Leaders December 2015

Resilience in business

Celebrating success and looking ahead

In a recent Financial Times article, Risto Siilasmaa, chairman of Nokia, introduced a word that he feels is one of the most important in Finnish culture. Sisu, he explained, means “a mix of perseverance, determination, guts. Never give up. Go through a brick wall”. The Japanese equivalent is konjo, but I am not sure we have one word to convey this feeling in English.

British Business Awards

I had good cause to consider this last month, when I had the privilege of welcoming a record number of British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) members and guests to the 2015 British Business Awards (BBA). This was an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of 30 award nominees, and I wanted to describe one of the qualities that enables them to be so successful. Ultimately, I chose a different word: resilience.

It’s easy to post great results when the economy is booming, but it is resilience that provides the foundation on which great businesses can build, excel and innovate in both good times and bad.

All of the nominees, and in particular the award winners, have shown an amazing array of qualities that differentiate themselves from their peers. Yet, if you look into the heart of what makes each one successful, I am sure you will find overwhelming reserves of strength and resilience, which are qualities to which we should all aspire.

Although the BBA celebrates individual excellence, the event was the outcome of an outstanding team effort. Like any team, the BBA had its Most Valuable Players, who are worthy of special mention, in particular, the BCCJ Executive Committee’s BBA task force—led by Simon Farrell and Trevor Webster—and Jaguar Land Rover Japan Ltd., the headline sponsor.

We also received support from a great number of firms and individuals, including in-kind and raffle sponsors. The BCCJ is extremely grateful to them for their generous contributions that helped make the evening so special.

Boost from sport

Given that the BBA followed so closely on the heels of the hugely successful Rugby World Cup 2015, I could not resist commenting on the magnificent displays of Scotland and Wales in reaching the quarterfinal stage—albeit they would have liked to go further.

The performance of the UK economy also gave cause for cheer as retail sales grew by a stronger-than-expected monthly rate of 1.9% in September. In fact, the Office for National Statistics cited the event as a key driver for a surge in food and beer sales.

Season’s greetings

As we approach the end of December, the BCCJ’s New Year resolution will be to continue bringing its members the people who matter. I therefore hope you will join us for the shinnenkai (New Year party) on 27 January.

In the meantime, on behalf of the BCCJ, I wish all our members a relaxing holiday season, and a peaceful and prosperous start to 2016.