What kind of HR/organization-related problems were you aware of at the time?
We had about a hundred staff involved in the Changi Airport Terminal 1 expansion project. Out of the hundred, only two were Japanese. The rest of the team were made of people from 9 different nationalities, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar. People of different countries of origin have different work styles and have different ways of seeing things. Discord can arise over very trivial matters. Also, as Asians are generally shy, there are people who are not good in expressing themselves. The management had to be proactive in initiating communication. There were times where we, as Japanese, were unable to tell that there was a problem or not through mere observation. Thus, I felt that it was necessary to make regular and deliberate effort to understand the thoughts and feelings of each of our hundred employees.
What about the development of human talent?
In our company, we have policies put in place to promote the development of local talent in our overseas businesses so that local staff can eventually operate the business independently. The local staff will not be able to grow if the Japanese always maintain control at the top. The locals will neither see an increase in their level of motivation nor develop a sense of responsibility over the business. I think our managers should start to pick out exceptional local staff. I would like to create a culture wherein employees would think and act independently, instead of always waiting for instructions from the higher-ups. To this end, the development of local talent is an important issue to look into. Development of their management sense and skill, and of their level of responsibility should take precedence.