Yamaha Motor keen to tap non-Japanese talent

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on January 11, 2018

Hiroyuki Yanagi, President and CEO, Yamaha Motor

Increasing Indian R&D hire a priority, says CEO Yanagi

As Yamaha Motor looks at increasing its global presence in core businesses such as motorcycles, it is also keen on changing its employee profile to fit in with the changing times.

Annual report

The company’s 2016 annual report released last week states: “We are working to build an organisation that utilises global experience and knowledge. We will personnel regardless of their nationality or place of birth, and aim to have local managers fill 60 per cent of management positions at overseas subsidiaries by 2018.”

“Furthermore, we are striving to further diversify our workforce by hiring non-Japanese managers at headquarters, promoting employment of non-Japanese personnel,” it adds.

Countries such as India are important for Yamaha in terms of its overall two-wheeler potential where it is already in the third place after Indonesia and Vietnam. By 2020, it is widely believed that India will be right on top in the Yamaha global map, and it is here that local talent will be tapped to take on more responsibilities.

Yamaha’s President and CEO Hiroyuki Yanagi had told BusinessLine during one of his India visits that he was keen on seeing more local R&D hiring happen. After all, he reasoned, if Taiwan headed the company’s global R&D headcount with nearly 250 personnel, there was no reason why India had to lag behind. “Indian R&D should be bigger than them,” Yanagi had said.

Steering African story

Beyond boosting local talent, Yamaha is also keen on farming out more global responsibilities to its Indian arm. While sourcing components for its overseas two-wheeler operations is only one side of the story, the bigger task on hand is to steer the Africa motorcycle story. The plan is to have motorcycles shipped out from India which could eventually see managerial talent from here spearheading the African operations.

Female managers

According to the annual report, Yamaha also intends to double the number of its female managers by 2020 (from the 2014 level) and triple this by 2025. Interestingly, fellow Japanese automaker Nissan recently announced that the component of its female managers had touched 10 per cent. This growing trend is welcome in countries such as Japan where workplaces have largely been dominated by men.

This is equally true for India where more women professionals are coming into their own across cities and small towns. Mobility has played a big role in transforming their lives and it is here that Honda has led the way with its Activa, while Yamaha, likewise, has joined the scooter parade. Reaching out to women commuters goes a long way in building a strong bond with a brand.

Yamaha has reiterated that as its business becomes increasingly global in scale, it is important to step up efforts in areas such as human resources development. “Moreover, to maintain continuous growth, we believe it is important that our workforce incorporates diverse viewpoints and values, reflecting different experiences, skills and attributes,” states the report.

HR development division

It is in this context that Yamaha set up a global HR development division at its Japanese headquarters in late 2015. The idea was to develop and implement common management development programmes with global HR systems to train and hire talented staff.

Published on May 15, 2017

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