Company name: Icon Partners Inc.
For years Japan was the world’s second largest economy just behind the United States. That’s impressive, considering the geographic size of the pacific rim island nation and the limited number of citizens compared to much more populous nations in Asia.
For any major multinational business, success in Japan is essential to demonstrating your ability as a company to be competitive globally. Japan consumers are detail oriented, have a high sense of quality, and are generally willing to pay for a good product. Getting those products to the populace is an essential part of business that many people just don’t think about. Bringing parts from around the world, assembly, production, warehousing, and delivery of a product is a part of business that is referred to as supply chain. Good supply chain management is essential to anyone making a physical product, because in this age of internet commerce, managing supply chain cost, speed and efficiency are some of the greatest factors affecting competitiveness and market success. Additionally controlling procurement costs and efficiencies in any business enables them to deliver products or services to the market in a cheaper way, which is good for consumers and shareholders alike. Most people don’t consider the importance or complexity of the supply chains until something breaks and products cannot be delivered due to shipping issues, parts shortages, industrial action, or the many other inter-connected issues.
Icon Partners is a supply chain specialist recruitment company based in Tokyo Japan founded by serial entrepreneur Jeremy Sanderson. Mr. Sanderson is a fluent speaker of both English and Japanese hailing from the United Kingdom. Sanderson understands supply chain as he runs other businesses dependent on the chain, such as a motorcycle parts company, an industrial LED lighting firm and he also represents a serviced office business. Mr. Sanderson shared some thoughts on his supply chain experiences and running Icon Partners.
Tell us a bit about Icon Partners
Icon Partners is an executive search and recruitment firm specializing in supply chain management talent acquisition . Many recruitment companies cover a wide range of disciplines, but in a fairly superficial way. They never develop a deep understanding of the roles that they cover unless they are lucky enough to have some staff who were previously industry insiders. At Icon Partners we specialize, so our recruiters are able to gain a much deeper understanding of the needs of both clients and candidates.
Japan is an island nation with one of the most advanced supply chain infrastructures in the world, so talented logistics and supply chain professionals are always in demand. The logistics and supply chain functions are vital to so many businesses, but in the past they have suffered an image problem, and been overlooked to a large extent. We love working with supply chain people because most of them are great communicators who are down to earth and appreciate our genuine interest in their field of expertise. The fact that we specialize also means that we speak the same language.
How Do You See Your Clients?
That’s a great question. We really admire the job that they do, and refer to them as “rock stars”. We even have a big mural painted on the wall of our office canteen with “Supply Chain Rock Stars” written on it, to remind us of who we’re working to support. We think of them with real respect and want to raise the profile of their profession in the market.
With Your Various Businesses How Do You Best Connect With Your Clients?
Originally, we used various PBX systems installed at our office. When we set up one of our previous offices in Tokyo we worked with another cloud based service, but the experience was not good. There were numerous billing problems and the vendor tried to charge for installation work which was never done. Phones are a vital part of our businesses so we can’t afford to work with a vendor we can’t rely on.
Why Did You Choose iPBX Hosting For Your Cloud Phones?
Despite our negative experience with other cloud services we knew that being on the cloud for phones, as we are with cloud-based email, would allow us easily to expand and reconfigure our office layout as we did so. Rather than get locked into inflexible terms again, we decided to look around. We knew someone at iPBX Hosting and got a quote from them.
How Did the Installation Go? What Guidelines Do You Have For Using The System?
The iPBX installation was quick and easy, they gave us training on site, and helped us customize the system for our business. Our team was used to a different system so we took some time getting accustomed to the new cloud based service, but iPBX worked through it with us until everything was running smoothly.
What Changes Have You Seen In Your Business Recently?
Our core market has always been multi-national companies, but in the past, recruitment in Japanese companies was handled very differently from that in foreign owned companies, especially in the mid-career executive recruitment field. We are seeing a lot more mid-career hiring of senior bilingual professionals in large Japanese companies now, compared with ten years ago. This has driven an increase in demand, as well as in the number of Japanese recruitment companies getting in to the foreign recruitment business in Japan. Many Japanese companies are now becoming more efficient in their hiring practices, which is why we are working with more of them as clients. There continues to be strong demand in the supply chain field, which is in fact very broad, from shipping and transportation to indirect procurement and demand planning. I see us staying in the logistics and supply chain field, but diving deeper in to more specialized roles as we continue to grow.