Project Summary

Our Client: ITW Japan

Our client was ITW’s Automotive Segment, specifically their Japanese Automotive business.  The business was seeking to hire a Sales Director, a Japanese national, based in Tokyo, Japan. This position would oversee the commercial strategy for major Japanese auto OEM’s, such as: Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.  The business would be selling highly differentiated products, which were oftentimes not on the market, as well as introducing new technologies and applications. The Sales Director would need exceptional commercial communication capabilities as well as experience leading a global team.  As a result of previous successes with ITW’s international operations in Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Spain, and France, coupled with the issue of the client not having a talent acquisition function in Japan, Quovis was selected to run this professional search.

Multiple Challenges

In speaking with ITW leadership in Japan, there were three primary challenges identified upon search initiation.  First, there would likely be a language barrier. Second, the business culture in Japan is such that they prefer to have personal connections with individuals before conducting business.  Finally, the client wanted to ensure that we placed a premium on diversity recruiting, ensuring that we had a pipeline that was inclusive of female candidates, in short supply within Japan’s automotive business environment.  While navigating these obstacles, we were also required to have weekly updates with leadership in Japan as well as the United States.

New Culture, New Success

It was clear from our kick-off meeting that social media tools, such as Facebook, would be the key to success in this search.  Pairing our research with these tools we were able to warm up our introductions with candidates before moving on to business conversations.  The Japanese candidates typically wanted to have an understanding of who we were, personally, and what our experience was before they’d proceed in conducting business with us.

For many candidates, the language barrier was clearly an issue; however, we were instructed to primarily target bilingual (Japanese/English) candidates, as this position would require communication with the US and European counterparts.  Throughout our interviews, utilizing video conferencing, both Quovis and the candidates were able to quickly assess whether their candidacy was viable, due to their ability or inability to converse in the English language.

The most challenging part of this particular search was ensuring we had a diverse slate, inclusive of female candidates.  To accomplish this, we targeted graduates of predominantly female universities and colleges, such as: Women’s University in Tokyo, Kesin University, and Ochanomizu University.  We also partnered with these universities to network through their business and engineering departments, in order to spread the word on this new opportunity.

Our efforts, process, and activities resulted in the hiring of a new Sales Director within 3½ weeks of search kick-off; the new hire was subsequently promoted to manage all Japanese commercial activities for ITW within 12 months of initial hire.

Taking into consideration the many obstacles along the way, the overwhelmingly positive experience of working cross-culturally with our Japanese client and candidates was both informative and enriching, and once again proved Quovis’ ability to go where our clients go.