On November 29, the French Chamber held a seminar entitled “Manufacturing and technology in Japan, leading in a changing environment” with the collaboration of Hays Recruiting Experts Worldwide. Pierre-Jean Verge-Salamon, Senior Vice President of International Sales at UD Trucks was invited to speak about his experience within international companies in Japan. He presented his vision of team management, his belief in diversity and his hopes for the future.
Pierre-Jean Verge-Salamon, originally from France, had an experience of 13 years in the Volvo group and worked in several Asian countries before arriving in Japan 18 months ago for UD Trucks. Facing a totally different work culture meant he had to look for the right leadership balance.
UD Trucks is a challenger in the highly competitive Japanese market: having the least market share of the four main trucks manufacturers, they need to find ingenious and innovative ways to face bigger rivals. Adding to this situation is a world getting more and more globalized, a technology in this industry changing at the speed of light, and millennials having different standards from their elders. With its aging population, Japan is relatively conservative and yet has a strong appetite for technology. The company had to mind two big industry-specific challenges: “driving a truck is not popular” and because of the population shrinking in Japan there is a shortage of people who can drive them. For these reasons, UD Trucks is striving to make its technology “simple, comfortable and reliable”.
Verge-Salamon is at the head of a diverse team in term of genders, ages, and citizenship. He considers its diversity as a “leverage for their ambition” which purpose is to bring different perspectives. To bring such a heterogeneous group together, Verge-Salamon regularly organizes events outside the office. The company also offers a certain number of incentives, an example being flexible hours, to motivate the employees. Results seem to be visible as the employees’ happiness translates directly into an increase of the profits.
Even with all those improvements, UD Trucks is quite aware that things in Japan move slowly. The concept, called Nemawashi, of laying the foundation of a project by gathering slowly and consciously the support and feedbacks of the people concerned is still dominating the work culture. However, selflessness is at the core of every initiative and patience allows to overcome many challenges.