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Icon Partners K.K. is a specialist in supply chain and operations recruitment consulting covering logistics, supply chain management (SCM) and procurement, accounting, finance, and facilities management.

Nominated for Company of the Year at the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s 2014 British Business Awards, the company now hopes to build on its recent success.

Jeremy Sanderson, CEO, explains the company’s rationale and the unique service it can offer.

What inspired you to create the company?
I wanted to build a recruiting firm that was inspirational—Icon is taken from the words “inspirational consulting”—for customers and staff.

With a desire to give back to the community and contribute to society, I wanted full ownership of the company to ensure it has a sustainable ecosystem in which all employees can share in its success.

How would you describe Icon Partners’ way of doing business?
We want our customers to feel inspired by the hiring process. For applicant and hiring manager, a new role should be an exciting experience.

We want to raise the expectations of what recruitment-consulting companies can and should deliver in Japan. The Icon Partners way is to provide service focused solely on the needs of customers who share our vision and values.

How would you describe the company in three words?
SCM Talent Specialists

How does Icon Partners differentiate itself in a competitive market?
We are the first—and only—SCM recruitment consulting firm in Japan. Rather than try to compete with companies 10 or 20 times our size—that have deep pockets and a global footprint—our success has been built on a strategy of specialization.

Supply chain is a high-demand niche. We live and breathe supply chain and have spent years developing our understanding of the market and the needs of our clients.

Through our range of service options and emphasis on delivering exclusive-level service at contingency price, we can deliver high-touch, confidential service with minimized financial risk for our customers.

How does the company maintain its competitive edge?
Our high-touch style means we have to be very careful about how we use our most valuable resource: our time.

We are big fans of The Pareto Principle, coined by management consultant Joseph Juran: the idea that 80 percent of output in a system comes from only 20 percent of input.

By following this principle, we focus on results rather than activity in order to produce the highest possible performance for the lowest possible fixed cost.

By actively selecting business partners that appreciate our way of doing business and investing the majority of our efforts into them, we can maximize the quality of service we provide, reduce the amount of time lost, and increase the level of happiness of our employees.

This means more referrals, satisfaction, and profits, as well as a stronger business long-term.

Thanks to our dedication to our staff and allocation of time for their training, our turnover rate is one tenth the industry average. Not only do we attract and retain top talent, but we also make sure they understand every aspect of the business.

Our experience shows that if we give employees the tools they need to be successful, we can increase their effectiveness while reducing the management burden.

What’s your outlook for the year ahead?
For the past 18 months, we have been working hard on internal aspects of the business: building robust processes and quality management systems, training and developing staff, planning expansion strategy, and market positioning.

We are starting to see that hard work translate into results. There is energy in the office, as staff understands we are in a great position to capitalize on the strong market at present.

We are planning to hire staff in the third quarter of 2015 and build a strong team to start accelerating the business in the fourth quarter of 2015 and into 2016.




Companies . . . need to find ways to stimulate [the best thinkers] emotionally and cerebrally, not just financially.