The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Finance, soft infrastructure, customers, and talent. These are the four important things needed for doing business, said Michael Alfant, then president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), at an event with the Union of Kansai Governments on October 19, 2012. Finding the right talent remains a key challenge for ACCJ member companies.

Under the leadership of the External Affairs Committee, the ACCJ’s Kansai chapter has been organizing events at universities in the region to help students understand what’s needed to become globally capable. During the past year, we organized events at Kwansei Gakuin University, Konan University, and Kansai Gaidai University. More than 50 students attended the session at each location.

The effects of globalization have created demand for a new generation of young workers with a global mind-set. The ACCJ–Kansai’s event series What Is Truly Necessary to Be Active Globally? helps students to not only realize the value of having a global mind set, but also provides real-life examples of how to achieve and apply this mind set in the workplace—whether working at home or abroad.

Japanese and foreign students were divided into teams and given the task of answering questions regarding the essential skills, habits, and thinking related to working globally. In the latter half of the session, teams presented their ideas and were given the chance to ask questions and learn from experts who work in global businesses.

Vincent Garcia of Doshisha University, who attended all three events, said: “As an American studying at a Japanese university, I was deeply impressed by the passion of my Japanese peers for learning, and their open-minded attitudes toward international concepts. This gave me more confidence in the future of Japan. I believe that, by the end of the event, each of us left with more clarity regarding how we can act globally in our everyday lives.”

Separately, by working together with the Consortium of Universities in Hyogo Prefecture, we also organized a session focusing on first- and second-year students to help them get ideas on what it’s like and what is needed to work for non-Japanese companies. The event was sponsored by the Hyogo Prefectural Government and supported by the City of Kobe. By applying what we learned from the events organized at universities, we were able to deliver a successful event and further build a positive reputation among local governments. More than 80 students from eight universities attended this session, and 92.4 percent of them commented that it was a great event.

On developing a positive image of working for non-Japanese companies, 59.1 percent said they are strongly interested in doing so, 39.5 percent said they are interested, and 97 percent said they got a clear idea of the action to take after the event.

Companies are globalizing and young Japanese talent must be competitive with their global peers. While English is a critical skill, mindset is more important. The Kansai chapter of the ACCJ is trying to help students and universities realize this by offering programs to cultivate the next generation of globally capable talent.

In addition to advocating for changes needed to make the region a destination for talent, these examples of student-targeted events at multiple universities in the Kansai region are an investment the ACCJ–Kansai is making in our local human talent. This will be of benefit to our member companies, our community and, ultimately, the ACCJ itself.

Makoto “Mark” Kawai is special advisor and a member of the ACCJ–Kansai External Affairs Committee
The ACCJ is . . . offering programs to cultivate the next generation of globally capable talent.