February 24, 2010,09:08 +0900(JST) Global Manager Development Program

In mid-February we organized a four-day training program, inviting local executives of our affiliated overseas companies to Japan. I also wrote about last year’s Global Manager Development Program in the blog.

A scene from the last day’s partyThis year we had 16 trainees from 11 countries: Australia, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Morocco, Poland, Thailand, UK and USA. I personally took part in the Program by giving a talk to the participants, attending the welcome party on the second day and listening to participants’ reports on the last day. The welcome party was extended to a second round, and the party on the last day was equally pleasant and enjoyable. I believe that this program helped shorten the psychological distance between the Head Office in Japan and the participants’ companies.

The Global Manager Development Program involves more than simply listening to lectures or going on field trips. The participants are given themes relating to the entire Sumitomo Electric Group, on which they must deliberate in two groups and report on the last day. Each year I look forward to these reports, and the suggestions made, with great interest.

Group photoThis year’s themes were "how to secure excellent human resources" and "how to enhance group consciousness and motivation." The two groups made proposals regarding the clarification of career paths and the importance of corporate branding. I found these proposals very well thought out, and I was strongly impressed and encouraged by the participants’ serious attitude. An active question and answer session also took place, as well as a deep and sincere exchange of ideas among those present. I expect that those suggestions will be effectively integrated into various future measures.

The Sumitomo Electric Group is a rapidly globalizing company: about 40% of our sales come from outside Japan, and over 100,000 of the Group’s consolidated employee population of 150,000 are non-Japanese.

As for future world market trends, it is certain that China, India and other newly emerging economies will achieve the greatest growth. Europe and North America, although in a difficult situation at the moment, still represent a huge developed market and cannot be ignored. As for Japan, its relative importance continues to diminish. For us Japanese, it is becoming necessary to adopt the way of viewing Japan in a larger worldwide context, and act accordingly.

Speaking of Japanese in connection with the Global Manager Development Program, which is targeted at overseas executives, there are still some Japanese who have difficulty engaging in fluent conversations with overseas participants, although a growing number of our Japanese personnel are quite capable in this area. The Program also reminded me of the importance of training for Japanese human resources if we are to stay on the scene as a global player.

February 15, 2010,08:56 +0900(JST) Kansai Economic and Management Summit

On February 4 and 5, the 48th Kansai Economic and Management Summit was held in Kyoto on the theme "Kansai as Leader of the Times – Resourceful and Flexible." Members of the governmental, industrial and academic sectors gathered together to discuss economic recovery, relationship between central and local governments, environment, globalization, regional revitalization and corporate management, in seven sessions.

A scene from the SummitI participated in Session 6 (strategic corporate management) in the afternoon of February 4. The session, chaired by Mr. Akio Ogura, Chairman of Bando Chemical Industries, featured four speakers: Mr. Masayuki Oku, President of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation; Mr. Hiroyuki Suzuki, President of Maruichi Steel Tube Ltd.; Professor Kazuo Hiramatsu of Kwansei Gakuin University, who is also one of Sumitomo Electric’s external board members; and myself.

The purpose of Session 6 was to discuss management reforms for mid-term reinforcement of competitiveness and corporate breakthrough measures amid the world economic crisis, as well as corporate tax systems and international accounting standards that affect business management. Since my role in this session was to begin a discussion on corporate management strategies for mid-term growth, I talked about Sumitomo Electric Group’s management strategies and challenges to mid-term growth.

I began my talk by describing the business goals included in our five-year plan "VISION 2012," to be achieved by fiscal year 2012 (3 trillion yen in sales, 210 billion yen in operating income and 10% ROE). I then discussed our policy measures for achieving these goals: (1) solidification of the corporate constitution, mainly through reinforcement of manufacturing capability, (2) global market expansion, mainly into Asia and other newly emerging economies, and (3) development of new business segments, mainly through reinforced R&D in environmental and energy sectors-taking advantage of our core technology-as well as other future-oriented sectors.

About 50 participants in Session 6 took part in the active exchange of opinions on employment, human resource development, necessity of corporate alliance for overseas expansion and so on. The exchange confirmed the general view that key future management strategies reside in reinforced competitiveness that draws on Japan’s traditional excellence in manufacturing, as well as on the exploration of Asian and other newly emerging markets.

The Summit served as yet another occasion to confirm the business community’s great interest in the environmental sector in the face of the increasingly conspicuous resource and energy problems, as well as China, India and other newly emerging economies at this major turning point triggered by the worldwide recession since late 2008. At the same time, the Summit was a typical Kansai forum, where independent-minded participants frankly exchanged their views.

SUMITOMO ELECTRIC President CEO Masayoshi Matsumoto

Born in 1944 in Hyogo Prefecture, Masayoshi Matsumoto joined Sumitomo Electric in 1967. After serving as General Manager of Chubu District Office, Managing Director and Senior Managing Director, he assumed office of President and CEO in June 2004.

His leisure activities include jogging, reading and art appreciation. Also a seasoned athlete, he played baseball in junior high school and practiced judo in senior high school. In university, he threw the javelin competitively and participated in all-Japan inter-university competitions.

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