- What views have you formed on the Sompo Holdings Group in the three years since assuming your role as a director?
I feel that the Group has two admirable qualities. First, despite being a large organization, it decides matters promptly. Second, although things are going well at the moment, the Group has not become complacent. Instead, it is still seeking further improvements. In a sense, I have been surprised. Meanwhile, through my position as an outside director, I want to assist the Group in heightening the pace of efforts to ensure that it accomplishes change.
- How have you found the meetings of the Board of Directors and the Nomination and Compensation Committee in which you have participated?
Frankly speaking, there are very few organizations in which outside directors can state opinions so freely or in which, ultimately, the chairpersons of these meetings are able to hammer out policies so effectively. A pet theory of mine is that the strongest organizations are those that are able to proceed in a single direction while accommodating diverse values. For example, I feel that, even if they establish panels including external experts, many organizations may conduct meetings of such panels for form’s sake to some extent.
However, the Group does not do this. Further, trying to assimilate many different opinions often results in disintegration. Nonetheless, in the end the Group is able to identify coherent directions and reach conclusions. Therefore, I think it is close to my idea of the strongest type of organization.
- Recently, the Group has ventured into the nursing care field and other new fields. As an outside director, how have you been involved in and what are your thoughts about such initiatives?
The Board of Directors arrived at a decision after exhaustively weighing up the pros and cons of a full-fledged entry into the nursing care field. On the one hand, the management team wanted to meet social responsibilities and create new value by exploiting financial foundations and strict ethical standards that the Group had developed mainly in the insurance business. On the other hand, such an initiative would involve a new type of risk. Last year, in what was effectively the initiative’s first fiscal year, I feel that the Group came up against certain difficulties. During a very short period, however, it was able to make concerted efforts to analyze problems rigorously and establish preventive measures. Moreover, I was impressed by the fact that, despite facing challenges, the Group steadily took forward-looking strategic measures, such as the formation of industry-academia tie-ups, to create new value and services in the nursing care business. This resilience reflects a mind-set cultivated over many years in the insurance business.
Rather than simply complaining that things are tough, the management team does whatever it can to create new value. I think the significance of the Group’s entry into the nursing care field is that it has brought this mind-set to the fore.
- What are the Group’s tasks, and what are your expectations of the Group?
Not long ago, I had an opportunity to visit one of the Group’s nursing care facilities. The professionalism of the personnel and the happiness of the residents had a big impact on me. I was really surprised to learn that the Group is incorporating the latest digital technology into nursing care, a quintessentially analog field in which people take care of other people. I think that, as a newcomer to the nursing care industry, the Group should keep offering new value based on fresh approaches. Although “offering new value” sounds a little presumptuous, doing so will demonstrate the Group’s level of commitment to making a full-fledged entry into the nursing care field. I look forward to the Group helping address the problems that Japan is facing, such as people having to quit work to care for family members.