Brent A. Conkle
- President & CEO
- Business Across Cultures Group Co. Ltd.
Date of birth: May 23, 1972
Hometown: Chester, West Virginia
Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 23 (as of April 2019)
Upon entering West Virginia University in 1990, I met my first Japanese friend in my freshman English class. There were about 150 Japanese students studying at WVU and I had Japanese roommates my entire time there, so I was exposed to a lot of cool Japanese culture and culture differences from that time onward. I was fortunate to have built a large network of Japanese friends before coming to Japan.
“Nothing is impossible, the impossible only takes longer.” My father taught it to me as a young kid. I do a lot of work related to change management and talent development and, based on my own my knowledge and experience in strategic human resources, I often share this motto with clients who are facing “impossible” challenges. I reassure them that the word impossible is spelled wrong and it should be “I'm possible.”
My proudest achievement has been to create positive lasting change in many top-tier organizations as well as with teams and individuals. In 2002, when I was working in the human resource department of DHL, I was asked by the president to set up my first company, Business Across Cultures, when I was only 28 years old so I could work as consultant for them throughout the region without any constraints.
My immediate goal is simple; continue improving the state of human resources in Japan to make world-class organizations that outperform others in their industry. We will do this by providing strategic solutions across the entire employee life cycle while nurturing a lot of leaders along the way. Eventually, I plan to return to West Virginia and run for the House of Representatives and bring companies to my home state.
“You can’t rush the harvest” — another saying from my father that has served me well in doing business in Japan and with the Japanese. Being a country that was primarily an agriculture-based society, a lot of those values still exist in the business world today. If you want to do business successfully in Japan, you need to cultivate relationships, and that takes a collaborative mindset and patience because of the need for a lot meetings. Trust is key and that not only goes for your relationships, but also for your products or services — they must be perfect with zero defects, hence so many meetings to get everyone's input and ideas. If you can imagine the business cycle like a growing season, you can be sure to produce the best results “with” your clients. There is a strong symbiotic relationship between what you produce and your clients in Japan, so take their needs into consideration and feed them well.