A relaxed and candid interview with our new CEO

City Computer Co., Ltd. President and Representative Director Masatomo Kawahara

Going forward, how do you want to do things, and what is your new management policy?
Also, as a young CEO, what appeals to you about working at City Computer?

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    First of all, congratulations on your appointment as CEO!
    Today, I would like to ask you about your new management policy and what appeals to you about working at City Computer.
    I would like to ask you to relax and let’s keep the conversation casual until the end.
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    First of all, one of my policies for the future is to create a work environment with a lot of buzz, like a venture company.
    To achieve this, I think it is important for everyone to be able to do what they want to do. In other words, there will be lots of opportunities for trying out new ideas.
    Even if that “new idea” is something that another company would consider off the wall or an obstacle, by sharing it, I think it will lead to a new kind of teamwork.
    As a company, we have not yet established such a system, but in future I would like to spread the kind of culture where people can achieve what they truly want to do.
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    What do you think will be the key theme for City Computer in the future?
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    The spirit of challenging oneself. This is related to what I said earlier, but I believe that the desire to do something, the goals, and the sense of fulfillment are especially important factors in work. From a personal point of view, I think it is a virtuous cycle of creating a sense of fulfillment by taking up a challenge, which in turn leads to a new sense of accomplishment, and it is exactly the same for the company. Therefore, I believe that taking the initiative in taking on challenges will lead to the creation of a fun and friendly company. When I think about the meaning of a company, I think it is to allow each worker to find their own goals and fulfillment.
    If you have not yet found your goals and fulfillment, I would like to create a company where you can experience and share your fulfillment while working.
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    What kind of people are you hoping will join CCK?
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    People who are constantly challenging themselves! (laughs)
    I would like to work with people who are determined to overcome any obstacles that may come their way.
    Of course, we are also looking for people who can toil away behind the scenes.
    Most of the people at the core of the company are always fired up and ready to take on a challenge, but that is not the only thing that keeps a company running. It will only run well if it has a lot of employees who do their jobs well, so I think the key is to have a balance between offense and defense. I think we have to find the right balance in how we go on the offensive or defensive.

Getting the inside story on becoming the new president!
What do you mean by saying if the previous president was a tuna, you are an elephant?

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    Can you tell us about when you were first approached about becoming president?
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    One of the things that led to my appointment as president was the review of the internal evaluation system and the clarification of the roles of individuals and the organization. I think it was important to have such a system in place. There are still some loose ends to be tied up, but I believe systematization will lead to greater things.
    Actually standing at the top of the company, however, I am amazed at how completely different the world looks from up here. I guess that is the difference between being number one and being number two. At any rate, there are still a lot of things that I lack. I believe that I am required to provide a sense of security and to play a role as the organization.
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    Are you conscious of the intentions of your predecessors?
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    The biggest issue is how to keep the “flame” of City Computer burning.
    The current chairman is the type of person who, figuratively speaking, carries his own gasoline around and burns with fiery passion. He was a president with a strong sense of being the one who would create the fire. The energy to set oneself on fire is an essential element for the growth of a company, but I think I am more the type of person who is good at bringing others together to keep the fire burning, rather than firing myself up. I think I should focus my efforts on helping everyone to keep on burning with passion.
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    There are many examples around the world of the second generation failing. How should we inherit the charisma of the first generation?
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    As I mentioned earlier, the chairman is a “fiery” type and I am a “firing up” type, and as managers, the chairman and I are completely different. I think that it would be difficult for me to inherit the charisma of my predecessor in its original form and to try to do so would not be the best course of action. I think what is required of me is to exert myself in the areas in which I excel.
    In my case, my basic stance is to make the flame bigger by involving the people around me. In order to achieve this, I think it is necessary to create an environment in which even people who say they are not good at burning with passion can play an active role. It is also important for us to develop our strength as an organization in order to build on what has been built so far in a more profound way.
    If my predecessor was a tuna sprinting through the ocean, I am an elephant plodding along on the ground. I want to be sure that everyone can follow me with confidence as I journey forward. Besides, elephants don’t fall over easily. (laughs)

What does your private life look like?
And do you have a message for people who are looking for a job?

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    As you get busier and busier, how is your relationship with your four children?
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    In terms of balancing work and home life, I value a good balance. It may be difficult to finish work on time and spend time with my family, but I have come to think that I want to increase my work density even if the hours are short. I want to show my children that their father is working hard. For example, like a famous baseball player, I would like to stay active until I am remembered well by my children.
    Also, there is a complete difference in the sense of values between the past and now. A decade or so ago, there was a tendency to think that work was everything in life. But that is not the case now. In other words, I want our employees to think about the importance of work-life balance. I want them to concentrate on increasing productivity when they are working, and to take a good rest when they need it. The important thing is to have a good balance. I would like to create such a working environment by taking the initiative in doing so myself.
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    So, what do you do to relax when you are not working?
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    For relaxation, I like to play golf. For me, meeting people is the source of my energy. Golf is the best way for me to exercise and to relax. I also like to take a bath, so public baths are a good way for me to relax.
    However, even when I’m not working, it’s impossible to completely separate myself from work, so I am conscious of the need for a good balance.
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    Now for the last question.
    Do you have a message for anyone who is considering joining City Computer?
    New President/CEO Kawahara
    First of all, I would like you to listen carefully and find out what we do and what we can do. I want people who understand the appeal of City Computer to join us. As long as you have the basic skills, you will have the chance to get a global job, including overseas aspirations and employment of foreigners in Japan. If you think you can do something interesting at our company, please knock on our door. In this case, age and nationality are of no concern.
    When I think about the future of business, “global” is a key theme. Already, the Japanese economy cannot be sustained without overseas contacts. We are approaching an era where it will be difficult to do business only within Japan. CCK is also focusing on overseas business, and as a company, I believe that we should not do business only in Japan, and that we must not lose our relationship with our overseas partners. I would like to convey such views to Japanese who are interested in overseas and foreigners who are interested in Japan, regardless of nationality.