Speech at the 2014 Induction Ceremony

Apr. 1, 2014

Main Contents

Congratulations, everyone, on joining Mitsui & Co., Ltd. My name is Masami Iijima, president and CEO.

Seeing you here about to embark on your career with Mitsui reminds me of my own experience when I joined Mitsui exactly 40 years ago, in 1974. So today I would like to offer you some thoughts and words of encouragement, based on my four decades of experience in Mitsui.

The business environment

First, let me talk about the business environment.

The global economy is generally expected to show moderate overall growth, and in Japan there are increasing expectations for economic revitalization with Abenomics. Of course, there are still a great many uncertainties, including political instability in North Korea, the Middle East and Ukraine, and the shadow banking problem in China, but as a company we are generally encouraged by the current global business environment.

From a longer term perspective, the global population is likely to increase from 7 billion now to around 9 billion in 2050. We are seeing an ever-increasing connection between countries, companies and people amid globalization and technological advances, and we envision a spread of prosperity as the work force and growth potential of emerging nations is combined with the funding and technology of nations that are already mature.

There are a great number of problems that will have to be solved during the process of this growth. People and nations need a stable supply of essential commodities such as metals, energy and food; they need infrastructure such as power, transportation and communications; and they need fundamental services such as healthcare and education. There are also environmental issues to address concomitant with economic development, and we need to realize a sustainable society with contented citizens.

Mitsui has always been a company that generates business by meeting the needs of society. So when the global outlook is viewed in this context, I think it is clear that our business arena is likely to steadily increase.

Challenge and Innovation

Since the formation of the former Mitsui in 1876, we have continuously taken on the challenge of generating business by providing essential goods and services for people around the world. This encompasses a broad number of things, from intangible, knowledge-based solutions to various problems, through to technology and manufactured goods.

Takashi Masuda, the first president of the former Mitsui & Co., advised his colleagues to "Avoid infatuation with immediate advantage. To achieve enduring prosperity, harbor grand aspirations." My interpretation of "enduring" is the value we can create by engaging in business that the world needs. I want Mitsui to continue being a company that takes on the challenge of meaningful work and creates new value. This is the spirit of 'Challenge & Innovation' that is coded into our corporate DNA.

With the entire world as our arena, Mitsui is the embodiment of 'Challenge & Innovation'. I am sure that each of you here today has arrived at Mitsui with your own dreams and aspirations. I promise you that Mitsui has unlimited potential for people who dream of performing business that serves society, and who want to dedicate their careers to realizing grand aspirations. And I want you to quickly experience the satisfaction and meaning of making an effective contribution to the challenge & innovation that defines our company.

Becoming a trusted professional

So the question is, how can you develop quickly to make an effective contribution? I believe the first priority is to become a trusted professional.

To be recognized as an asset by your colleagues, you must first earn their trust as a person. An important part of this is to sincerely and responsibly carry out your immediate work, and to fulfill the role assigned to you. Knowledge alone is not enough. You need to develop as a rounded person, balancing ethics and ambition with humility and appreciation for the work of others.

In your first year in the workforce, not everything you do will have a direct impact on society. You may even feel a gap between your expectations and the reality of your job, or feel like you are still a long way from realizing your ambitions. However, please keep in mind that your more experienced colleagues and managers are looking out for you, and want to help you progress. Please do your best, show that you can get results, and start earning the trust needed to succeed as a professional. As you become more trusted as a person you will be given more responsibility, and with more responsibility your work will become even more interesting.

Challenge yourself and improve in the process

It's a reality of business that even if you give your very best, sometimes you will still fail. Risk and failure are integral components of any challenge. If you never experience failure, it's a sign that you are not pushing the limits to be the very best you can be.

Fear of failure prevents progress. We have to develop a solid case for action and then take on the challenge. The important things are to reduce the risk of failure by preparing thoroughly; to acknowledge failure rapidly if it happens, and to understand the reason for failure so that the lessons can be applied to future challenges. This is how we can create new value, and sharpen our competitive abilities as individuals and as a company.

Our company has a culture of open-mindedness, and this is the spirit in which I want you all to think carefully, share your ideas with colleagues, and continually take on new challenges without being overly fearful of failure. Through gaining experience of these moments of truth at the front line of business, you will discover your real abilities and turn failure into valuable experience that helps you grow as a person.

So please remember: challenge yourself and improve in the process.

Finally, I want you to know that Mitsui is a company that puts a tremendous amount of effort into fostering our human resources. In fact, it is often said that "Mitsui is people". The core of our training is at the business front line, and that is where each of you will face critical situations and learn so much. We support this on-the-job training with a range of specific learning programs to help everyone improve their personal power and increase the competitiveness of the company overall.

Today, as you embark on your career with Mitsui & Co., I want you to think back on the dreams and aspirations that you so energetically expressed in your interviews one year ago. You have now walked onto the stage of a grand theatre with the opportunity to make those dreams a reality. I urge you to make the best of your talents, work hard together, and seize this opportunity with both hands.

Thank you very much.