Leaders December 2016

Driving on

BCCJ members push the limits

William Trubridge, a UK-born New Zealander, holds the free diving world record. When asked what drives him to plunge more than 120 metres into the crushing black depths of the ocean on one life-sustaining breath of air, he replied: “It’s challenging yourself to do something very difficult, or that maybe even seems impossible, and breaking through those limits”.

DRIVE was the theme of the 2016 British Business Awards (BBA), and although most of us choose not to take the calculated personal risks that are a part of daily life for Trubridge, I think his comments encapsulate the essence of “drive”. It’s about never ceasing to try to push ourselves to the limits of our abilities. Each of us is capable of performing beyond expectations, and in many cases the hardest challenge to overcome is the limit we place on our own ambition. In facing new opportunities, conditions are rarely optimal, resources rarely sufficient and it is drive that enables the most successful individuals to compensate and overcome.

All of the 28 BBA nominees across six award categories have the spirit and desire to challenge themselves to break through the limitations of custom and convention. All embody qualities of drive and determination, and I sincerely hope that the nearly 300 British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) members and guests who attended the BBA will have been inspired by their stories.

Although primarily a celebration of the business success of our award nominees, the event could not have been delivered without the generous support of our headline sponsor Jaguar Land Rover and its team led by Magnus Hansson. The BCCJ is indebted to them, as well as to silver sponsors Michael Page International and Thermo Fisher Scientific, and supporting sponsor Clifford Chance Law Office. Without their assistance, and that of our in-kind and raffle sponsors, the BBA could not continue to grow in scale and prestige as the chamber’s flagship annual event.

Expert insights
Whilst the BBA dominates the autumn activity of the BCCJ office, I am proud that subsequent weeks have been packed with opportunities for members to engage with people who matter.

This included a farewell lunch with UK Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO, who provided a candid assessment of flourishing bilateral ties between Japan and the UK across business, security and society. He has been the leading servant of UK–Japan relations during his tenure in Tokyo, and we wish him well, convinced he will continue to be an outstanding champion of UK–Japan business collaboration and success.

Other events included a fascinating insight into the ikumen phenomenon and its place as an enabler of diversity and inclusiveness from The Economist Corporate Network’s Florian Kohlbacher, and a view from the government in Westminster with British Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP.

Opportunities to interact with peers, clients and customers will continue on 18 January, 2017, with the BCCJ new year shinnenkai at the Andaz Hotel. I look forward to welcoming you there, and in the meantime would like to thank all BCCJ members for their support in 2016. I wish them happiness, health and prosperity over the festive season and in the coming year ahead.