The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

I embarked on the role of president at a pivotal time for the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ). The chamber had just begun a three-year plan to modernize and implement the initiatives that arose from years of member input and, most recently, the Membership Value Project (MVP). As a result, delivering member value has been a key strategic focus of my presidency. I am determined to ensure that the efforts underway will produce the value our members expect.

MEMBER CENTRICITY
Our 3,500-strong membership is the lifeblood of everything we do at the chamber. This is why collaboration among our members, committee leaders, officers, and governors is critical to fostering an active community of globally minded professionals. It is also a must if we are to help all members unlock the full value of their ACCJ membership.

With the strong leadership and support of ACCJ Governor Rebecca Green and a number of dedicated members, we established the Membership Advisory Council (MAC) earlier this year to help ACCJ leaders better attract and engage members. The council provides critical feedback on the membership expe­rience and supports a strategic approach to the recruitment and retention of professionals across all membership categories.

To inform this new approach, the council has sought feedback through discussion groups with new members, as well as leaders of the Membership Relations Committee and Japanese Membership Relations Subcommittee. The goal of these sessions, which will continue, is to better understand how to engage our newest members. In the second half of the year, MAC will shift focus to attracting new members and strengthening the membership base.

In addition, the chamber continues to be committed to making positive changes that empower our members to make even more connections, and to access available resources to successfully grow their businesses and achieve their professional objectives.

DELIVERING VALUE
Looking back at the first half of 2019, I am proud to report on several key investments made to deliver tangible member value:

  • Additional benefits for commercial memberships
  • Two new membership packages provide financial options
  • Dedicated External Affairs resources to support committees
  • Added engagement and promotion for new member companies
  • Commercial membership benefits now include an add­itional member at no cost for Company Memberships, and no entrance fees for Corporate Sustaining Memberships.

The new Small Company package makes membership more cost-effective for companies with few employees, while the President’s Circle package offers an all-inclusive option for multinational and large companies that are seeking priority access, top-level spon­sorship, and corporate exposure.

External Affairs resources have been allocated to support committees interested in advocacy, and this has enabled the chamber to increase visibility.

The ACCJ has improved the onboarding of new members through a revised welcome process and multiple promo­tional opportunities for new member companies.

LOOK AHEAD
As we move into the second half of the year, the ACCJ continues
to strengthen member connections and modernize how we communicate. We are doing this through the devel­opment of two digital tools:

Digital collaboration platform

Business & Services Directory

Three ACCJ committees will soon begin piloting a digital collaboration platform to support committee communication and knowledge-sharing, while the directory will serve as a public online resource to provide commercial members with a mechanism to generate business and promote their companies and services.

We are committed to encouraging a thoughtful exchange of ideas on key ACCJ issues among members. Through regular dialogue with the Leadership Forum on the proceedings of the Board of Governors, and via communication of those discussions with members at committee meetings, we seek to promote greater transparency about governance of the chamber.

I am energized by our efforts to date and am excited for the new developments already underway for the remainder of 2019. I thank our leaders and members for helping make these new initiatives a reality, and I look forward to sharing more of our progress in the coming months.

I always appreciate your feedback and comments. You can reach me at pmjennings@accj.or.jp

Peter M. Jennings is ACCJ President.
I am determined to ensure that the efforts underway will produce the value our members expect.