Global Talent – Driving Yamaha into the Future
General Manager, Global Human Resources Development Division, Human Resources & General Affairs Center, Phongstorn Ermongkonchai
First, please tell us about your background.
For my education, I studied business administration, majoring in marketing, at Assumption University of Thailand, graduating in 1987. After market research experience, I broadened my knowledge through master's degree studies in international business completed at the European University Business School in Switzerland in 1990, and later acquired a master of management in industrial psychology from Charles Sturt University in Australia in 2004. When I was responsible for human resources at Thai Yamaha Motor, I took another step to obtain a master of science in human resource management from the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University in 2009. Aside from my home country, I have experiences living in Taiwan, the U.S., Switzerland, France, and Australia.
I have been working with Yamaha Motor for 19 years at various assignments, such as market development, corporate planning, and corporate administration. Before coming to Japan, my position was Chief of Finance, Corporate Planning and Administration.
|Market Planning and Development||Business Plan. Export market, Lao & Cambodia, import bikes and multipurpose engines|
|Corporate Planning||Company restructuring
Adoption of Balanced Score Card method for strategy implementation
|Corporate Administration||New HRM system, new HRD system, integrated management systems (ISO), IT system, RM, CSR, and Corporate Projects|
|Chief of Finance, Corporate Planning and Administration||Thailand Group Company Management, Corporate functions to support business, External Affairs and Global HR Working Group|
About three months have passed since you assumed your post. Please give us your candid impressions about working at YMC (the head office). Please tell us what was like when you viewed YMC from outside, and now that you’re actually working inside the company.
Before I arrived, I was interested in three main points: motorcycle technology, the Global Company concept, and YMC's human resource practices. With regard to the first point, I wanted to know more about new technologies and how we could improve our market position. After three months, I still do not know the full answer. However, my viewpoint has broadened. At present I know more about the headquarters' organization and its wide scale of businesses. Yamaha has nineteen business units that serve customers worldwide. Looking forward, Yamaha's future is much wider than most people have thought. Yamaha is striving to stay ahead with multi-faceted business operations, and face global challenges.
Furthermore, I came to appreciate more Yamaha's heritage and its long and inspiring history as a world-class company. I realized that being here is to be part of the origin, the root of Yamaha. I can better understand the Yamaha Way that enabled the Group to stay competitive throughout the years: the pride of Yamaha in introducing many innovations, its success stories, and the sense of social responsibility embedded in its business. At a strategic level, Yamaha management is actively engaged in activities to achieve new breakthroughs in technologies and business practices.
On the second point, I knew that YMC wants to be a Global Company. I also knew that Yamaha's human resource personnel have been in action for a few years now. I knew that many things have to be done both in Japan and overseas. After three months, I understand the complexity of Yamaha's global subsidiaries. We have an excellent global network and people. I recognized that global challenges have to be managed. I greatly appreciate Yamaha's top management for their abilities to persevere and to grow the business worldwide to this day. In terms of human resources, we should have a good global human resource system that enables business leaders globally to perform well, rather than relying only on the abilities of top management in Japan. For me, working here, it is very motivating to hear from top management directly that Yamaha will truly be a Global Company.
With respect to the third point, I wondered if I could work in Japan with the cultural differences. I also do not understand the Japanese language. On the surface, Japanese and Thais have many things in common, but I felt that cultural differences were significant in many ways. Japanese are known to be very disciplined, analytical, hard-working, perfectionists regarding details, and good team players. Instead of thinking too much, I just considered it a great challenge. I was thinking of the big picture; if I can contribute to global HRD at YMC, it will be an effort truly worth doing.
After three months, I have taken the point more positively. It was clear that I am not the only person who feels pressure. The Japanese colleagues around me were curious about me as well. Cultural differences are not to be viewed as a barrier -- it is mutual interest in working together that matters. With our common goal of making Yamaha an excellent Global Company with the best human resource practices, my team and my colleagues can work well together. I found that YMC people are very professional, competitive, and forward-looking. At the same time, Japanese are courteous to foreigners, very polite, kind-hearted, and care about long-term relationships. Japanese tend to look at a person's intentions together with actions. If you have good intentions, the team will support taking the right action together with you.
The Global Human Resources Development Division was newly created this year. Please tell us what you hope to accomplish in the Global Human Resources Development Division?
The mission of the Global Human Resources Development Division has been clear since the beginning. According to the Yamaha Corporate Governance Guidelines, YMC is envisioned as a Global Company to be managed by global talent, regardless of background or nationality. With respect to our overseas subsidiaries, we have announced a target of 60% localization of executive positions by 2018. The mission of the Global HRD Division is to establish human resource management to ensure global business growth with sustainability. I am working to accomplish three main points to achieve a full-fledged Global Company.
For the first point, Global HRD will enhance the global talent that embodies the Yamaha brand. Doing so will enable this global talent to meet dynamic global challenges and grow the business over the long term. We have defined Yamaha's global leader competencies with top management. These competencies are composed of desirable Yamaha spirit and leadership behavior and qualities. We are in the process of creating a system to foster individuals who meet the required competencies. For implementation, we will launch employee development programs and evaluations to ensure corporate alignment at the global level.
For the second point, we will develop our global HRD system. We are aware that there are many national leaders who are very capable and ready to take leadership positions in overseas subsidiaries. The challenge is to create an effective succession management system to appoint the right person to the right job in the YMC group according to ability and adequacy, regardless of background or nationality. The system should be able to support the individual growth of potential candidates as next-generation leaders as well.
For the last point, we will develop the expertise of global HRD functionality in YMC. In order to become a strong, sustainable Global Company, we will need to have a strong HR headquarters. We will build a strong HR Division with an expert team, utilize IT applications for management decision-making, and provide support for overseas subsidiaries to strengthen local management.
At present, I feel lucky to have a capable global HRD team that is multicultural, active, and loyal to Yamaha. We have a good mix of professionals and young talent. Like any new venture, this division will have to meet the challenges of how to build up teamwork among people with different backgrounds, how to speed up the way individuals acquire HR expertise, and how to bring out the best from a multicultural team. We are moving forward with immediate activities at hand, while making sure that HR at headquarters has sufficient expertise to support the Global Company in the long run.
In your view, what kind of people are human resources who can be active on the global stage?
As our business involves competition at the global level, this question is quite valid. Nowadays, rapid changes in technologies and customer preferences worldwide are making the traditional way of business insufficient. In my opinion, there are several qualities that are required for human resources to be successful on the global stage.
Firstly, we need to have leading-edge knowledge in our professional fields. This means that we have to be active in self-learning, benchmarking our jobs with world-class best practices. After that, we need to try to apply the knowledge by customizing our own unique methods that are effective and suitable for our company. This may be one of the ways by which everyone can continuously improve at their jobs on the global stage.
Secondly, we should always think of the big picture of our jobs. This means knowing the company's strategy and direction, and making a clear linkage of our activities to the same direction. On the global stage there are many distractions and demands from our stakeholders. We should keep in mind the overall strategy, prioritize our energies, and move forward step by step to ensure short-term gain and long-term achievement.
Thirdly, we should develop our interpersonal and cross-cultural skills in order to have the right network for business. For global business operations, a good manager knows that we can get things done better through local people. Key persons will lead to key successes. We should have the ability to build trust through mutual respect. Business relationships and networks will then meet success in the long term.
Finally, we should have the right mindset. The classic quote of "think 'global', act 'local'" is always true. We should be considerate in bridging global interests and local interests. When doing global business, we should approach people with an open mind. There will always be differences and similarities between our ideas and others. With an open mind, we can give priority to similarities and build on them to achieve mutual business results. This also means that we should be patient. Things may not turn out as we expect. Do not be easily disturbed by difficulties in front of us. If we keep on thinking about how to achieve the big picture, we will always eventually attain it. Be patient -- continue working on our agenda and never give up.
Studied Business Administration at a university in Thailand, and gained experience in market research. Thereafter studied for a master's degree in International Business in Switzerland, and later acquired a Master of Management degree in Industrial Psychology in Australia. From 1997 was engaged in duties that included market development, corporate planning, and corporate administration at Thai Yamaha Motor, and during that time earned a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management. Came to Japan and assumed current post in the spring of 2016.