Queen recognises BCCJ Executive Committee member
Learning that he was to receive the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire came as a “great honour” to Philippe Fauchet, president and representative director of GlaxoSmithKline K.K., although the news that he had been nominated for the award had also come as a shock.
Fauchet accepted his Honorary OBE from British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO in a ceremony at the British Embassy Tokyo on 3 June. The citation states that he has been recognised for his “contribution to the British life-sciences industry in Japan”.
When contacted to ask if he would consent to his name being put forward to the Queen for the award, Fauchet said he was initially stunned.
“I asked, ‘Why me, why not someone else?’” he told BCCJ ACUMEN. “But very soon I felt honoured that someone appreciated my work enough, and the work of GSK, to nominate me”.
Fauchet’s award was announced on the website of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This is probably the only time that his name will appear alongside that of Angelina Jolie—who received the honorary damehood DCMG in October 2014—he joked.
The OBE is an “order of chivalry of British democracy” that is awarded to individuals who have rendered helpful service in a wide range of areas. The majority of the awards, which were established in 1917 by King George V, go to British nationals, with a smaller number presented to foreigners who have made a significant contribution to British society.
French-born Fauchet joined GSK in January 2010, although he had previously worked in Japan and South Korea for other firms in the life-sciences sector.
He also chaired the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations Japan from 2012–14, and was recently elected for the first time to the board of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ).
His un-British accent notwithstanding, Fauchet hopes the close ties that he personally—and GSK as a company—has built with the BCCJ, the British embassy and across the broader life-sciences sector in Japan, will benefit all stakeholders in the future.
“One of the first things that I did after joining GSK was to visit the embassy to meet the ambassador, who was then Sir David Warren”, Fauchet said. “Before that time, I felt we did not communicate with the embassy enough. But the embassy is effectively a home for a British company like ours.
“I wanted to build that friendship and, in doing so, help the British life-sciences sector in Japan”, he added. “We are ambassadors of our business here and we should be proud of the good things that are happening in the UK”.
A firm believer in ichi-go ichi-e, the importance of taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime encounter, Fauchet wants to build an increasingly strong network within the British community and in the Japanese business world, with which he has interacted for about 30 years. Half of that time he has spent in Japan.
Fauchet is also impressed with the BCCJ’s presence and performance.
“I have already found it to be a dynamic and charming team that is working hard to promote British interests in Japan”, he said.
The BCCJ is spearheading a number of important initiatives, Fauchet said, adding that as a life-sciences firm with a long commitment to corporate social responsibility projects, he hopes GSK can bring together British firms’ talents to contribute to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and, more specifically, the subsequent Paralympic Games.
Fauchet intends to pass on the news of his award to GSK’s employees in Japan after the presentation ceremony, in large part because he believes it is as much theirs as his.
“I’ve been recognised on behalf of all GSK and for the company’s activities here in Japan, and I want to tell our employees that”, he said.
“And while I do feel honoured, in a way this puts pressure on me to deliver even more”, he said with a smile. “We have to deliver to continue to justify this honour”.