Industry overview with Yokohama Tire’s Hamaya
In the U.S., employees get boxed in and feel responsible only for the department they’re working in. I want to encourage the exchange of new information between departments. I believe knowledge comes from experience. The more experience one has, the greater their knowledge becomes and the greater capacity, in turn, for wisdom. It is when you have wisdom that you have the greatest opportunity to break down walls and think outside the box.
Question: Is that how it works in Japan?
Hamaya: It’s not really a U.S. versus Japan or Europe way of working or thinking. In the U.S., the emphasis is on expertise, which makes it incumbent upon the specialists to learn how to educate, otherwise there’s no knowledge transfer and cross-functional collaboration. This stands in the way of wisdom. My philosophy is that people should not be afraid to speak outside their level of expertise because this can actually bring fresh thinking. Empower people to participate and don’t keep doing the status quo. Offer a different opinion and a different way of working with other people. Then the change of mindset happens.
Question: What do you feel is the greatest strength you bring to your new role of COO?
Hamaya: I have had the fortune of working many posts around the world. This enables me to have a broad and, at the same time, deep understanding, of Yokohama’s business globally. I also have the unique opportunity of having worked both in the sales and manufacturing environments.
Over my 21-year career at Yokohama, I have worked in accounting, sales, production and corporate strategic planning, as well as in various countries that include France, Sweden, Germany, Philippines, Japan and now the United States. I feel that I have a strong vantage point to make YTC a much bigger competitive force to contend with in the U.S. than even before.