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Struan McKay

Chief Executive Officer
RGF Executive Search Japan

Hometown: Penpont, Scotland

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 15 (as of August 2018)

Struan McKay
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

I joined Nissan in 1987 as their first newly graduated hire just as they started on a greenfield site in northeast England. As a young engineer building the facility, it was the attention to detail and patience of the Japanese engineers, sent over as advisers, that inspired me. The following year, I was lucky to come to Japan on my first business trip preparing for the launch of the Primera model.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

I married and had kids early, so it often felt as if there wasn’t enough time in each day to do even the basics needed outside of work and family. In later life I’ve adopted, “How can I treat every day as an opportunity to improve further?” to structure each day with a kaizen (continuous improvement) mentality and apply the motto in small, consistent and regular ways in all aspects of life.

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

In 1990, becoming the youngest manager in Nissan globally seemed to be a proud moment, but over time we learn to measure our impact more through the achievements and success of those we inspire and mentor. Hence, leading RGF Executive Search in Japan at this exciting time of growth to see how far our talented team members have progressed and the results we have delivered for our clients is my proudest achievement.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

I’m currently focused mainly on serving those around me. These include our clients, to improve the quality and value of offers we give them. My staff, to help them grow, develop and be everything they dreamed to be. My family, I have two Generation Y sons in early-stage careers living and working in Tokyo to whom I hope I can impart wisdom and advice to as they set out in life.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

For me it’s simple really, if you find yourself in Japan for the long term it is essential to fall in love with it. You need to accept the country, people and culture as it is. While no country is perfect, and Japan has its fair share of frustrations, we need to seek out the real Japan and not hide in the city protected by reminders of our home countries. I advise to get out of the city, live in the countryside, spend time with the locals and travel far and wide. Sample and appreciate everything the spectacular regions have to offer, from Hokkaido to Okinawa and everywhere in between. In every season, it’s amazing how much things change. While public transportation is wonderful, I recommend driving; it offers you flexibility to drop by local spots. I’ve lost count of the times my wife, dog and I have traveled up and down the country. Just try it.

Last updated: Sep 5, 2018