Sojitz Announces New Initiatives to Support Diverse Career Paths and Working Styles
Mar. 19, 2021
Sojitz Corporation (“Sojitz”) has announced new professional development initiatives that will provide the framework and platforms for each individual employee to realize his or her diverse career path goals and working style needs. In recent years, the external environment has changed drastically as a result of labor shortages, shifts in career-related values, and the adoption of new working styles in which individuals hold side businesses and jobs. In light of these circumstances, Sojitz aims to ensure that its employees are able to work with a high degree of motivation and experience professional growth by offering employees options to pursue diverse working styles. In addition, Sojitz seeks to create greater opportunities for business and open innovation through these new initiatives, which include the formation of an inclusive Sojitz Group network that will create new business opportunities that expand beyond the company’s current business areas. Sojitz’s new professional development initiatives include the following three initiatives.
★Support for Entrepreneurs and Independent Businesses
Sojitz will implement policies to support entrepreneurs and independent businesses. The company will back employees who intend to start their own business by providing Sojitz resources—including funding, informational resources, and networks—to promote these business ventures. Sojitz also plans to have members of Sojitz Alumni (see next section, “Sojitz Alumni”), who are working outside the company, offer advice and funding to these start-ups. Each year, Sojitz holds an in-house business contest, the Hassojitz Project, *²through which ideas developed can now be commercialized and established as independent businesses through this funding initiative.
As a general trading company that continues to create business and develop capable people, Sojitz will support the desired career paths of all employees, including those individuals who seek to become entrepreneurs and establish their own independent businesses. At the same time, Sojitz strives to hire and develop proactive challenge takers with an entrepreneurial spirit to transform the company’s corporate culture.
Sojitz will establish “Sojitz Alumni” as a business networking platform to foster connections among Sojitz’s former employees and between current and former members of the company. As a network first proposed by former Sojitz employees, Sojitz Alumni has been approved and authorized as an official Sojitz organization, and Sojitz will support operation of this platform.
Sojitz Alumni: http://www.sojitz-alumni.com/
For further details, please see the attachment on Sojitz Alumni.
Sojitz will establish a new company for job-based employment*3 as a career platform that will be available to employees over the age of 35 to further their career goals. In order to offer diverse options as part of this job-matching platform, employees will be able to choose a new career path without limitations based on retirement age, business hours, or location, allowing them to establish start-ups or take on side businesses. Employees that transfer to this new company will be able to apply the skills and experiences they have acquired at Sojitz to businesses outside the company in order provide new value under this framework.
*1：Sojitz Group network: An inclusive Group network will be formed based on Sojitz Alumni platform that connects former Sojitz employees.
*2：Hassojitz Project: An in-house contest where members are assembled through open call within the company to come up with concrete business ideas and business models to present to Sojitz’s president and COOs. Based on the results of the contest, the most feasible ideas are considered for commercialization. (Photo: Hassojitz Project mid-year report held in December 2020)
*3：Unlike membership-based employment which is the standard form of employment in Japan, job-based employment hires individuals based on a job description that outlines the specific tasks of the job, salary, and other working conditions. In job-based employment, people are matched to specific positions and recruitment focuses on whether an individual possesses the required skillset for the job. As the individual is expected to perform tasks defined within the scope of the job description, the clear-cut expectations of job-based employment allow employees to achieve greater work-life balance.
[About Sojitz Alumni]
Sojitz Alumni is open to all former Sojitz (including Nichimen and Nissho Iwai) employees who continue to engage in business and social activities. Sojitz Alumni members will have both an understanding of the internal workings at Sojitz in addition to an outside perspective. Sojitz will appoint distinguished members that are active in different industries as “Sojitz Alumni Entrepreneurs,” and from this group several members will be appointed as “Sojitz Alumni Ambassadors” to participate in seminars and lectures, provide advice on projects, support business creation, introduce and secure funding sources, participate as judges in Sojitz presentations, engage in regular and individual meetings with Sojitz employees, and provide consultations through an exchange of opinions. This coming April, Sojitz will hold a lecture to commemorate the network’s establishment together with Sojitz Alumni Ambassadors. Sojitz also plans to have these ambassadors serve as judges to provide advice at the Hassojitz Project presentation in May, a project undertaken by the company to encourage expansion into new business fields.
Sojitz hopes to become a company that former employees choose to stay connected with, and the company considers these connections essential to Sojitz’s sustainable development as a general trading company that continues to create new business and develop capable people.
■Sojitz Alumni is expected to reach roughly 500 members by March 2022. Mr. Yoshiaki Fujimori will be appointed as Chairman of Sojitz Alumni. (Mr. Fujimori worked at Nissho Iwai Corporation from 1975–1986, served as the former LIXIL Group CEO, and currently serves as Chairman of Oracle Corporation Japan). Mr. Masayuki Kojo will be appointed as Vice Chairman. (Mr. Kojo worked at Nissho Iwai Corporation from 1993–2001 and currently serves as President of Chip One Stop, Inc.) Both Mr. Fujimori and Mr. Kojo have been named Sojitz Alumni Ambassadors.
To become a member of Sojitz Alumni, visit http://www.sojitz-alumni.com/
■Sojitz was formed from a merger between Nichimen Corporation and Nissho Iwai Corporation in April 2004. The company will reach the 17th anniversary since its founding in April 2021. Over this time span, nearly 2,000 employees have retired from the company. If including retirees from Sojitz’s predecessor companies, Nichimen and Nissho Iwai, the number of former employees reaches over 6,000. Many of these individuals are still engaged in business and social activities across multiple industries.
■On April 1, 2021, Sojitz plans to introduce the Alumni Solution platform as a social networking tool to promote communication. Using this SNS platform, members of Sojitz Alumni will be able to connect with other members and with current Sojitz employees, build a network of new connections within the Sojitz alumni community, and create business through these connections.
■Effects of Social Networking and Exchange