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 user 2009-03-04 at 12:30:21 pm Views: 96
  • #21794,canon%E2%80%99s-billion-dollar-man.aspx
    Canon’s billion dollar man
    spoken, youngish (yet with two twenty-something year old sons) Canon
    Australia’s recently appointed managing director, Kenji Kobayashi, has
    the air of someone almost too shy to lay claim to 27 years of highly
    successful business achievement throughout the Canon world in Japan,
    Holland, Italy, Japan, and most recently as president and CEO of Canon
    Hong Kong.

    His downunder appointment is a reflection of the
    importance the company places on the Australian and New Zealand
    markets. His seniority in the Canon management cadres and his
    experience in leading management roles in Asian and European markets
    has prepared him well for the new role.

    In 2001 Kobayashi was
    appointed senior director and general manager of the Business Imaging
    Solution (BIS) Group within the Canon Asia Marketing Group. He is on
    record as having led the group to double-digit annual growth in the
    region and achieving profitability in China within two years, despite
    not inconsiderable local challenges. In Hong Kong he continued the
    subsidiary’s record of year-on-year sales growth for nearly four years.

    told ProPrint his immediate aim for the Australasian arm of the company
    is to achieve the billion dollar mark in annual sales. Challenged to
    justify this ambitious objective in the wake of the current financial
    turmoil, he confidently projected this to be achievable within the next
    12 months.

    Service the keyword
    The key to achieving the
    growth which will make him a member of the billion dollar club,
    Kobayashi maintains, is service. He has set his sights on establishing
    and growing Canon Australia and New Zealand’s service function, a
    reflection not only on his management style of seeking new paths to
    profitability but an outcome also of feedback from major customers who
    are finding the service function too cumbersome and time consuming to
    handle in-house. He sees this very service function as a new type of
    business for Canon, one which will overcome the obvious strictures on
    sales growth in a constrained economic environment.

    has been quick to recognise the more open-minded business attitudes in
    Australia compared with the structured philosophical and more emotional
    approach adopted in Asian markets.”The first thing I identified here
    was the comparison with the smog-filled atmosphere of Beijing — here
    in my Sydney office I can look out and see clearly all the trees and
    greenery in the background,” he noted. By that he meant not only to
    describe the clear air of suburban Sydney but the clearer, more
    open-minded business environment he has encountered coming to Australia
    from his posting in China.

    This in itself has encouraged him to
    take his plough into new areas and carve out new furrows in as yet
    uncultivated fields. He recalls that this change of scenario presented
    him with the biggest single challenge when he moved from the
    established Beijing corporate structure to the totally unchannelled
    China hot seat where he was tasked to start from scratch to create a
    business framework, not the least component of which was to set up a
    totally new dealer network and ensure its efficient operation.At the
    same time he was quick to identify the need for a small, extremely
    focused direct sales group to service the top segment of Canon’s
    customer base. This, he said, presented few immediate problems, given
    the high standard of Chinese education and the ready availability of
    graduates to fill the ranks of the new organisation.

    Doing the right thing
    leaning toward clean air and a responsible corporate attitude toward
    the environment is well documented. One of the initiatives for which he
    has announced support in the short time he has been in Australia is the
    Planet Ark cartridge recovery scheme.While he sees ecological
    initiatives as an obligatory adjunct to modern corporate management, he
    is also sufficiently realistic to recognise the benefits from a sales
    point of view of being seen by the company’s customer base as “doing
    the right thing”.

    After an hour’s conversation with the new man
    at the top, it became readily obvious that not only is there a new name
    on the business card above the title managing director, but there is in
    the offing a new analytical approach in what the industry can expect of
    Australasia’s Canon in the twenty-tens.”I cannot simply aim for growth
    for the sake of growth,” Kobayashi-san said. “We need to focus on
    keeping the company on its present track which, for the future, can be
    good timing for adapting to change,” he asserted.

    This is a man
    whose background and approach methodologies are the product of the
    ideal mix of Asian introspection and disciplined thinking and
    open-minded European-style entrepreneurialism. Given today’s
    constrained economic conditions, his unreserved confidence that he can
    keep on track along the lines of Hong Kong’s year-on-year sales growth,
    while tinged with realism tempered by the global financial crisis
    (currency fluctuations alone impact dramatically on a company which
    imports the largest part of its inventory) bodes well for the future of
    Canon in Australia and New Zealand.