Jin-Ah Lim

Deputy General Manager,
Principal Strategic Investments
New York, USA

Jin-Ah Lim

I joined Mitsui in March 2008. It was an exciting opportunity because Mitsui has investments in so many different markets, industries and regions. I am now deputy general manager of the Principal Strategic Investments Department, which is part of the Corporate Development Business Unit. What we do every day is twofold. First, when other Mitsui business units want to pursue new investment opportunities, we help them identify targets, conduct due diligence, structure deal terms, and negotiate purchase agreements. Second, we help Mitsui portfolio companies implement major strategic initiatives such as bolt-on acquisitions, joint ventures, or divestures. By executing new investments and adding value to portfolio companies in this way, my department is helping Mitsui pursue innovation, enter into new markets, and maximize the financial potential of its assets.

Yes, the job has its challenges. Today’s market environment is very competitive, pushing buyers to pay high prices for assets and requiring them to move quickly when assessing businesses, conducting due diligence and negotiating. Also, the emergence of new technologies and start-ups is constantly testing traditional businesses. Picking the companies with the right capabilities to thrive in today’s fast-changing economy and structuring deals correctly in such a crowded marketplace are both critical to delivering successful strategic and financial results. To help Mitsui succeed in this challenging environment, we provide the latest market information to deal teams, leverage our external network to bring in appropriate subject-matter experts and advisors as needed, conduct thorough due diligence, and negotiate the best possible terms on transactions.

The 2014 acquisition of Delta, the Texas-based healthcare staffing company, is an important example of what my department does. A lot of thought went into the deal. We got involved when the Healthcare & Service Business Unit first started thinking about building a presence in the US healthcare staffing industry. We worked together on formulating a strategy, conducting industry analysis, and understanding the competitive landscape to be able to identify an investment target that would be a good fit for Mitsui. Once we’d done that, we helped the unit with their approach, with due diligence and with negotiating the stock purchase agreement. We worked closely with the deal team from the beginning to the end of the investment process. My department has also worked with various Mitsui business units on making investments in new markets and promising growth areas. For example, we worked hand-in-hand with the ICT and Mobility teams when they were looking to enter the industrial IoT and connectivity market by investing in Rajant, and with the Fashion & Retail team when they moved into the experiential retail market by investing in Indochino. Through these types of investments and partnerships, we help Mitsui achieve business innovation and digital transformation.

Jin-Ah Lim

Mitsui recently launched the Change Leader Program, a two-year program to promote the long-term career development of regional professionals like me. The kick-off session was held in Tokyo in late November 2018. The first part of the program gave us the opportunity to delve deep into Mitsui’s long-term vision and see how this vision is setting the framework for the strategic directions of each business unit. The second part provided a better understanding of the structure of our organization—how are decisions made? what requirements do we have to go through to get new projects approved? The third part was about getting exposure to senior executives in the headquarters office. As local hires, we often do our day-to-day job within our region without having access and visibility to senior executives, so meeting them was really beneficial. Lastly, getting to meet and participate in a leadership program with the other participants from all around the world and from different backgrounds was very encouraging. Now I’m trying to incorporate the understanding and empowerment I got from the program into my day-to-day job and hoping to achieve above and beyond what I was doing before.

How do I feel about working in a global company like Mitsui? I’m always impressed with the talented and driven people Mitsui has all over the world. Because our business is growing in over 60 countries and regions, the company is becoming more diverse with people from many different cultures. Our customers and business partners often say that “Mitsui is people,” and the No. 1 thing I’ve observed here is the commitment and dedication that the employees have to the company. Mitsui is a very group-driven organization and people are committed to this company for the long-term. These are the good qualities I have seen in my 10 years working here.

Personally, I apply three principles to my approach to work. First, there’s integrity, which means being honest with myself and others. Second, having a growth mindset—something I picked up from parenting books—which means always challenging yourself to try new things, grow and improve. And third, there’s embracing the importance of teamwork, because you can’t accomplish anything just by yourself.

What are my mid-term aspirations? In the past, my department mainly supported other business units’ initiatives and our influence was sometimes limited. Through the Change Leader Program, my goal for us is to get intimately involved in the frontline of the company’s business and get integrated in the full investment process from strategy formulation all the way to realization of successful investments. We want to play an even more integral role to make change happen at Mitsui.

Posted in March 2019