobby and enjoy the beautiful culture and sites in Japan.
  • Japan's Top Business Interviews Podcast By Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan podcast

    70: Antony Cundy, former President, McCann Worldgroup Japan


    70: Antony Cundy, former President, McCann Worldgroup Japan Antony Cundy, former CEO & President of McCann Worldgroup Japan first arrived in Japan in the mid-90s to teach English and completed his Post-Graduate Studies at Tokyo University. Through connections, he landed a role in a Toyota subsidiary working on marketing Lexus. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Cundy started working at Hakuhodo Lintas working with large global consumer brands. Mr. Cundy then became general manager at DDB’s Japan office and then moved to London to lead the strategy and account services. Mr. Cundy then became head of planning and account services for Beacon Communications. In 2016, Mr. Cundy joined McCann Worldgroup.   During his first few years of leadership, Mr. Cundy admits he “did not do a good job” as he found it challenging to engage and motivate his team to work towards a set vision and goal. Through experience, he realized being clear and consistent with his messaging and communication was crucial to lead the team. “You have to tell people as realistically and in as much detail as you can, this is what we're going to do. This is what I expect, everyone. This is your job. Make sure that people understand that at their level they're expected to do this.” Moreover, he highlights the need to communicate not just to one’s direct report but to people at all sections of the organization.   As the strategic and account lead for DDB in London, Mr. Cundy worked to build client relationships across vast markets in Europe. There, he found that people worked like a “steam train” in which people kept running ahead but did not look back to evaluate their work. As a martial arts enthusiast, Mr. Cundy values Zanshin 残心 meaning remaining mind, or having a state of awareness once something has occurred. Therefore, Mr. Cundy put a stronger system in place to be able to evaluate the team’s work and create templates to improve future performance. As Mr. Cundy matured into his leadership role, he explains delegating became much smoother for him. When he trusts his team to deliver on their own instead of relying on him to provide all the answers, Mr. Cundy found that the team started to trust him back and became more accountable to their work.   On his advice to foreign leaders coming to Japan, Mr. Cundy recommends talking to all levels of people in the organization to get a wholesome picture of the company. Secondly, he emphasizes the diversity of the Japanese market, as the North and South of Japan have very different needs. As the leader, Mr. Cundy says one should be making sure every level and every part of the business understands these differences. Thirdly, Mr. Cundy notes clarity and consistency in communication, and being oneself is important. Lastly, he explains: “you have to believe in the fundamentals of your business plan. You have to have some flexibility. You're not going to achieve it through a straight line, but you should never take yourself away from it because the Japanese are saying, that's going to be tough. If you're there for the mission you need to deliver on the mission, you just got to realize that it's not going to be as straight as you think.” Breaking News: Tony has just been announced as the new Vice President Marketing and Communications at Cartier.

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