September 2003 - J@pan Inc Magazine (English Only)


“Searching for the Perfect Manager“

Author: “John Dodd”


Foreign companies in Japan need advanced technology, IP assets and, especially, solid employees: bilingual, bicultural and driven to succeed. But does such a "perfect" combination exist?


DESPITE A SHORT POST-IRAQ war market recovery that saw the Nikkei stock index peak at 9,990 (closing level) in July this year, the rally has since faltered, and Japanese consumers continue to keep their purses closed and either pay down their debts or set aside some savings for an uncertain future. Managers of Japanese and foreign companies all over Japan are now faced with the reality that there is going to be no easy return to reasonable profits -- and that improving the business is going to be through single-minded focus on the key internal issues of staff performance, technical assets and execution of the business, plus brand power or intellectual property rights.


Is Japan a basket case for foreign companies, or is there still hope? The answer is that for those companies that understand the changes taking place, the pickings are still good. After a substantial set back two years ago, IT companies are once again starting to see business growth -- particularly in the ERP, CRM, and SCM industries -- so long as they can save their Japanese clients’ money. The typical savings resulting from a small- to medium-sized ERP implementation is about 10 to 20 percent due to the inherent costs of running a company in the Japanese style. Thus, if the client is doing $100 million or more in sales, then even a 10 percent cost saving is a huge benefit to the bottom line and worth the investment in the software.


The key to successful recruiting online is a combination of exposure, brand name (of your company) and proper presentation of your vacancies. As Richard Bysouth, CEO of CareerCross, a leading bilingual Internet job site, points out, "I am often asked what makes the difference between an effective recruitment campaign and an unsuccessful one. Of course, there are many reasons, but one of the most important things to remember is that a well-written job description, posted in both English and Japanese, will generally receive the most appropriate replies. The best applicants, especially Japanese nationals, want to know as much about a position and the company as possible -- after all, if they are good at their job, they are generally well looked after and will only make a move if they feel it will be a good career move."