July 31, 2014,15:49 +0900(JST) 10th Anniversary of Executive Training Program

At the end of last week, in order to attend the kick-off meeting of an executive training program Action Learning, I stayed at our seminar facility on Mt. Ikoma, on the border between Osaka and Nara Prefectures. The program was launched in 2005, marking its 10th anniversary this year. The program annually draws 40 to 50 executive managers from our various divisions and our domestic and foreign affiliated companies. More than 400 people in total have participated in the program so far.

Although the program certainly includes a several-day lecture-oriented seminar, the main part is a half-year activity called “action learning.” In this session, participants are divided into teams, each consisting of five to six persons. The teams are required to work on provided themes regarding actual management, and to submit solutions. Since participants are divided into teams randomly on purpose, many of them need to struggle with themes that are outside their fields. There has been no change in this style since the program was first launched.

Giving a lecture to participants.

It is difficult to explain this program’s specific effects. However, there are quite a few of proposals and ideas incorporated into our management policies directly or indirectly. In addition, since many participants tend to consider issues only from their divisions’ perspectives, the program is very effective in helping them to learn about the situation of the entire Sumitomo Electric Group and to share the group’s management challenges.

What types of proposals will the nine teams this year submit? Based on my past experience, proposals that were completed after much legwork were most convincing. Some proposals were helpful enough to provide management with new perspectives (even though proposals may have hit sore spots). At the start of this year, I requested all company staff members to realize the idea of “creative destruction.” I hope that this year’s teams come up with many bold ideas that will help achieve this idea. I look forward to hearing the teams’ presentations at the end of the year.

July 28, 2014,11:35 +0900(JST) Chinese G-katsu Winner Groups Visit Japan

In my previous blog post, I wrote about the G-katsu presentations and improvement activity award ceremony (G-katsu event) held on July 17. In the morning of the same day, I received a courtesy visit of the two winning groups of all-China group activity competitions (all-China G-katsu competitions).

With members from Sumitomo Electric Optical Components (Wuxi) Co., Ltd. and Wuhan Sumiden Wiring Systems Co., Ltd.

Although it might sound a little confusing, while a G-katsu event is held as a competition among our business units, all-China G-katsu competitions, launched in China in 2007, take place as an area competition among our affiliated companies located in China. The latter serves as a good opportunity for companies in the area to work hard in friendly rivalry. Since China is a vast country and there are many affiliated companies there, an all-China G-katsu competition is held in the two regions of East China and South China. The top group in each competition is invited to Japan to observe the G-katsu event held in Japan.

Since the Sumitomo Electric Group develops businesses in a wide variety of fields, it is not unusual for us to have several companies established by different business units in one country. Even though located geographically close to each other, however, such companies have unexpectedly few opportunities to have contact with one another on a daily basis, mainly due to differences in their business units. The all-China G-katsu competitions help our local staff members realize how widely the Sumitomo Electric Group develops businesses, and also serve as an opportunity to foster interaction among group companies. A similar area event - though small in size - was launched in Indonesia in 2011. I hope that such an event will take place in other regions as well.

Although I have never attended an all-China G-katsu competition, I heard that the total number of companies giving presentations at the events held in East China and South China is around 20, and the number of audience members is approximately 200. I also heard that each event features high-level presentations every time. I look forward to attending the events sometime in the future.

July 28, 2014,10:20 +0900(JST) Flag of Best President Award Crosses the Sea

On July 17, I attended our group activity (G-katsu) presentations and improvement activity award ceremony. This is an event to encourage our staff members to perform small-group activities and improvement activities across the Sumitomo Electric Group. In the presentations session, seven groups representing their business units or other organizations demonstrated the results of their activities. While sometimes referring to difficulties they had experienced, they spoke about their efforts regarding various themes such as eliminating defects, decreasing facility shutdown time, cutting out unnecessary processes, and reducing the amount of waste material.

With winners of the Best President Award

All the presentations indicated that members had worked hard to exert their originality and ingenuity and had made untiring efforts based on the philosophy of the Three Actuals: examining actual sites, actual products, and actual situations. Although there was a fierce debate among panel members regarding which group should win the Best President Award, eventually Hui Zhou Zhurun Wiring Systems Co., Ltd. (China) [HZR], which participated in the event representing the automobile unit, was selected.

Small-group activities and QC circles are a forte of Japanese companies -- but this belief is the thing of the past. Actually, at our foreign affiliated companies, group activities are carried out more and more actively, with their level steadily increasing. HZR demonstrated an excellent result, as explained in the company’s easy-to-understand presentation that staff members gave in an impressive manner. As a result, the flag of the Best President Award crossed the sea for the first time. I feel very satisfied with the result from the perspectives of globalization and diversity. Of course, I hope that Japanese members will also make further efforts in friendly rivalry, and that groups from other countries also work hard to be selected as representatives of their business units and to win the Best President Award. I believe that this will eventually raise the level of the entire Sumitomo Electric Group. I also hope that, like the World Cup, this event will become even more international.

At the casual party after the event. Ms. Shu (next to me), an HZR presentation member, had joined the company this day seven years ago. In her speech, she said that she was delighted beyond description to have won the special award on her special day.

A group from Sumitomo Electric Sintered Alloy, Ltd. was very close to winning the Best President Award. A special award from the president was granted to the group. The event secretariat seemed confused with the sudden decision made by the panel of judges to newly establish the special award. However, a happening like this may be sometimes good.

July 18, 2014,11:20 +0900(JST) The World Cup Has Ended

After nearly a month, the World Cup Soccer has come to an end.

Before the event, anti-World Cup rallies in Brazil and delays in venue preparation were widely reported. Once the event began, however, it seemed the entire world was taken over by the games. Although I’m not sure whether this is good, it is true that sports can be attractive enough to captivate people so much.

Although much expectation was placed on the Japanese team, regrettably, the team was defeated in the preliminary round. Considering that strong teams such as Portugal, Spain and Italy were also defeated, however, it seems to me that it is very difficult to proceed to the final tournament. Moreover, pure chance sometimes decides the outcome of a match. As the maxim goes, people can only learn from their mistakes. I hope that the Japanese team will learn a lesson from their defeat this time and will do their best to proceed farther in the next event.

Another thing that I felt sorry about was the Brazilian ace Neymar, who suffered a serious injury and had no choice but to give up playing in the remaining games of the tournament. Since his performance had lived up to people’s expectations until then, I wanted to watch him playing a little while longer. I know that saying “could have” is useless in sports. But if he had played in the semifinal game, the result could have been different. Anyway, I hope that he gets better soon.

Neymar’s injury reminds me of that of Masahiro Tanaka, a major league pitcher on the New York Yankees. He had continued demonstrating excellent performance since the start of the season, and was selected to the All Star Game. All the more for these achievements, I feel very sorry for his injury. Still, I hope that he takes sufficient time to treat the injury and returns to the field in perfect condition.

While considering the above, I’ve discovered that the preliminary round of the National High School Baseball Championships began in each prefecture. The hot summer for sports fans is far from over. I hope you will enjoy the season without getting out of shape.

July 16, 2014,14:55 +0900(JST) The 144th Annual Shareholders’ General Meeting

On June 26, Sumitomo Electric held its annual shareholders’ general meeting in Osaka. Despite the hot weather, more shareholders than last year, nearly 700 of them, participated in the meeting. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to them.

Every year at our shareholders’ meeting, we first report on the Company’s business performance and then hold a question and answer session. As in years past, we received many questions on a variety of topics including global business situations, the Company’s current business results, corporate governance, and new technology development.

Some speakers mentioned that they were attending our shareholders’ meeting for the first time, and others asked questions citing our press release issued on the day before the meeting, which implies that people regularly check our company news. This indicates that an increasing number of people are becoming interested in our company.

Our shareholders’ meetings have a somehow cozy and friendly atmosphere accompanied by occasional laughter (though I always feel nervous during the meeting). I suppose this is partly because of the cheerful nature of Osaka people. In such an atmosphere, I felt our shareholders’ warm support for the Company.

We also received a comment like “How can Sumitomo Electric’s technologies make our life more convenient and exciting? Amaze us.” That’s just what we want to do. Since its establishment as an electric wire manufacturer, the Sumitomo Electric Group has continued tireless efforts for technical development and diversified its business fields. The Group is now trying hard to meet the needs of a future society by utilizing and combining its technologies and products in its three business fields: mobility, energy, and communication. I believe that continuing to generate unique and exciting technologies and products and to present such products to the world is the very mission for the Group, which has always held itself to high technological standards.

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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