Yoshito Hori speaks about leadership lessons with enthusiasm in a suit and tie

I left for Haneda Airport at 10 p.m. on November 15 after finishing a class on entrepreneurial leadership. At Haneda, I boarded a 12:30 flight to Singapore. Arriving in Singapore the next morning, I boarded a connecting flight to Auckland, New Zealand, around 10 a.m. local time. It was past 12 midnight local time when I arrived at my hotel in Auckland. There is a four-hour time difference between Tokyo and Auckland, so the trip to New Zealand took me 20 hours.

The meeting I was going to attend was scheduled to start at 9 the next morning. I decided to go to bed early after clearing my inbox full of unopened emails.

The annual meeting of the Association of Asia-Pacific Business Schools (AAPBS) got underway the next morning. The AAPBS was launched several years ago. Under the leadership of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) of South Korea, schools in Asia and the Pacific, such as Tsinghua University in China and Keio University in Japan, started the AAPBS as its founders. The purpose of this association is cooperation among business schools in Asia and the Pacific.

This organization counts as its members prestigious schools in Japan, China, South Korea, other Asian countries and Australia. More than 20 schools from China participate. But only a few schools in Japan and South Korea have AAPBS membership. The remaining members are schools from places such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, and Australia. GLOBIS is taking an official part in this association for the first time. As a newcomer allowed to sit at the far end of the AAPBS table, I exchanged polite greetings with each one of the participants.

The goal of GLOBIS is to become the top graduate school in Asia. Cooperative relations with business schools in Asia and the Pacific are indispensable for achieving this target. Earning a good reputation in this community is essential. 
The AAPBS is an ideal place for networking in this region.

All management-level staff at GLOBIS take active part in international conferences. When they do so, the minimum requirements GLOBIS sets for them are as follows: (1) Exchange business cards with 50 or more people. (2) Speak at least twice in sessions. (3) Report on the business trip to all GLOBIS employees afterwards. I have been trying to fulfill the business card and speech requirements myself. I must take the initiative and set a good example for others to follow.

The dean of the University of Auckland Business School, which hosted this year’s AAPBS annual meeting, greeted participants from 9 a.m. Then, the annual meeting for business schools in Asia and the Pacific opened with words and songs performed live by a group of Maori artists. Greetings by the dean of the University of Queensland, who holds the presidency of the AAPBS this year, , followed. After that, the dean of the University of Auckland Business School spoke again as the host of the meeting.

The word “dean” may be unfamiliar to many people in Japan. It refers to the most senior person in a business school. The dean usually comes under the umbrella of the president of a university. The term, kenkyukacho (director of postgraduate courses), is often used to refer to the same position in Japan, but I prefer to use the word “dean“ in the rest of this column to convey the atmosphere of the meeting.

There are 4 million people in New Zealand. A quarter of them live in or near Auckland. The closest country to New Zealand is Australia. It is also the closest country to Antarctica in the eastern hemisphere. New Zealand is one of the most isolated economic zones in the world. The theme for this year’s AAPBS annual meeting was “Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Internationalisation.” It was an area where I have proven my strength.

New Zealand boasted the third-largest GDP per capita in the world in the 1950s. But the country has since fallen to the 30th place. Entrepreneurship is essential in regaining their economic strength. The University of Auckland Business School has been making extensive endeavors to that end, said a report from the university.

I leaned about an interesting initiative called “SPARK”, . an attempt to foster entrepreneurship through a business plan contest. Since its launch of about 10 years ago, this initiative have apparently gathered investments in excess of 7 billion yen and created jobs for more than 300 people. Two entrepreneurs who actually received funding from SPARK were at the meeting to deliver their talks. Their ideas were truly global. I asked my first question at the AAPBS annual meeting at that point. “How are you planning to make an exit?” After all, businesses in New Zealand are small. Listed markets have not well developed. Naturally, operations focus on selling businesses to overseas corporations. But do overseas companies really have an interest in a market for just 4 million people? It made me re-appreciate the advantages that the Japanese market offers to us.

The talks delivered by professors formed the core of other programs, which were lengthy and boring. These speeches brought home to me how high our lecturers’ skills are at GLOBIS.

After the last session on the first day, which closed at 6 p.m., we took a bus to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Haka war cries greeted us on arrival. It was a Maori-style welcome. All leaders in New Zealand seem to speak Maori. I was wowed at first, but lost interest after a while because everyone could do the same. At the Museum, I learned that Polynesians who first made their way into the Philippines reached New Zealand around the 10th century. The Maori people are basically Asians.

I enjoyed dinner at a makeshift restaurant set up by the entrance to the Museum. The red wine served there, particularly the Pinot Noir, was delicious. The wine made me a little tipsy.

The second day of the AAPBS annual meeting began at 9 the next morning. I was not a designated speaker at this meeting. It was the first conference in a long time where I was just a floor participant. The AAPBS gave this newcomer no chance to deliver a talk. Under the circumstances, I chose to speak from the floor. The important thing was to make my presence felt casually while contributing to the discussions. I think I made a pretty good debut in that regard.

What I realized at this annual meeting is that there are many business schools in Asia and the Pacific. But the Graduate School of Management, GLOBIS University compares favorably with them in both scale and quality. In fact, our school seemed to outshine them. GLOBIS University will start offering a full-time MBA program in English next year. I feel that we have reached the starting line at long last. The difficult part awaits us beyond that line.

The AAPBS annual meeting concluded at 2 p.m. on the second day. The Graduate School of Business Administration, Keio University will take over the Association’s presidency next year. I conveyed my intention to the dean of the Keio Business School that GLOBIS will “offer unstinting support for the success” for the next year. I then met up with a New Zealand-based business executive that I look up to, and enjoyed exchanging pleasant chats with him from 3p.m. until 11 p.m.

The AAPBS had nothing planned for us on Saturday. I wondered how I should spend this free day in New Zealand. After some thought, I decided to rent a car and appreciate nature while getting the feel of this country. First, I visited a winery called the Kumeu River. Then, I drove the car around a hill covered with a virgin forest called Waitakere.

Light came in as I drove. I could feel the negative ions from the forest. My car reached a beach on the west coast called Piha. The view from this high point took my breath away. Piha is said to be a Maori word for “a lion’s rock.” I saw a huge rock on the long beach. It was a fantastic sight indeed.

The Piha rock is a sacred rock for the Maori people. Luckily, Piha was open for climbers. I chose to join them. Sitting alone in a place where a Maori chief is said to have taken his seat, I closed my eyes. I could feel the energy that was surging inside of me. I quietly enjoyed the sense of spiritual energy while random images floated. in my mind.

After a stop in Piha, I drove my rented car across the base of a peninsula to the east coast and visited a beach in an area called the North Shore. In sharp contrast with the wild western sea, the eastern waters were as calm as a lake. After crossing the Harbour Bridge, passing by the Sky Tower and traveling through downtown Auckland, my car slipped into a hotel located on a harbor.

The next day, which was Sunday, I visited the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland Domain again, and climbed a dormant volcano called Mt. Eden. Mt. Eden offered a panoramic view. It was magnificent. Streets were blocked all over Auckland on my way back to the hotel because of the ITU Triathlon World Cup that was taking place on that Sunday. The traffic situation worried me, but I managed to return to my hotel early enough, then headed to the airport from there, and flew to Singapore.

My first business trip to New Zealand proved very fruitful.

November 20, 2011
Written on a flight
Yoshito Hori

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