A conversation with the CEO
The Future of DIC
On February 15, 2018, DIC celebrated its 110th anniversary. Taking advantage of this important milestone, DIC Plaza spoke to the CEO about the current operating environment, as well as his outlook for the future, including key priorities and his expectations of Group employees.
There are some things that must be preserved,
even in the face of social change.
Q: Can you give us your candid impression of your new role since becoming CEO?
A: Thank you for asking. Insofar as I have accepted the appointment, I honestly believe that my mandate is to do my utmost to carry out my duties. It is a significant responsibility, but one that I will not shy away from. Rather, I will keep my eyes focused firmly forward as I work to help bring the DIC Group closer toward what it ultimately aspires to be.
Q: Your first year as CEO coincided with DIC’s 110th anniversary. What are your thoughts on this?
A: Printing inks have been a key business ever since our establishment, and account for the bulk of our sales. Businesses that last 110 years are pretty rare, you know? I find myself once again marveling at our good fortune in having inherited such an invaluable business from our founders. That said, today we operate in an environment characterized by changes that differ in nature from anything we have faced in our history. For example, the telephone took more than 50 years to come into widespread use. In contrast, Facebook took only a year to gain worldwide popularity. The pace of change is astonishing. In a sense, I see this as the new normal. Amid such rapid and drastic changes, how do materials manufacturers contribute to society going forward? As we work to adapt resilient businesses passed on to us by our founders to this new normal, we must also look at how to handle change, as well as how to accelerate the creation of new businesses. Having been appointed CEO in the same year as we celebrate our 110th anniversary, I view this as an important mission.
Q: In other words, it is difficult to lead a company today based on what things will be like 100 years from now?
A: Yes, exactly. No one knows what will happen 100 years from now! And yet, no matter how our operating configurations and business models change, I do not see our commitment to maintaining key attributes that we have built up over a century while striving to remain an organization worthy of society’s trust ever changing. Nor do I believe that it should change.
Q: The times may change, but the importance of a sense of ethics never will?
A: It is a quality that will be expected of all leaders in the future. For example, we often wonder if humans will someday be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI). According to one academic, if we look at it philosophically, the answer is easy: AI will only fully replace humans if our sense of ethics collapses. I also think that it’s difficult to address compliance issues, among others, with AI alone. I believe firmly that the ability to make appropriate judgments in the future will continue to require true intelligence, encompassing a philosophical view that includes a sense of ethics, as well as historical and religious understanding, making it possible to accurately grasp the essence of matters.
Q: What image will DIC aspire to under your guidance?
A: The key to everything is our Color & Comfort brand slogan, which is based on our Color & Comfort by Chemistry management vision, encapsulating our desire to leverage chemistry to bring color and comfort to people’s lives. This distinctive slogan really conveys DIC’s DNA. Capitalizing on this foundation, we will strive to address social imperatives and contribute to society by working with Group employees, customers and shareholders to create value and to ultimately build DIC into a truly global company that is trusted by the market and by society.
Q: What sort of efforts will be necessary to realize that image?
A: We currently enjoy a leading share of the global markets for printing inks, pigments and compounds, among others. To address a greater range of social imperatives going forward, we must cultivate new businesses in which we have the potential to earn global market-leading positions.
Q: Can you give us some concrete examples of the types of businesses you envision?
A: Such businesses will most likely be in areas that offer potential synergies with base technologies in our printing inks, pigments, polymers and other core businesses. Managing risks in areas too far off the grid presents a challenge, but in areas peripheral to businesses in which we have base technologies we are able to respond effectively. I think it is also important for us to make bolder changes to our current business portfolio.
Marshaling the diversity individuals will drive
DIC’s transformation into a truly global company.
Q: Fiscal year 2018 is the final year of our current medium-term management plan. What do you expect from Group employees in the year ahead?
A: Recent developments around the world have really brought home the fact that we are in an age where individuals can change society. Facebook and Twitter even influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election! DIC itself is not unaffected by this trend. It is important to recognize that marshaling the diversity of the individuals that make up our labor force will enable us to respond to social imperatives or even to change DIC itself. We will step up environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related initiatives with the aim of ensuring sustainable growth in corporate value, as well as promote diversity in management. That means advancing opportunities for female employees, of course, but as a group with close to 200 companies in more than 60 countries around the world we have a vast range of exceptional human resources. I want to create work environments that empower individuals to fully exercise their abilities. I am also confident that if we can formulate our next medium-term management plan and future vision in a manner that makes employees feel like active participants, we will succeed in positioning DIC for dramatic growth.
Q: The key is marshaling the diversity of individuals?
A: Yes. This is where my biggest hopes are for Group employees. Team building has helped me overcome numerous difficulties in my career. I think it is important for employees across the DIC Group to share a common vision while at the same time respecting each other’s unique views and preferences.
Q: You also value the cultivation of human resources.
A: To foster the diverse skills and mindset necessary to navigate markets worldwide, as well as to respond effectively to increasingly global stakeholders, I want to create an atmosphere that makes it possible for employees of different genders and backgrounds to rapidly absorb other cultures. I believe that doing so will help add further luster to the DIC brand worldwide.
Q: What do you see as being your biggest strength?
A: Ha! I’m probably not the best judge, but I would say that it’s the fact that I’m both laid back and meticulous in equal measure.
Q: Laid back? In what way?
A: I find that things go better if you start with a macro-level approach than if you try to build up from the micro level. Ultimately, you have to shift to a micro-level approach, but if you start there you will not get an accurate overview. It’s like looking at a room from the ceiling—you can see everything, so you know immediately if anything is off. My predecessor, Yoshiyuki Nakanishi, frequently used the expression “broad perspective and a narrow focus.” When we are young, we have a tendency to attack our work with a very narrow focus, but as we move up the corporate ladder a broad perspective becomes critical. That said, if a broad perspective is all you have you will never grasp the issues that are only visible to someone with a narrow focus. I am determined never to forget the importance of maintaining a narrow focus so that I am aware of what is happening on the front lines.
Q: Being laid back essentially means taking a broad perspective, then? Regardless, it is certainly an attractive quality.
A: That is quite a compliment, thank you. I suspect that my family just thinks I’m a bit flaky, though!
Q: We all look forward to dramatic growth in the years ahead. Thank you for your time today.
Getting to Know the New CEO
President and CEO, DIC Corporation
Date and place of birth:September 15, 1957,
Chiba Prefecture (Age: 60)
|・March 1976||Graduated from Chiba Prefectural Funabashi High School|
|・March 1981||Graduated from Waseda University (School of Political Science and Economics)|
|・April 1981||Joined the Company; assigned to the Finance Department|
|・June 1993||Temporary assignment to P.T. Pardic Jaya Chemicals (Indonesia) (attached to Human Resources Department)|
|・June 1997||Temporary assignment to DIC Polymer & Chemicals Asia, Pte., Ltd. (Singapore)|
|・February 1999||Manager, Synthetic Resins Overseas Administrative Division|
|・April 2001||Manager, Industrial Materials Business Planning Department|
|・October 2002||General Manager, Industrial Materials Business Planning Department|
|・April 2005||General Manager, Related Business, Purchasing & Logistics Administration Planning Department|
|・April 2008||General Manager, Finance Department|
|・April 2011||General Manager, Purchasing and Logistics Department|
|・April 2012||Executive Officer; General Manager, Corporate Planning Department|
|・January 2014||Executive Officer; In Charge of Corporate Strategy Division; General Manager, Corporate Planning Department|
|・January 2015||Executive Officer; In Charge of Corporate Strategy Division|
|・January 2016||Managing Executive Officer; In Charge of Corporate Strategy Division and Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art|
|・March 2016||Director; Managing Executive Officer; In Charge of Corporate Strategy Division and Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art|
|・January 2018||Representative Director; President and CEO|
|Hobbies：||Golf, reading, playing the guitar|
|Favorite foods：||Beef, cheese, red wine|
|Sports team you support：||Yomiuri Giants (baseball)|
|Personality：||Basically easygoing, but surprisingly stubborn when I put my mind to something!|
|Recent happy event：||My mother’s 88th birthday|
|Approach to relieving stress：||Playing golf or tennis|
|Favorite musicians：||Miyuki Nakajima, Kenny G|
|Particularly memorable book：||Ryoma ga Yuku by Ryotaro Shiba|
|Motto：||“Do the right thing and do the thing right!”|
|Drinking habits：||Nonalcoholic beer plus two glasses of wine with dinner when at home|
|Historical person you admire：||Sakamoto Ryoma|