Career development theory and recent changes in human resource strategies of Japanese companies

Special Seminar

On Nov. 24, 2021, the MBA Program of Vietnam Japan University had an opportunity to attend the seminar “Career development theory and recent changes in human resource strategies of Japanese companies” presented by Mr.Keita Matsunami – Head of Mizuho Bank in Vietnam and General Director of Mizuho Bank Hanoi Branch. Mr. Matsunami has joined Fuji Bank (precursor of Mizuho Bank) since the 1990s. Mr. Matsunami has worked in many departments in different countries before being appointed to this senior position in Vietnam. With more than 30 years of working experience at Mizuho bank, he introduced three main sections. (1) Overview of Mizuho bank and High Economic Growth Period in Japan, (2) Human resources management model at Mizuho bank with the changed strategy to respond to the new era. (3) Suggesting career theories and their application in career path development. 

Having more than 100 branches and 60,000 employees, Mizuho Bank is one of the fifteen largest banks in the world. After more than 140 years of establishment and development, Mizuho Bank is one of the largest multi-service financial groups in the world (full-service financial conglomerate). In Vietnam, Mizuho is one of the first Japanese banks to enter the Vietnamese market. Currently, the bank has two branches (one in Hanoi and one in HCMC) with more than 300 employees, meeting the demand of more than 2000 corporate customers and projects. In 2011, Mizuho entered strategic investment cooperation with Vietcombank – one of the largest commercial banks in Vietnam – to access and provide customized services in Vietnam.

During the seminar, Mr. Matsunami talked about the history of Japan’s miraculous development after World War II. One of the factors driving the remarkable economic growth of Japan post-war and its rise to become one of the world’s leading economic powers was its unique personnel system, known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan: seniority-based salary system, lifetime employment, and labor union organized on a company basis. This Japanese-style employment system is called membership type, in contrast to the job type in Europe and the US, and is highly adaptable to the Japanese business models in Japan at the time. However, as times change, businesses are constantly faced with the threat of VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Meanwhile, several serious issues have emerged in Japan, including an aging society, declining birth rate, digitalization, and globalization, which require significant changes in Japan’s human resource management system.

Japanese-style employment system

Mizuho Bank – a large bank operating under a typical Japanese human resource management system – is no exception with this urgent need for change. Therefore, Mizuho has come up with a new HR strategy to quickly respond to the new era. Applying the business philosophy of “Sanpo Yoshi,” which means “Three-way (seller, buyer, and society) Satisfaction,” Mizuho Bank has built a 5-year plan to benefit customers, society, and the bank itself with a new term, “Conversion to Next Generation Financial.” The new business strategy was built with the reformation of three main pillars of Mizuho’s business model, which includes business – finance – administration, in order to eliminate mismatches and to respond quickly to customer needs. In particular, the management reform is built according to the new human resource development method based on customers’ needs and changes in business owners’ perceptions. Instead of just focusing on solving customers’ traditional financial needs such as savings, loans, payments, etc., Mizuho Bank has incorporated more non-financial solutions to create the connection between experts and different industries to create new experiences for customers. The perception of business owners also changed from the mindset of only focusing on competition to the mindset of focusing on the business they want and develop. In addition, Mizuho has applied a combination of many career development theories for its employees. The bank changed its employee training policy, focusing on creating opportunities for each employee to design their own career, ready to accept challenges, learn and develop during working at the company instead of just following the same pre-defined path of the traditional human resource management system. This model has maximally combined the wishes and abilities of employees with the tasks to be completed by the organization. As a result, the new model helps create motivation and creativity of each employee at work towards business activities and achieve the effective and sustainable business of the bank.

Shifting focus from Internal Competition Principles for advancement to Employee Desire and Growth Work

During the seminar, students of the MBA program learned about the theory of career development and also experienced more about Mizuho Bank’s new adaptations to the new era. Finally, the MBA intake students would like to express their sincerest thanks to speaker Mr. Keita Matsunami and the program for combining and creating the past practical knowledge-based seminar.

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