The Foreign Leader Who Manages 2000 Employees
『The Foreign Leader Who Manages 2000 Employees』~INTERVIEW~ Head Executive of the HIS, Mr. SawadaWe interviewed the head of HIS, Mr. Hideo Sawada who advocates the employment of foreign workers.
Interviewer: Miss Kyou
Interviewee: MR Hideo Sawada
The original entrepreneurial venture industry created many opportunities for young people to travel abroad. Mr. Sawada is the founder of HIS, an even bigger and better version of his original entrepreneurial venture, which has expanded to group business enterprise in the areas of tourism, finance, aviation and hotels. Today, he shared his story with our interviewer, Kyou, who is a Chinese student studying in Japan.
My policy is that humans were created on Earth so it is important to maintain the balance between humans and nature.
Question 1: HIS is best known as a Japanese tour company for traveling abroad. What makes HIS better than other tour companies? What is the appeal of HIS?
Answer 1: We are the best at providing personal travel compared to other companies. If you try to travel alone through other companies it is normally quite expensive. Through HIS, however, the air tickets are very cheap and that’s why it is so popular. Also, the average age of our management staff is in the twenties and thirties. We can hope for further development using the talents of young employees.
Q 2: I found out on the internet that thirty years ago the cost of air tickets for traveling from Tokyo to London cost 700,000 yen but today it costs approximately 80,000 yen, depending on the season. Would you please tell us about your story as a leading pioneer in your industry and about selling cheap air tickets?
A 2: Twenty something years ago it was extremely hard for young people to travel overseas because of the cost. That is why we started selling tickets which were affordable to them. However, because of this generous deal of ours, we encountered many troubles and great pressure from the major tour companies. It was a challenge for us. The biggest problem we had at the time was that, even though we offered a good business deal of half-priced air tickets, it wasn’t easy for us to gain the trust of the customers considering we were a small, unknown tour company. We worked in a very small office with very few staff and we used to hand customers their tickets on the very day they left at the airport. For the first few months, even though some customers came to our office, no one really purchased our tickets. It did, however, gain popularity with the younger age groups and eventually the rumors about our good deals gradually started spreading throughout many travelers and became a widespread fact.
Profile of Hideo Sawada BREAKTHROUGH BUSINESS LEADER
He was born in Osaka, February 1951. After graduating from the Ikuno Technical High School in Osaka, he studied at the Mainz University of Former East Germany between the years of 1973 and 1976. He earned pocket money from working part-time and traveled to over 50 countries in Europe, Middle-East, Africa, South America and Asia. When he came back to Japan he tried to travel again through Japanese travel agencies but every company disappointed him with their extremely expensive fees when compared to those of other countries. Since then he started to differentiate between the tourism system of Japan and that of other countries. In 1980 he established his own tour company called “International Tours” and succeeded in providing his own products, including package tours for individuals to destinations such as India, which was based on the reasonable price of air tickets. He changed the company name to HIS in 1990 and launched on JASDAQ in March 1995. In November 1996, he opened his hotel on the Gold Coast, Australia. In September 1998, he made the headlines by launching Japan’s fourth airline company, “Skymark Airlines”, and started his new business that provided customers with airline tickets that were half the price of other airline companies’ ticket fees. In January 1999, he acquired corporate stock of Kyoritsu Securities Company and became the President of HIS SECURITIES Co, Ltd and aimed to emerge in the finance industry.
Q 3: What kind of talent is HIS looking for in workers today? What do you think of employing foreigners?
A 3: First of all, personality. We want someone positive, active and motivated. We have already been hiring foreigners since we started. To tell you the truth, the leader of the management team in Kanto, who controls over 2000 staff, is from Bangladesh. Many leaders of the branch offices overseas are from Sri Lanka, America and Australia, with most of them possessing the experience of working at the branch offices in Japan. In HIS if somebody works really hard they can be promoted based on their work, regardless of their race or education. This system is very unusual for a Japanese company.
Q 4: What are the things that you want to challenge the most? And what do you do to achieve your goals?
A 4: HIS has become famous enough in Japan today but I would like to see my company widespread all over the world. There are 70 offices abroad but I would like the number expand to 100 - 200 in the future.
We talked about your business stories but now we would like to ask you some questions about your private life…
Q 5: Could you tell me your favorite quote or saying?
A 5: Take care of the natural province. My policy is that humans were created on Earth so it is important to maintain the balance between humans and nature.
Q 6: It must be stressful being busy everyday as head of the HIS group. What is your usual method of relaxation? Do you have any unique relaxation techniques?
A 6: Once every few months I go on a business trip overseas. I’m a great lover of traveling so the best way to relax is to experience many new things in different places as it is really fresh and enjoyable. For my health, I play golf as well.
Q 7: What was the reason behind your decision to study in Germany? What have you learnt and felt through the experience of studying abroad?
A 7: At the time, people usually went to America or the UK but I chose Germany because I was always different. Germany is located at the centre of Europe so it was convenient for someone like me who loves traveling very much. What I felt through these times is that there are so many people with so many different opinions and perspectives so it was fun to discover these things during my travels.
Q 8: Do you have any advice for those trying to find a job? Since its December, it’s probably time for them to be serious about getting jobs.
A 8: I want them to have a clear goal when they look for a job. Also, once they get a job, I want them to hold onto that job. Not everyone can get the job they want to do from the start but it is really important to build yourself up as a working adult.
Q 9: I am also looking for a job now in Japan. As an exchange student I struggle everyday and sometimes things don’t go so well. The employment situation for us is still very tough in Japan and I would like to ask you, what kind of foreigners would you like to see employed by your company?
A 9: Like you said, the situation is still really tough for you guys to get a job in the major industries of Japan. However, even though you come from a different country, it is all about being able to communicate with Japanese people without any problems and, most importantly, that you are positive, motivated and do not hesitate to do your job to your best ability…then you will definitely find a good job. Never give up on your hopes and dreams… things can only get better!
Kyou: Thank you so much for your time today!
Chinese student experience
I interviewed the President of HIS, Mr. Sawada yesterday. He overcame many obstacles to expand his company and is still meeting challenges for the future. His bright smile was very impressive to me. I was so drawn to his words and stories through this interview, especially the story about when he was studying in Germany. He also gave me advice for when I look for a job in Japan and it was so encouraging. It was my first time to interview someone and I think I gained a great experience through listening to his story.
Interviewer: Ms Kyou