Interview August 2013

Jonathan Sampson

Regional Director, Hays Japan

Sampson: Japan represents a huge opportunity.

What services does your firm provide here?
Hays Japan provides recruitment-related services covering permanent placement, temporary staffing, IT consulting and recruitment process outsourcing.

We have a particularly strong capability in providing globally minded staff and solutions tailored to our client’s needs.

How do you differentiate your services from those of the competition?
We are the only foreign recruitment company in Japan to operate specialist business units comprising professionals with experience and expertise in the sectors they cover.

Our 13 specialisms have helped to create dedicated expert consultants with whom to truly add value. In addition, the mix of technology and methodologies that we use ensures maximum penetration occurs in the most efficient way.

At the heart of our operation are the consultants and back-office team. Those on the consulting team undergo rigorous training through an industry best learning and development programme.

Our structure, approach and people ensure that our clients get access to the very best talent, and our candidates are provided with the best opportunities.

In addition, Hays provides customers with substantial insight into their industry through value-added events, seminars and thought-leadership publications.

Why did your firm decide to invest in Japan?
The country represents a huge opportunity. There is a clear chance for us to differentiate ourselves in the bilingual, bicultural marketplace, and our high value, customer-focused approach complements Japan’s market expectations.

What has been your top challenge here?
Finding the right balance to maximise the success of our clients and candidates in this market.

We are a global business, and proud of it. However, we must not discount the need to adapt to the local market.

Equally, it is important not to assimilate too much and to stay focused on an approach that will provide the best outcome for our customers.

We are challenged on a daily basis by the talent shortage that exists here. It is only through our established, proven and comprehensive capability that we can overcome this effectively.

Has Hays changed since coming to Japan?
Hays Japan has seen strong growth every year. Throughout our history, we have expanded our business geographically and in capability across specialisms. This reflects the growing demands of our clients and candidates.

As this evolution has occurred, we have built around our experience to provide solutions to strong emerging sectors.

How might your business with UK–Japanese firms change?
Japan is becoming increasingly global. Even the traditionally more domestic sectors are now looking for globally minded talent. This will increase opportunities for capable individuals.

At the same time, the opportunities that Japan provides will become more evident to UK businesses, and partnership opportunities will increase.

The great culture that underpins the success of Japan is evolving while labour flexibility and mobility is increasing and demand is changing.

What is the main asset that British firms offer the Japanese market?
Access to regional knowledge, a global mindset, and global talent.

The UK has always been quite open to the concept of a global marketplace. This specialist skill set will allow the Japanese marketplace to complement its current capability and continue the positive momentum witnessed in recent months.

How can Japanese firms best benefit from working with British entities?
British firms are usually very clear in their objectives and dedicated to quality in their specialist area.

By partnering with a British business, Japanese firms can tap global expertise while working together towards clearly defined outcomes.

Can foreign firms and the Japanese market benefit mutually in the current economy?
In an uncertain and evolving global economy, strong partnerships are critical to regaining stability and confidence on a world level.

The opportunity to share international best practice and globally source products and services ensures that the very best quality is obtained and delivered.

Further, these relationships give access to untapped sectors and customers and, ultimately, help improve profitability.

What are foreign firms’ main opportunities in Japan?
Given the current positive economic indicators and more assurance around government ability to take action, Japan’s immediate future looks bright.

An increasingly global mindset will open up further business opportunities and the need for international business to have a presence in Japan.

Access to the highly skilled and educated workforce, reliable and mature business infrastructure, and the market to support growth here will enable these opportunities to develop.

How might your sector change to better UK–Japan business ties?
The Hays Skills Index Report shows that Japan has the highest talent mismatch of any of the 33 countries in which Hays operates, demonstrating that the labour pool exists, but not necessarily with the right skills set.

To change this over the long term, topics such as education need to be visited. However, over the short to medium term, some excellent solutions are possible.

They involve diversity programmes that tap the underutilised pool of talented females, as well as reviewing labour law rigidity and immigration.

This would allow a much greater flow of knowledge and resources between the two countries.