Placement Archive

A European renewable energy startup was looking for their first Japan country manager

The Client

A Swedish geothermal project development company was looking for a country manager in Japan. The client had previously been operating in Japan through a sister company. Now, after having received significant investment funds they were ready to build out their own local entity and make their first executive hire.

The Challenge

The ideal candidate would have a renewable energy background with strong experience in project development coming either from the equipment or the banking side. Since the country manager would need to negotiate with local governments but at the same time report to the headquarters in Europe, native Japanese and fluent English were each critical.

The successful candidate would also need to have experience with team building and management since he would be the main driver to establish and grow the Japanese entity – in short, the client was looking for a renewable energy star.

Our biggest challenge would be finding a qualified candidate willing to work as a contractor for at least the first year of operations. Employees in Japan prize stability; since contractor status is seen as inherently unstable, this would shrink our pool of potential candidates much further.

Our Solution

To start we communicated in great detail regulations surrounding the legal status and responsibilities of a representative director in Japan, especially one hired as a contractor not a permanent employee. We also educated the client as to what would be required to pull in a viable candidate on a contractor basis.

A project team of 1 lead consultant and 2 senior researchers developed a comprehensive map of the renewable energy market to show the client what could be expected in terms of available talent and benchmarking salary data for the market.

Over 2 months of focused research we built a longlist of 270 potential candidates. Of those we shortlisted 6 each of whom went to interviews. Eventually, the client selected a candidate who not only worked in the renewable energy sector for many years, but had experience in both banking AND equipment. An excellent communicator, he had a great deal of negotiation experience as well as successful team building and management.

Based on our market research and knowledge the client was able to put together a compensation package that addressed the job security concerns of the candidate. This included guaranteeing the length of the contract and ensuring the compensation was attractive enough to offset the various benefits of his existing full-time employment position.

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