Business

Orix Corp.'s Yoshihiko Miyauchi: From salaryman to business titan

by Kazuaki Nagata

Orix Corp.’s Yoshihiko Miyauchi is a name likely to be seen on a list of well-known Japanese business leaders.

But unlike other charismatic businesspeople such as Masayoshi Son, Kazuo Inamori and Hiroshi Mikitani, who are also founders of their firms, Miyauchi started his career as a company worker — a salaryman.

From there he climbed the corporate ladder, headed Orix for about 34 years, and turned what used to be a small leasing startup into a financial conglomerate with a market value of about ¥2.5 trillion.

It is rare for a salaryman-turned-business leader to become such an influential figure. The Japan Times asked Miyauchi to share his advice for younger generations, and discuss his experience as a business manager.

Do you have any tips for young businesspeople?

Company leaders need to be creative. (That’s because) I believe it is the role of companies to provide something the world finds useful, whether it is a first-ever product, or something much cheaper or better than existing products.

To do that, they need to take risks and facilitate innovation.

(But) it’s quite common among big companies for a bureaucratic person who just keeps following the precedent to become the leader. I just don’t understand it, and doubt whether they are doing their jobs as leaders.

What did you enjoy about being CEO?

Well, it was really tiring and I kept thinking that this was such a harsh job (laughs). But I enjoyed the sense of achievement when we created something new in the market.

What’s your management policy?

I don’t have one, but I don’t really bother myself with the past. There’s nothing effective about regretting things in the past because you can’t correct them …what you can do is think about what’s coming next. I am optimistic.

Are there business leaders you respect?

I don’t have any particular person that I’ve looked up to over his or her entire career, but there are some people I think were great in certain periods of time.

For instance, (in 1964) Mr. Konosuke Matsushita, (who founded Panasonic Corp.), decided to lead the sales team (since the firm was facing difficulties) even though he had retired from the front line of management. I imagine that he must have emanated charisma at that time. (Kazuaki Nagata)