of eQualC Sustainability Communications (www.equalc.com)

With a degree in environmental management and a background in corporate communications, it seems natural that Luke Poliszcuk would start a corporate communications firm specializing in sustainability and social responsibility, but the Australian says that if it weren’t for the sense of freedom he feels in Japan he never would have founded his company. Now, Poliszcuk and his team address a niche market, working with Japanese companies to increase their levels of social and environmental responsibility while reducing their carbon footprints.

What is your background and why did you decide to start your business?
I arrived in Japan in November 2003 expecting to spend a year here before setting off on my grand tour of the world. Eight years later I’m still here, although I have been to some pretty interesting countries and seen some amazing things in that time. People often ask me (as I often ask myself), “Why do you keep coming back to Japan?” The best answer I can give is that as a gaijin, you are free not only of many of the constraints of Japanese society, but also of those of your own culture.

What is your background and why did you decide to start your business?
My background is fairly mixed. I have a bachelor’s degree in environmental management from the University of Sydney, but most of my professional career has been spent in various roles in management, corporate communications, and customer relationship management. Prior to starting eQualC, I worked for Japan’s largest privately-owned investor relations consulting firm.

Can you tell us a bit about your company?
eQualC LLC, trading as eQualC Sustainability Communications, is a Tokyo-based company specializing in corporate communications in the fields of sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR), socially responsible investment (SRI), environmental, social and corporate governance, and investor relations. The company was founded by multilingual global corporate communications and sustainability specialists who have extensive experience working with Fortune 500/Nikkei 100 multinational corporations. Our services include public relations and marketing, copywriting, translation, editing, proofreading, event management and promotion, consulting, and training. In addition, we have partnered with the British Council in Iidabashi, where we run the Green Leaders Forum, a free monthly sustainability networking and learning event with over 100 participants.

What are the Japan-specific challenges your business faces?
One of the issues we face as a small, primarily B2B startup is that many companies tend only to work with large, established organizations. Also, at least when it comes to services, price and quality seem to be less important in Japan than who you know, and business relationships are more like partnerships than trade-offs. This means that many meetings seem more like job interviews than the strictly business style you tend to encounter overseas, and getting in the door and establishing relationships can take a lot of time. Conversely, once you have established good business relationships with Japanese companies—or more specifically with contacts at those companies—they tend to be loyal partners.

What sets your company apart from its competitors?
We are perhaps the only corporate communications firm in Japan, if not the world, with multilingual capabilities (Japanese, English, Chinese, etc.) that focuses specifically on corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and socially and environmentally responsible business. This unique combination of skills and proficiencies, combined with our small scale, gives us the ability to tailor high quality, effective, globally oriented sustainability communications solutions for each of our clients at a price that is well below our non- specialized competitors’ rates. And we are all incredibly passionate about sustainability, so we always go the extra mile to ensure the best results.

What kind of advice would you give to aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs?
First of all, follow your passion. I truly believe that happiness is the key to success, not just figuratively but very literally. You will always work hardest when you are most happy and you will be most happy doing what you love. Second, ensure that you stand out from the crowd and invest in your future, whether that be through studies and certification, or simply by dedicating time and effort to your passion. Finally, no matter where you are, but especially in Japan, your connections are your most precious asset. Foster good relationships with good people, especially those in the fields that you are interested in. A good way to do this is by joining relevant organizations and attending networking and learning events.

What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time? Between my ‘green MBA’ in sustainable management, organizing the Green Leaders Forum, taking over the reins as co-president of Net Impact Tokyo, volunteering as a member of both the environment and CSR committees at the American Chamber of Commerce Japan, contributing to books such as the World Guide to CSR: Japan from CSR International, and writing for various blogs and magazines, including Tokyo Weekender’s sustainable business column, www.greenz.jp, Ecotwaza magazine, and www.treehugger.com, I  barely have time to eat most days. But, as I said earlier, following my passion means that no matter how busy I am, I always enjoy what I’m doing. And that is the most important thing of all.

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