My first encounter with “Japan” was in Australia at the age of 16 on a high school exchange. I became friends with a Japanese student and a few years later stayed with her family in Kobe for a month, backpacked through Honshu and climbed Mount Fuji. That trip to Japan back in 1995, shortly after the Kobe earthquake, sparked a strong interest in Japan and a wish to someday return.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” This famous quote by Danish philosopher Soren Kirkegaard to me refers to the fact that you need to live life and be present when it happens. You cannot plan everything in detail and need to see the opportunities that life sends your way. The same applies in the world of business.
That’s without doubt my past 5 years as president and representative director for Coloplast KK. We were losing market share 5 years ago but through several changes we have succeeded in rejuvenating the company and have built a strong and sustainable performance culture. Today we have 150 passionate people on board who work hard to make life easier for the health care users we provide solutions for.
I want to continue the successful journey with Coloplast. We have come far but still have good opportunities to build our business in Japan. As chairman of the DCCJ, I want to continue supporting long and successful partnerships between Danish and Japanese companies. 2017 marks the 150th anniversary year of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Japan and ties between our two nations have never been stronger.
Work on yourself to become a “hybrid” — understand Japanese culture and how to explain it to outsiders. Speak both Japanese and English. Tenaciously challenge the status quo, be open and ambitious. Develop comparative perspectives by traveling and living outside Japan. Life’s a journey — enjoy the ride.