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For expansion of corporate human capital
Project Any

Korn Ferry Japan Corporation Special Advisor
Seno Teruo

We asked Mr. Teruo Senoo, Special Advisor of Korn Ferry Japan Co., Ltd., the first official partner, about the leaders that are needed now, the education that will be required in the future, and the relationship between companies.


Teruo Seno

In 1975, graduated from the Faculty of Business Administration, Yokohama National University. After graduating from Stanford University Graduate School of Business (MBA), worked as a consultant at Bain & Company. After that, after serving as the president and chairman of Korn Ferry Japan, he is currently a special advisor to the company. In May 2022, he became an official partner of any, feeling the new possibilities of education in the future from the change in the idea of 6.9 members of society supporting one young person and delivering any.

How we became anyPartner

I have two points. First, there is the social impact. Among the various impacts, the work of human resources is familiar and very important, so one is that we are focusing on it.

Another is the focus on young people. This is very important. When I provide assessment and coaching for newly appointed executives, I often hear from them that they wish they had been younger. Even when we provide it to relatively young general managers and section chiefs in the company, we still hear that they wanted to know when they were young. Then, it is very important to have your own axis even before you become a member of society. It is important for both companies and individuals that individuals have their own axis. I knew that any was realizing it quickly and decided to become a partner.


Characteristics of “bad boy” type leaders

—— Any is an educational curriculum that nurtures autonomous human resources by creating “self-axis”, but what is the difference between those who have “self-axis” and those who do not, Mr. Senoo?

Korn Ferry is for global executives. Among them, people who have "self-axis" and do what they want to do are sweeping the world. Specifically, it is a company that is on the cutting edge like GAFAM. If you look at the leaders of such companies, you can see that they are very different from the previous image of leaders. In the past, the leader image was that of a "personal person" like a reliable father, but now it has changed to the "bad boy" type who pushes forward with what he wants to do without being bound by stereotypes.


When we look at Japanese global companies, it is belatedly necessary to have people who can make their own claims globally, do what they want to do, and cooperate with each other. There are many entrepreneurs these days, but the image of leaders has changed significantly. It can be said that many of the people who are earning money now, including YouTubers, are people who can push forward with their own axis.


In addition, Korn Ferry often assesses executives of companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Prime, and what is required there is always "how to go global." It means that the company will globalize, but at the same time, it means that the leaders themselves must also globalize. As leaders become more globalized, they will be able to accept diverse values. If you don't have a ′′ self-axis ′′ you'll be dizzy. If you accept everything as you are told, you will end up saying, "That person is unreliable." It means that while there is a "self-axis", it also incorporates the opinions of others. Even in today's large companies, it is natural to talk about wanting to make such a person an officer in the future.

Three elements required for globally active businessmen

—— What kind of people are the world's leading businessmen?

After all, one is whether or not there is “self-axis” and “autonomy”. In recent years, the number of interested parties has increased and values have diversified. In order to achieve something, it is not worth following unless you have a "self-axis". That's what big companies still want. Even if you are a student looking for a job, you can feel the difference between having an axis and not having one.


The second is whether we can adapt to change. It has become especially important because any company must globalize in a rapidly changing environment.


As mentioned above, the 1st and 2nd points are closely related, and people who do not have "self-centeredness" and are not "autonomous" are easily swept away and cannot respond to change. Also, the ability to communicate is very important. There are many talented business people, but not so many who are good at communicating their vision. Moreover, when it comes to having a strong impact, the number is even more limited. We are looking for people who are active all over the world, and in doing so, autonomy, response to change, and the ability to communicate are important points.

—— How can you tell them apart?

There are things in common, but if I dare to express it, it will be the word "bad boy". Being a "bad kid" means not being bound by preconceived notions. For example, when you meet suddenly, the relationship is flat. Old managers tended to look down on us, and when we met, we would shrink, but the new leaders I know are all flat. Even with young people, I say things like, "You're doing something interesting." They want to be heard because they are confident in themselves, and they don't need to be intimidating with titles or ways of speaking.


Light footwork is also important. A person with light footwork will accept other people's opinions without hesitation, even if he or she says something like this. From the point of view of my subordinates, it is difficult. It's not like in the old days, if you just say something, you'll just keep doing it. Then, it becomes important whether the leader is cute or not. At first glance, they are scary, but they themselves know that they are causing trouble for those around them, and they desperately want everyone to follow them.


What you need to find your axis

—— Mr. Senoo, how did you find your own axis?

Think for yourself, not other people's opinions. When I was a student, there was a student movement in the world, and even if I wanted to take the exam someday, it was an era when the exam was canceled. It was also an era of great changes in values, but many of my friends seemed to think that it was not such a big deal. However, I thought, "This is a great change," and wanted to know more about the reality. When I was in Japan, critics often brought up the examples of Europe and the United States and said that Japan was still lagging behind. was driven by I wanted to abandon the need for stability, do what I wanted to do, and be successful at what I loved.


Also, it was great to meet inspiring friends. There were many unique talents among my classmates at Shinjuku High School, such as the musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, with whom I got along. From that time on, he decided to become a world-famous musician and was steadily moving forward. One thing I've learned from inspiring friends is to not take what others say too seriously. They don't listen to what others say because they are confident in themselves, but I discovered that even if they don't have confidence, they do what they want without worrying too much about what others say. That's why I've been thinking seriously about what I want to do, instead of just accepting things like, "Don't get carried away by the atmosphere around you," or "If you go to a good university and get a job at a good company, you'll be happy for the rest of your life." rice field. And I came to think that it is important to first find something that excites you, no matter how trivial it is. I have taken great care of my own likes and dislikes.

—— It means that you listened carefully to your own inner voice and insight, and were cherished.

I agree. For example, I still remember the memories that moved me when I was a child. When I think about why the exciting experience was so enjoyable, I sometimes remember that I was doing what I liked, or that my friends are important, and then I decide to do something like this. Even now. Younger people are closer to childhood than I am, so they should be able to relive and talk to people about how they felt at that time. Please try it. I happened to encounter stimulating friends and movies, and I delved into those parts myself, but I think I should be able to do it more efficiently if I had a mentor. I think it is very important to realize what you value, what kind of words stick in your mind, and what kind of things excite you while talking to your mentor.


If you think about it in a difficult way, you won't understand the "self-axis", but first of all, you should take care of your likes and dislikes. Whether natto is good or bad depends on the results of research. Some studies may say that it is good because it contains a lot of protein, while others may say that it should be avoided because it contains a lot of potassium and causes blood clots. This is an eternal debate. However, "I like natto" is a fact and is always correct. If I say I like it, I'm right. So, overseas, I often meet people with a “mysterious sense of self-affirmation”. He lives in a world where he always says what he likes and dislikes. The story becomes simple if you start from such a place that you can't help it because you like this. Being honest about your likes and dislikes and expressing them well is the beginning of having your own axis.

——At any, there is a program where Mr. Senoo can experience what he has experienced to find his own axis (discussions with stimulating peers of the same generation, opportunities to talk one-on-one with mentors). If there is a place like any, will it be possible to cultivate self-centered and autonomous human resources?

Yes, I can. I happened to be like this by accident, and I felt strange, so I didn't strongly recommend it to people around me. However, while providing coaching, I was surprised by the number of people who unexpectedly felt that they needed something like this. If so, I've recently become convinced that it's important to actively encourage people to pursue these things and provide opportunities to do so, rather than just passively waiting for things to happen naturally. .


The Big Difference Between Japanese and American Education

—— There is a mask controversy these days. Should I wear a mask or not? Overseas, each person makes such a decision, but in Japan, there is a national character of listening to what the country and people in a higher position say. I feel that there is an environment where you can live without your own axis here.

The country doesn't even say so. Nor is it punishable by law. Just by recommending it, the amazing effect comes out because there is conforming pressure from the surroundings. It has a good side and a scary side.

—— This is a question related to that national character. Mr. Senoo, you also give lectures at Yokohama National University. How do you feel about compulsory education in Japan?  

There is a big difference between education in Japan and America. After graduating from a Japanese university, I worked once and then went to Stanford Graduate School to get an MBA in my early 30s. I always felt that there was a difference from Japanese universities.


After the war, Japan rose from the world's poorest country to the second in a very short period of time by implementing standardized mass production to mass produce good products. I have been educating people with the aim of cultivating people who are understanding and who can work well in an organization by cooperating with others. And it is successful.


However, the market in Japan itself is now smaller, and consumer tastes are diverse. Technology is constantly changing, and instead of mass-selling standardized products, the ability to create and deliver original and unique products that consumers want is being questioned. In that case, unfortunately, education up to now is a hindrance. Until now, in a world where there are correct answers, I think that I have taught students memorization and cooperativeness as basic academic skills to pursue such things as products that are good, the sooner the better, the cheaper the better. It made sense, but now it's not enough.


Looking at education in the United States, unlike in Japan where industry-university cooperation is not welcomed, there is a strong connection between universities and companies. In the United States, there is a lot of collaboration in which professors receive funding from companies and conduct research that is useful to companies. On the other hand, students also choose classes according to which professor they want to take. Many popular professors are strict, but the overwhelming majority of people take the course at the risk of being rejected. Japanese people dispatched from Japanese companies collect information on which professors and classes they can easily earn credits for. You can choose a professor that you think is good, instead of doing what you have been given, and professors are evaluated by their reputation from students and their own research results. There are no people who are passive and passive at a good university. There is also a big difference between Japanese and American education.  


However, until now, education in Japan has happened to make sense economically, so there was no need to reflect on it. In any society, too much pressure to conform is harmful. An idea that 10 people agree with will often fail. Some of the 10 will disagree. The process of persuading them and finally making a decision is meaningful. Anything that says that everyone is good usually fails.

—— That's why discussions are so important overseas.

yes. However, at that time, it is meaningless for people who do not have "self-axis" to gather and discuss. Even if a person without an axis is present at a conference or meeting place, they will not be recognized as a person who can do their job because their opinion and position are not established.


Any that leads to expansion of human capital x sustainability

—— any is Japan's first model where support is solicited from companies and individuals, and students can take classes for free by utilizing the scholarship system. Currently, we are cooperating with any as part of our CSR efforts with the aim of nurturing one young person in Japanese society as a whole.

How important will CSR be for companies to survive in the future?

The word CSR has taken on a life of its own, and people have different ways of thinking, and even have the image of volunteers. However, I think that what is done at the expense of profit will not last long. For that reason, I think we should do it in a way that is not inconsistent with the pursuit of profit, but the concept of "profit" is changing in the first place. Today's profits are for shareholders, in terms of American capitalism, but in recent years the concept of "stakeholders" has expanded. We are now in an era where companies must reconsider their profits, taking into consideration that there are various stakeholders other than shareholders. Also, the time span is in units of quarters and years, but we must consider more medium- and long-term profits. As such ideas become more important, they are gradually enacted into law, and in some ways they lead to a corporate image. In the end, they lead to improved profits for a wide range of stakeholders over the medium to long term. Rather than doing it as a volunteer, we need to seriously consider it as one of the things that is essential for the long-term development of entrepreneurs.


In recent years, "investment in human capital" has been incorporated into corporate ratings, and along with this, disclosure of information on investment in human capital has been required. It is not a qualitative thing like cultivating people is important, a company is people, but it is directly linked to the business that affects the rating of the company and how much money can be collected from it. is very important.


Many people think that education is thriving in Japan, but that is a kind of legend, and today Japanese companies' investment in human resource development is the lowest among developed countries. In addition, in the short term, education is about acquiring IT knowledge, but in the long term, it is about how to increase the "autonomy" mentioned in the discussion earlier and how to respond to changes. In-depth content is also important for companies. These are also important elements of CSR.

—— From now on, the time will come when any will be used as an initiative to invest in human capital.

I agree. It would be nice to be able to say, "It may be bad when you disclose it" if you don't use any. If you are a company that invests a lot in expanding human capital using any, I think you should aim for such a high evaluation.

We will disseminate various information about any students and the next generation.
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