Corporate Speaker Delivers Lecture to Leading Program Students (4)
The fourth in a series of lectures by speakers from the corporate world featured Chairman Yoshio Oyama of Nippon Felt Co., Ltd., which graciously assisted with last year's factory tour for second-year students.
Nippon Felt, which will mark the 100th anniversary of its founding this year, is a large company that manufactures and sells felt for papermaking along with a range of industrial fiber products. When they toured the company's facility as part of last year's tour session, many students expressed surprise not only at the gigantic nonwoven fabric manufacturing machinery and extensive quality control regime, but also the clean and organized environment that is maintained in the factory. At that time, Chairman Oyama himself was kind enough to join plant and R&D officials in actively answering questions from the students.
Chairman Oyama is a graduate of the Faculty of Textile Science and Technology here at Shinshu University (he studied in the former Department of Textile Engineering). The title of his talk was "My Experiences in Business, Technology, and Management." He spoke plainly about his personal history, from spending time in Ueda as a university student to joining Nippon Felt and ultimately moving from an engineering position to become the company's top executive, and he performed an experiment in front of the students to demonstrate the various types of paper that are available and the range of expertise embodied by each.
Chairman Oyama described how a series of difficult experiences after joining the company propelled him to start thinking about things from the customer's perspective, and he identified the basis of that approach as a "wholehearted desire for customers to use high-quality felt that would not cause them any problems." He also spoke to the students about the importance of going beyond technical improvement to value encounters and interactions with people. Just as he became president of the company in 2009, Chairman Oyama had to contend with rapidly worsening economic conditions in the aftermath of the Leman Brothers collapse. He explained to the students that corporate executives must set forth clear management policies and give direction to their company's internal activities, noting that both administrative and productivity reforms are necessary in order to deal with a range of challenging situations. For the students, the talk provided an opportunity to learn about the personal traits they need to cultivate, and the subjects they need to study, in order to prepare themselves to serve as managers and executives who combine a proper understanding of their role with the ability to solve problems. They found it most encouraging that a graduate of the Faculty of Textile Science and Technology is serving as the chairman of a large company.
After the lecture, Chairman Oyama participated in a series of conversations with students as a corporate mentor.
The Leading Program would like to thank Chairman Oyama for taking time out of his busy schedule not only to talk about his experiences and what they reveal about how students can become future leaders, but also to join them in individual conversation.