BUSINESS PROFILE: Pierre Couret of JMEC

Business - November 4th, 2011
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What is your background, in particular related to Japan?

After graduating with an MBA in Paris with a major in Sales and Marketing, I started working for a small but very international French software editing company based in Paris who made me a sales account manager for Eastern European countries, then M.D. for their Asia Pacific subsidiary based in Singapore.

My strong interest in Japan started at that time, when I was traveling to Tokyo on business trips two or three times a year. Becoming illiterate again when you are over 30 was quite fascinating, so I decided to investigate more about the country.

After I graduated from the Executive Training Program, an 18 month language and business program funded by the European Commission for selected European Managers in 2005, I was hired by the company where I had done my last internship as part of the curriculum, then I moved back to France to set-up my own company early 2008.

Being married to a Japanese and having a young child, we did return to Tokyo last Christmas in order to provide a better family environment.

For readers who don’t know, what is JMEC ?

JMEC is really unique in the landscape of training courses and support services to foreign companies, because it does not fit into one exclusive category but rather encompasses both of them.

As we are currently finalizing the recruitment of our project clients, companies having products or services that may not get major marketing or management attention within their organization but are willing to assess where these products are in the market, what are their customers impressions and expectations, or what approaches might expand the market for such products or services, should definitely send their inquiries to: info@jmec.gr.jp

How did you discover the program?

I discovered JMEC thanks to the Executive Training Program through their quarterly newsletter.

Why is it special?

The JMEC lectures are given over a six weeks period but they only take place on Saturdays, and the program allows our participants who are not young graduates but executives with several years of experience to work in English with very international people from diverse backgrounds on a real case, for a real company.

JMEC is supported today by 16 Chambers of Commerce in Japan who help us through their representatives in giving directions to improve the program, help us find Project Clients, introduce JMEC staff to potential lecturers, mentors, etc.

It is also important to note that we are not a private consultancy company but an NPO, which means the fees for both project clients as well as participants are extremely reasonable.

What typical Japan-specific challenges the organization face?

Being quite new to the organization, I might not have enough experience to provide a fair judgment on that. I would nevertheless point out the globalization and more regionally, China.

Even though the Japanese GDP per capita is still far ahead when compared to China, there is definitely a trend of foreign companies reviewing their Asian focus and, although it used to be a market in its own,

either encompassing Japan into a more regional market, or else purely shifting to China. This results in less investment and less opportunities for JMEC to help foreign companies expanding here.

I am nevertheless confident that despite this trend, there shall always be niche markets for which our services will bring a tremendous added value.

Globalization has also some interesting twists: JMEC was originally created by the Australian and New-Zealand Chamber of Commerce in 1993 and aimed mostly at foreign participants and foreign companies but this year we will have more Japanese participants than foreigners!

What advices could you give to companies wishing to enter the Japanese market?

Find the right people. Regardless of the type of industry you are in, it will be different from what you expect, and it would undoubtedly be different from how things are done in your country.

You may be a large multinational corporation or a small start-up venture with wonderful ideas backed up by significant capital, getting your product or service out in the market here will take some time.

If you find the right partner who you trust and is willing to help and speed up the entire lifecycle of your product or service, you will gain a tremendous amount in terms of time and energy.

The same applies to people who would join your organization either as part of your staff or be it external resources. Needless to say, JMEC can help you find these partners!

What are your personal challenges with respect to JMEC?

Bridging the 1000 alumni and 200 business plans threshold and bringing the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) Chambers of Commerce on board as we reach JMEC 20 (this year’s program is the 18th).

Official site: www.jmec.gr.jp