Leaders December 2014

BCCJ people

The jam in the doughnut

As 2014 draws to a close, we reflect on a record-breaking year at the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ). None of the results would be possible without the commitment and energy of our people.

Recognising staff
In January, Sarah Firth joined the BCCJ as membership and marketing assistant, thereby increasing our staff by 50%. Since then, traffic to www.bccjapan.com has surged—evidence of growing engagement by members and non-members alike.

Our Weekly Round Up, where the BCCJ and member firms share news, now has an average opening rate of 40%. Further, more and more of those 200 member firms are using our BCCJ website offers page, a “members marketplace” offering products and services at discounted rates.

Lee Hyon-Suk joined us on 1 December as global sporting events project manager, and has hit the ground running to ensure that BCCJ member firms have the opportunity to support the delivery of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

One of Lee’s first tasks is to create an archive of BCCJ activity to date on these mega-events, including the outcomes of our eight related events held since July. The most recent, our “Olympics Bus Tour” on 25 November, saw over 20 UK businesses join BCCJ member firms on a visit to the key sites of Tokyo 2020.

This year, interns have joined the BCCJ from the UK, Canada, the US, Japan and Palestine. Each one has brought value and alternative perspectives, and it’s a pleasure to see them grow over the course of their time with us.

And, we cannot forget Sanae Samata who began working at the BCCJ in 1987. She says life in the chamber office was more peaceful at that time—before the Internet, eight communications channels, a “united nations” of interns, and a noisy Scot sprang into her life.

Chamber vitality
As for me, I will reflect on the year’s highlights during a family break in the UK. Before signing off, I borrow some words of wisdom from 2014 British Business Awards Person of the Year Sue Kinoshita, director of UK Trade and Investment.

“Our [UKTI] team organogram has me sitting at the centre, with our various teams ranged around me, rather than the more typical hierarchical structure. I like to describe myself as the jam in the middle of the doughnut.

“I feel similarly about the British business eco-system in Japan, represented by the nominees in this year’s Person of the Year category. Every single one of them is providing the substance of the UK–Japan business relationship, and I just have the very jammy job of sitting at the intersection of all their activity”.

It’s been an honour to serve our people—members, the executive committee and their communities—again this year. Thank you for giving us such wide and varied support—truly the life-blood of the chamber. On behalf of the BCCJ team, I wish you a fruitful festive season, and a happy new year ahead.