Mission, Culture & Strategy

The challenge of working for a truly global companyAyano Senaha

Be the global leader in HR business by 2020

Despite being in business for over 55 years, the Recruit Group only began pushing forward with international mergers and acquisitions in 2010. Our mid to long-term vision is to reach the top of human resources business by 2020, and then number one worldwide in both HR and marketing media by 2030.

The style in which we conduct mergers and acquisitions has also evolved in the past seven years since we have expanded internationally as a group. Our style involves monitoring feasibility after making a small sum investment to verify whether the management and business know-how we have cultivated in Japan will prove applicable in overseas ventures. The results are then used in a "two stage approach" for implementing large-scale investments. One part of this process in particular for staffing business is the introduction of unit management structure (*dividing organizations into smaller units, each with KPI for achieving their own sales and profit goals, as well as high level of independence for decision-making) that we have cultivated as a group. It in turn allows us to expand many enterprises in staffing business. Aligned with this, companies such as The CSI Companies, Staffmark, Advantage Resourcing, Peoplebank, Chandler Macleod, and Atterro joined Recruit Group.
As part of our efforts to advance even further globally, we have now expanded to include businesses such as Indeed in online HR media, along with Quandoo and Treatwell in marketing media.

In the 10 years since she joined Recruit, Ayano Senaha (widely known as "Sena"), head of Global Talent Management Office in Recruit Holdings, has gained experience in corporate planning, sales, and overseas business management. Having experienced a wide diversity from U.K. teams to Silicon Valley start-ups, Sena still stands firm on the frontline as a key person to step on the accelerator for the group.

New doors open via belief and trust

Sena started her career at the Recruit Group in 2006 as a member of the corporate planning office. Desiring a business environment that was more rigorous and hands-on, she then transferred to human resources business in 2008 to gain sales experience. In just one year she rose to the top in overall performance, earning herself a position as a true MVP within the Recruit Group.

"After my first 18 months or so in the company, I began to desire a dynamic environment that allows me to grasp the characteristics of our clients and customers in real sense. Instead of staying in corporate planning, I requested to move to a sales position as the most intense frontline. My wish was granted at the beginning of my third year here. I transferred to sales, where I learned many things and had excellent performance. But, when I was awarded at the end of my first year in sales, I was shocked. 'If my life were to end now, I wouldn't consider myself as having accomplished anything memorable.' Though I was being commended for having top performance, my mind was filled with frustration. That was when I decided that I would only involve myself in projects that I truly believe were worthwhile, and thus when my career became all the more interesting. Since then, I started to be devoted to projects that bring great influence to the society rather than those simply contributing to good financial results. And I am glad of my decision because in the next few years, I gained many precious experiences and won many awards both inside and outside the group."

Sena sailed to London in 2012 to undertake the challenge of working overseas. Despite being the only Japanese on site, she ended up reigning the top position of two companies, Advantage Resourcing UK and Advantage XPO UK, leading a staff of nearly 250 people. She even became the youngest group executive in the Recruit Group.

"One thing that stands out about the Recruit Group in my opinion is our culture of believing in people and entrusting things to them. There is a generosity here in the way that, even if there is no proof a staff member can actually do a project or not, he/she is still given the chance to try if he/she displays an honest desire or drive to make the project succeed."

Sena was the only Japanese member moved to London. Her experiences there still prove useful today.

A place where we expect high on each other's potentials

As Sena states, believing and trusting in our staff is part of a unique culture at the Recruit Group. This culture involves placing high expectations on each other's potentials. Sena has experienced this culture herself and thus has made it a valuable resource for her career.

"To put it briefly, this idea of believing and trusting comes in various forms. One of these forms is not giving up on communications. When I was first assigned to our global staffing business with almost no experience, I was granted the opportunity to spend a month working alongside and learning from Mr. Motohara (now one of our managing executive officers and the head of global staffing business). In the Recruit Group's mergers and acquisitions strategy of global staffing, a management method known as 'unit management' plays a vital role. While I of course understood the structure itself, I didn't have a grasp of how someone with a proven track record and experience like Mr. Motohara interpreted unit management, or why he continued to strive so persistently. So, I decided to be direct and ask what unit management meant to him. After thinking quietly for a moment, he replied 'It means not getting in the way'. While I understood the words he spoke, at the time I had absolutely no idea of the meaning behind them.

What I'm trying to say is that, at that time, he knew clearly that it was too hard for me to fully understand. With that in mind, he still took his time and effort to explain the abstract idea carefully to a fresh member like me. To put it simply, Mr. Motohara made the response he did because he believed that I would eventually acquire that knowledge. This is an example of the great expectations we put in our staff at the Recruit Group, and how we never give up on communications. This attitude is an extremely welcome thing for people looking to undertake challenges."

A dream of becoming a cool grandmother

Sena has been with the Recruit Group for 10 years now. Though she is an executive today, becoming an executive was not something she ever yearned for. Before joining the company, she never thought she would have stayed this long.

"My goal growing up was to become a homemaker, to the point that during my interview while applying to the join the Recruit Group I actually said that I planned to quit after working for three years or so (laughs). My dream was to become the type of old lady who sits watching her grandchildren play with a glass of wine in one hand. At the same time, however, I also wanted to repay my parents for everything they had done for me. So, having heard that the Recruit Group is the type of place that allows young people to accomplish things shortly after on board, I decided to find employment there.

This is just my opinion, but I think that seeing, hearing, and experiencing new things is part of the process of adding on new filters. The things that get caught in these filters are the real meaning behind what I'm truly thinking or feeling. The Recruit Group allows people to experience many things from the time they are young, and thus gives them many opportunities to add filters at an incredible speed. This is also a place where people put great expectations on each other, making every experience all the more abundant, and as a result the mesh of our filters becomes finer in a short period of time. People here gain more filters, with each filter becoming finer, so we end up thinking and feeling much more. I see this as growth. After practicing for 10 years, this process can evolve a young girl who once dreamed of becoming a homemaker to someone fully embracing her career. Eventually this young girl transformed into a corporate executive (laughs).

I am often asked that if I could only choose one between my career and family, which would be my answer? My answer is always that I would try every effort to keep two indispensable parts of me. Though I am not a homemaker now, I still dream of becoming a cool grandmother someday. My wish has never changed since, that all the important people around me live long and have a great adventure in life together."

A company climate where diversity naturally takes root

Since joining the company, Sena has felt the Recruit Group's culture of belief and trust. She then took it as a force to fuel her own growth. Now she has become part of the culture herself, and she continues to foster positive synergy within the group.

"Stated without fear of being misunderstood, the Recruit Group does not have any special manufacturing properties nor patents we can boast to the world of. Nor do we have any licenses that can grant us to sit back on our laurels. None of us, including myself, are conspicuous geniuses. Since we cannot rely on patents nor geniuses, each of us has to confront the market and create new things. I think that the only way to create any real impact in society is to collaborate with people of different abilities or ideas.

The Recruit Group includes people who speak of grand adventures, and it also includes people who put profit as the top priority. We are a collective of people of different personalities, strengths and weaknesses, who respect each other and work together with the same aspirations. In that sense, I think that we have the type of system where diversity naturally takes root. We have prepared a stage where anyone can earn applause, so all it takes is the courage to go out there and try."

We are not yet a global company in a real sense

Before transferring to Head of Global Talent Management Office in Recruit Holdings, Sena led the team of R&D International Business Development Office, where they analyzed startups in Silicon Valley and other locales worldwide in order to pioneer new fields for the Recruit Group to explore in the future. Just what are her thoughts now that she has returned to Japan after gaining management experience abroad?

"My experiences in the U.K. still prove useful to me. The first thing I learned is that no one has a better understanding of the local situation than the local staff that live alongside the local culture and customers.

Though this was a merger and acquisition, I think the important thing was not to bring over many staff from Japan but to rather create an environment where it is easy for the local staff to work. I was the only Japanese on-site during the entirety of the three years I worked in the U.K., which gave rise to little or no problems. Before leaving London, instead of bringing another Japanese from Tokyo headquarter, as most people would do, I even persuaded the company to appoint a local staff who had worked under me there to succeed my position. Understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses contributes to business growth. I believe that a team with diverse skills and ways of thinking performs the best management. Of course things didn't always go smoothly, and we often had conflicting ideas. But, looking back on it now the things I learned during my experiences honing my skills alongside people of different characters have proven to be valuable assets.

As I learned from experience, I gradually came to understand Mr. Motohara's statement of 'It means not getting in the way' that I couldn't understand at the time, and built my own interpretation that I was eventually able to put into practice."

So much left to do, to soar further in the world

Though she once dreamed of becoming a homemaker, Sena is now an indispensable member of the team at Recruit Holdings. Hoping to discover even further new potential, she has now embraced her role in helping us become a truly global company.

"I believe that the Recruit Group has yet to become a global company in the truest sense of the word. It has not been 10 years yet since we began overseas M&A in the HR business, and our management board is still composed entirely of Japanese, for instance. There are still many things that we need to put in order. For example, a talent management structure that allows staff that have joined us via M&A to take greater responsibilities and contribute to the Recruit Group.

While strategy is of course a core topic when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, we also need to consider what kind of company we need to be in order to make personnel we acquire in this manner want to stay on board with us. We must understand this and think more than ever about how to make ourselves more appealing as a group of people and as a workplace. In order for the Recruit Group to soar even further in the world, we need to transform ourselves. In every sense of the word, there is a lot to be done. On the other hand, I would like to mark that we have actually worked with an incredible speed. In just less than 10 years, up to 26% of our total sales come from global markets outside Japan. This will be my tenth year at the Recruit Group, and I plan on doing everything I can to make sure that the most exciting years are still yet to come. As I have always felt the same enthusiasm and vitality during the past decade here, I believe the Recruit Group is a company that will keep evolving into an even greater place."

Ayano Senaha

Head of Global Talent Management Office, Recruit Holdings

Ayano Senaha (Sena) joined the Recruit Group as a new graduate in 2006. She spent her first two years as a member of the corporate planning office, before requesting a transfer to the frontline, where she was placed in charge of sales human resources business. She met sales goals for four consecutive quarters all four years she remained in this position, winning various awards before traveling to England to take charge of two enterprises and leading a local staff of around 250 people. Sena returned to Japan in 2015 and assumed the position of head of Global Talent Management Office since April 2016.

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