I came here for the first time twelve years ago on very short notice. The British
company I was working for said, "Go to Japan!" My response : where' Japan? They
needed a native English speaker to set up marketing and human resources and I was the
forward guard who came to help. Once the project was complete, I left Japan but I found,
as many people do, that I had come to love it. When I returned again in 1987 for an
American company, I ended up staying beyond my contract and I started my own company,
In Japan, I saw a clear opportunity. Since computing here is slightly behind that in
the West, there was a niche to be carved from the bigger temporary agencies by supporting
Japanese and foreign companies with specialist temporary staff. Advertising agencies and
design companies are a large part of our business and I wanted them to gather employees
they wouldn't have otherwise thought of hiring. A Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, for
example, would typically require most companies to train someone in how to do it, but
instead we supply highly-trained and specialized staff, many of which are bilingual
For the foreseeable future my company is in two growth areas. With economic conditions
improving, companies will use temps in a way they never did before. And the computer
industry is almost recession-proof. The Ministry of Labor has been extremely supportive of
what we're trying to do here. Still, I may be the only foreign President of a temporary
staffing company here in Tokyo.
I work most every day of the week for 12-14 hours but I try to take Sunday off every
now and then. I have a winter hobby and a summer hobby : skiing and off-road motorbiking.
I love both because when you're doing them you have to concentrate completely on what
you're doing ; it's a refreshing break from work. In Europe, if my friends want to go
skiing, they have to go for an entire week but here I have the flexibility to get away for
an odd weekend. I really like that aspect of life in Tokyo.
I like Tokyo especially, because even as a businessman I can go to art events and meet
all sorts of creative people, and although I'm wearing a suit no one treats you like an
imposter or an interloper ; you're just interested. I really enjoy being here and I plan
to be around for a long time.
Info. Panache 5489-7633.
Paul spoke with Vincent Szopa.
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