Powering growth by leading across borders & world cultures

Powering growth by leading across borders & world cultures

 Worked five years in the headquarters of Sumitomo in Japan, as they pushed a robust and successful international expansion strategy.

Image Translation 

Provide products and services that meet customer needs and respond to trust

I have attached a snippet from the internal company magazine that shared a little about the New Business Development team…it was a great time to see a Japanese OEM focused company start an internalization expansion strategy and move from 2% to 5% to 10% to 15% global market share by entering new foreign markets and customers.

Overseas Technology Department New Customer Development Technology Group

Translation : “Our workplace structure consists of 18 men and 2 women, and the men are international and globalized in Ireland, Brazil, Italy and Germany. In order to achieve ‘Global 15’ achievement, the business acquisition of non-Japanese automobile companies such as Ford / North America, GM / North America, VW / Germany, Fiat / Italy, etc. will be achieved through cooperation with overseas technical centres. As a matter of course, Japanese, English, Portuguese and Italian is probably the most used words in the SWS group. Recently, the language of each country has been mixed little by little, and it has a very lively atmosphere, with English-speaking Japanese and vice versa….”

Sumitomo leveraged with the support of progressive Human Resources a large influx of foreign university students in the local (‘to internationalize’) Japanese departments. They offered an amazing on-boarding (3months language training – 6days a week with a class sizes of 2 student and 1 teacher in the morning and another teacher in the afternoon!-It was intensive). The new hires worked then for 3months in multiple departments and was treated 100% like a local Japanese employee.

Each new employee was nominated a ‘senpai’ (In Japan, the relationship between senpai (先輩, “senior”) and kōhai (後輩, “junior”) is an informal hierarchical interpersonal relationship found in organizations From Wikipedia : http://bit.ly/2NopczA ). This was a great way for the new hires to understand a company’s distinctive strengths and capabilities clearly and at the same time to let the ‘senior’ see the world thru a more questioning set of international eyes. I did leave after 10years Sumitomo and was so impressed with the on-boarding and how everyone had the same goal to GROW the Business but still keeping the customer satisfaction at the center of everything. ‘A deadline is a Deadline-Never slide’ were foundational principles that ensured success.

Unlike many companies who simply do not make the financial or organizational commitments necessary to win in new or emerging markets, Sumitomo did not hesitant to make large investments in people first!! The open cubicle, with top executives mixed among the rest of the staff was a real eye opener.

Building a globalized company required many local Japanese executives to think in new and very unfamiliar ways about organization and strategy. Having such a diverse mix of international made setting global goals, aspirations, and value propositions so much more tangible and achievable.