2018 Entrance Ceremony for New Employees – President’s Address

Apr. 2, 2018

Preface
Congratulations, everyone. My name is Masayoshi Fujimoto, and I am President & CEO of Sojitz Corporation.

I am overjoyed to welcome our 124 new colleagues here today—103 from the management track and 21 administrative staff.

For you, this is also the unforgettable day you gain new lifelong friends in those joining the company alongside you. On behalf of all Sojitz Group members, I warmly welcome you to our company.

Sojitz Corporation Today
Today marks the start of your career at Sojitz, and I would first like to share my feelings on the state of our company, as I always try to share with employees.

This is the 15th year since Sojitz’s founding. This is also the year we begin a new Medium-term Management Plan—an action plan which clearly lays out company initiatives in pursuit of our vision and which all of our employees will work towards over the next three years. During the last two Medium-term Management Plans, we were able to establish a foundation for future growth (“Medium-term Management Plan 2014 – Change for Challenge –”), as well as take on a variety of challenges focused on growth in the years to come (“Medium Term Management Plan 2017 – Challenge for Growth –”). We have now nearly met the goals of the current Medium-term Management Plan and are steadily shifting our company into a new stage of growth.

Throughout these three years of “Challenge for Growth,” each division, department, and section worked to further expand profits from business involved in new initiatives and come up with appropriate, time-based initiatives for existing challenges while working to achieve the goals of the Medium-term Management Plan. In this way, it aimed to create sustainable growth for our company. Now, I have asked our employees to think the situation through by themselves and thoroughly discuss the new plan under the leadership of their COOs.

I also touched on the importance of keeping an ear firmly to the ground, listening for changes to the operating environment. With regards to the economic climate, the global economy is showing largely healthy performance and resource prices remain strong. However, the geopolitical risk posed by the recent actions of the U.S. government and places like North Korea and the Middle East leave us with an opaque and uncertain market. In terms of industry, experts see AI, IoT, and other elements of the digital revolution evolving faster than anticipated for a wide variety of business areas and models. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to show responsibility for environmental and social issues, as characterized by the popular acronym “ESG” (environmental, social, and governance). Sojitz is working harder than ever to incorporate sustainable approaches into our business activities, pursue both profits for Sojitz and “value for society,” and focus on innovation and improved work quality through the promotion of diversity and “working style reform.” *1

With regards to “working style reform,” what is important for us is not simply shortening the amount of time employees spend at work; rather, what’s important is that each employee manages their time better than before and effectively uses the surplus afforded by this time management to raise productivity. We no longer live in an age where it is “cool” to be a workaholic, slaving away until midnight. Since last year, I have been asking your soon-to-be bosses—the managers and general managers—to change the way they look at working hours. I tell our employees that they must keep an eye out for changes to the operating environment like these reforms, experience them firsthand, always consider what they should be doing at a given time, and put those ideas into action. Additionally, I tell them they must acquire the risk management ability and sensitivity to react to changes in this opaque and uncertain operating environment, as well as learn to view these changes as a bridge to new business opportunities. And now I ask that of you, too.

One point upon which I have placed particular emphasis in my messages to employees is my desire to increase our company’s genba-ryoku*2. Actively entrusting work to our most motivated and talented employees, regardless of age, has always been one of our company’s strongest qualities. Our stance on developing employees through practical, on-the-job experience is at the heart of our work as a trading company. We focus on developing employees by carefully sharing both expertise gained on the job and examples of successes and failures. I believe that all of you here today chose Sojitz because that company culture resonated with you; that idea of entrusting work to junior staff as long as they have the motivation. I hope that you will demonstrate that passion through your work. I’m counting on it.

<Expectations for New Employees>
Before you start down the path of a Sojitz employee here today, there are two things I would like to say.

■Don’t Fear Failure

The first is that I want you to dedicate yourself to your work each day without fear of failure.
As I just mentioned, our company culture calls for us to entrust work to employees, be they junior staff or new hires, as members contributing to the capabilities of their organization. It also calls for employees to muster the guts to see their work through to the end. Even with regards to me and my colleagues, our willpower and ability led to us being entrusted with important work despite our ages. In carrying out your work, you will likely come up against many challenges and experience setbacks. In fact, even I have experienced failure many times before. But our company has given me innumerable chances to succeed. This is precisely because our company culture lauds those who “think outside the box to challenge themselves.”

This is why I want you to dedicate yourself to your work each day without fear of failure.

What’s important is that you think through to the heart of the matter in your own way and push forward confidently, without fear of failure. As I just said, a single mistake does not spell the end of your career. Even if you take on the tough challenges and ultimately lose, people will still view your actions positively as long as you learn from your mistakes and endeavor to find a better way.

When I say “do not fear failure,” bear in mind that “approaching the problem after thinking the issue through” and “running in headlong with no plan” are two very different things. As new employees, if you take the initiative to think things through and still fail to produce results, these challenges you undertake will become the building blocks which lead to your next opportunity. You will develop a habit of always thinking, “Next time will be different!” That’s what I mean by becoming the kind of “aggressive” employee our company needs. Become the kind of employee with the mettle to boldly approach new projects, who takes on challenges the way only junior staff can, and who builds experience on-the-job.

■Earning Coworkers’ Trust

There is one more important thought I would like to leave you with before you become members of the Sojitz family: how to earn coworkers’ trust.

Your biggest concern right now might be “Which department will I be working in?” Regardless of where you are placed in the company, however, you will find yourself given new opportunities to challenge yourself so long as you put your passion into your work, meet others with integrity, and earn the trust of your colleagues. I have been blessed with many lifelong allies from among my bosses, senior staff, and coworkers. I believe that I stand here today at the head of this company’s management thanks to having gradually built trust with those around me through my work.

Earning the trust of not only your bosses and colleagues, but also business partners and customers, is essential to creating a healthy work environment. The trust of your colleagues is not something you earn in a day. Whichever department you are placed in, I hope you will work with integrity, without forgetting who you are.

It says in the Sojitz Group Statement, “The Sojitz Group creates value and prosperity by connecting the world with a spirit of integrity.” I hope that you continue to value “trust” and “integrity” as you fulfill your duties in the workplace.

In Conclusion
I heard that you all have three weeks of training starting from today. Aside from the training you are given here, I hope you also practice self-study in order to achieve your goals. I am looking forward to seeing the trust you build with your colleagues and the bold challenges you actively pursue.

Let us create the future of Sojitz together.
Congratulations again on joining the company.

*1 Hatarakikata Kaikaku: Literally “working style reform,” a buzzword coined by the Japanese government referring to policies which aim to reduce working hours, improve work/life balance, and increase employee productivity.

*2 Genba-ryoku: Refers to the combined capabilities of Sojitz Group members working “on the ground”—in offices, at project sites, in meetings with customers and clients, and other places of work around the world.

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