2023 Welcoming Statement for New Employees – President’s Address
Apr. 3, 2023
Congratulations, everyone. My name is Masayoshi Fujimoto, and I am President & CEO of Sojitz Corporation.
Last year, I spoke at a recruitment seminar where I told prospective employees to only apply if Sojitz was their first choice. My aim was to instill students with a strong sense of decisiveness, and I stressed the importance of carefully reflecting on your career ambitions to determine both what you want to do and where you hope to achieve these goals. I welcome all students to apply if they believe Sojitz is the place where they can excel. It is also important that students choose a company based on their own standards and criteria as opposed to being influenced by public opinion. Remember that life is a series of choices. In some respects, each time you make a choice your possibilities narrow. Choosing a company to start your career is one such important life choice. It is a decision that requires serious consideration, and I would like all of you to be employees who can take responsibility for determining your own life path.
While different circumstances have led each person here, all 105 new employees gathered today have overcome the difficult job search and made the ultimate decision to join Sojitz. This is also a fateful opportunity to be embraced. Take pride in the fact that Sojitz is your first choice. Today, I am pleased to welcome all 105 new employees to Sojitz. I take great pride in the caliber of the company and our people. Seeing all of you here today, I am filled with renewed determination as president to ensure that Sojitz will continue to be a company that you can be proud to be a part of. On behalf of all Sojitz Group members, I want to extend a warm welcome to all of the new employees joining us.
Looking ahead, we can expect a volatile business environment to continue with increasing uncertainty based on world events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a continued rise in prices, and the splitting of supply chains. In spite of this business climate, Sojitz has persisted. In FY2022, Sojitz expects to record JPY 110 billion in profit for the year, which marks an all-time high. We are taking the first steps to ascend to the next level as a company. However, we did not achieve these results overnight. Every Sojitz employee has demonstrated a strong drive, and these steady efforts have borne fruit. People are the driving force of the company. I hope that you will enjoy being part of our forward momentum as we ascend to the next stage.
Our vision for 2030 is to become a company that constantly cultivates new businesses and human capital. Sojitz traces its roots back to Suzuki & Co., Iwai & Co., and Japan Cotton Trading Company—companies founded in Kobe and Osaka close to 150 years ago. Our predecessors began by importing sugar, cotton, steel, coal oil, and celluloid, and handled many essential imports for Japan at the time. As Japan pursued policies for modernization, these companies imported steel-manufacturing technology and developed artificial silk thread manufacturing processes to start their own manufacturing businesses in Japan. A number of these companies continue to this day, including Kobe Steel and Teijin.
Sojitz and its predecessor companies, Nichimen Corporation and Nissho Iwai Corporation, have produced illustrious company alumni who left the company but have gone on to become active members of the business world.
Just like its predecessors, Sojitz we will grasp the market needs of the time to build business and continuously provide value to society through new businesses and human capital. All of you will carry on the pioneering spirit that is part of Sojitz’s DNA. I hope that you will develop into independent employees who do not cling to the company, but rather demonstrate the strong resolve needed to start your own businesses.
There is one piece of advice I repeat often, particularly to junior employees, which is to move beyond conventional business boundaries. However, breaking the mold is not synonymous with a lack of structure. You can only break from convention and pursue innovation once you’ve mastered the business fundamentals.
Following new employee training, you will each be assigned to a department to begin your work. At first, you will spend much of your time learning from your fellow colleagues. Many of the projects you take on will be for existing businesses, but do not ignore these opportunities to build fundamental business knowledge. Demonstrate a willingness to take on any new challenge and these experiences—whether successes or failures—will become part of your arsenal of skills. Master the fundamentals as part of your 10-year plan. When working for a general trading company, the most rewarding advantages include the opportunities to take on exciting new challenges without being limited to a specific business field while gaining a diverse range of business experience.
For example, I traveled to the Philippines last month where Sojitz is engaged in the manufacture and sale of packaged breads. While experienced employees manage the factories, we had some junior employees propose a new marketing plan using social media and data analysis and thus take on a new initiative within their area of responsibility. New business development is not the only way to break new ground. If you have been given an existing project, challenge yourself to see how you can tackle the job while pursuing optimal efficiency and speed. Another challenge might be to sit down with customers to have an extensive dialogue that covers any concerns and needs—no matter how small—in order to propose new solutions. While I am not directly quoting the baseball manager Hideki Kuriyama, I encourage all of you to never stop taking on new challenges no matter which department you are assigned. When you stop believing success is possible, you limit yourself. It is therefore essential that you continue to believe in yourself and take on new challenges.
What you make of your time at Sojitz is up to you. It will be one of your life stages, and I hope that you will take pride in being a member of Sojitz and be ready to learn the fundamental ABCs of business. Your time at Sojitz will surely prepare you to take on the world.
To conclude, your fellow recruits that you meet today will become irreplaceable, lifelong friends. Your peers will also be friendly rivals who will inspire you to new heights. Take time to deepen your bonds with your new colleagues and value your connections with other departments and teams. At the same time, expand your circle to build relationships of trust with your senior colleagues and partners outside the company.
Once again, I would like to congratulate and welcome you to Sojitz.