How long has the HEC office in Japan been active and what are its missions?
It has already been 12 years since I took up responsibility for the HEC Paris representative office in Japan. Our top priority is to contribute to the school’s good reputation in Japan and promote all of HEC Paris’ activities: pre-experience programs, MBA and executive education. Indeed unfortunately, HEC is not yet as known here as it is in France. Japanese people often think that HEC Paris’ programs are taught only in French, when in reality they’re designed especially with international students in mind. However, the HEC Japan office has now succeeded in welcoming more than 10 Japanese business executives onto HEC Paris MBA programs each year. The next important mission is to promote cooperation between HEC and the top three Japanese universities: Tokyo University, Keio University and Hitotsubashi University. The HEC Japan office also contributed to enhancing student exchange programs with those universities. Every year HEC Paris welcomes about 15 Japanese students from these three universities and they receive about 20 HEC students in return. These exchanges are so inspiring for students that quite a number of those come back to the country for internships or even to work. Of course, the Japan office is also very active in alumni network activities, in public relations with the companies that offer internships and jobs, and with the French Embassy, the Chamber of Commerce, etc.
How many HEC graduates come to work in Japan? In which sectors and companies?
There are about 280 HEC alumni in Japan and we hope this figure will continue to rise even if the Japanese job market can’t be compared to those of Europe and North America. Mainly because of the geographical distance and the language gap. Our alumni in Japan mostly work in the Tokyo area. 2/3 are graduates from MBA and 1/3 are graduates from the Grande École or 1-year programs. With regard to the sectors, we can see a wide range of opportunities for HEC graduates in finance, banking, consulting, industry, luxury, and the service sector within leading international companies. I strongly believe that exchanges between France and Japan through HEC programs will enrich students’ futures and personal experiences.
Which qualities do Japanese employers like in HEC graduates?
The globalization of Japanese companies is accelerating year after year, yet the supply of human resources is not necessarily keeping up with it. Highly international profiles like those of HEC graduates are definitely in great demand in Japan.
What tips would you give to current students wishing to study or work in Japan?
I would say to European students: come to Japan to learn Japanese headwork (innovation), hard work (dedication) and teamwork. Teamwork in particular is the strength of Japan since teams can achieve much more than each individual alone. To Japanese students, I would say: go to HEC Paris to widen your international scope and to learn creativity and presentation skills. Presentation skills in particular are weak in Japan, where modesty and silence are deemed to be virtues. I really hope more and more young Japanese people have global experiences by studying, exchanging opinions with classmates from various countries, and building their communication skills at HEC Paris. To this end I am always very happy to support them as a representative at the HEC Japan Office. Finally, I must add one more piece of practical advice for French students. Japanese language is strongly required in Japanese companies just as French language is indispensable in some French companies. If you want an internship or to work, it is much better to learn Japanese. In reality, English is not commonly used for work in Japan and the Japanese language is often mandatory depending on the company. Even a beginner in Japanese will have more options for internship or job.
Can you tell us about your background?
France has always attracted me and I learned a lot about the French language and culture. I was already working for the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Tokyo before I had the chance to come and live again in France, due to my husband’s work. Then I worked for Lille Metropole Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and after that for the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIP). It is indeed very rare for a Japanese expatriate’s wife to work in the assigned country but I thoroughly enjoyed these experiences in France. In both the LCCI and the CCIP, I devoted myself to promoting Japanese investment in France and French investment in Japan. When I came back to Japan in 2004, I was offered today's position and needless to say I’m very happy and proud to work for HEC Paris.