- Representative Director
- MacDermid Performance Solutions Japan
Date of birth: Sept. 4, 1972
Hometown: Bethel, Pennsylvania
Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 20 (as of March 2018)
During the 1980s, there was a movement in the U.S. to create the next generation of “Japan hands,” or Japanese-speaking scholars who could logically explain what was happening in the enigmatic country and how America could benefit. The first time I lived in Japan was in 1993 when I was invited to join a yearlong research program that allowed me to be a resident of the ancient capital of Kyoto.
After reading “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” I have been inspired by Angela Duckworth’s comment that, “Gritty people train at the edge of their comfort zone.” Although this is a new self-improvement book, I have realized that — throughout my career in international business — I avoided the temptation of making safe bets and seeking low-hanging fruit. I believe firmly in taking calculated risks and setting stretch goals.
If I had to single out just one achievement, it would be my entering an industry where I had no prior experience and then taking that inherited team of employees and building it into a stronger customer-focused organization where everyone feels they contribute. It is truly a privilege, which I do not take for granted, to be able to attract and retain great talent who join me on this journey.
My overriding goal is to have our company’s headquarters in the U.S. invest even more in Japan. I am fortunate to work at a multinational that already values the Japanese business and has huge expectations of what the Japanese employees can achieve in the future. My job is to move the team further along the growth curve and execute on a long-term strategy that will then justify the additional investment.
For those involved in sales, one piece of advice is to spend the time required to develop long-term relationships with Japanese influencers. Whenever I enter a new market in Japan, the first thing I do is seek out the key opinion leaders in that field and befriend them so that they can potentially become future advocates for my company’s product. These Japanese “opinion shapers” are people who are recognized as highly respected experts in their given industry and wield tremendous influence on the purchasing decisions of companies and consumers, but careful vetting is necessary. Finding these people may be a challenge because they sometimes maintain a low public profile, so I personally invest a lot of on-the-ground time in tracking down such thought leaders and subject matter experts who may eventually bless my product. Needless to say, this backing alone is not enough to succeed and you will need to have a product built to the highest standards with consistent reliability.