Strengthening Your Network

August 2011: JMEC 17 Participant and Project Client Featured in Article on the Website of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan (SCCJ)

JMEC – The Winning Formula for Business in Japan

Looking to develop your business acumen while working full-time in Tokyo? Or perhaps receive tailored advice at an affordable cost on how to expand your business in the Japanese market?

The Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC), a professional business plan writing competition, helps to strengthen the business skills of Swedish professionals living and working in Tokyo and maximize business success of Swedish companies in Japan.

Practical Business Education

Jonas Werner from Norberg in northern Västmanland came to Japan for the first time in 2001 and again in 2009. He works as a Senior Specialist at the Telecom Sales division of a Japanese IT company. Despite a busy job and family obligations Werner looked for an opportunity to broaden his business skills and networks and so he joined JMEC in autumn 2010.

“JMEC is a unique way to gain knowledge similar to that of a condensed MBA but with a focus on Japanese business. The practical, hands-on approach and the involvement of local experts in the training are very appealing,” states Werner who did courses in ecology at Mittuniversitetet and computer science at Umeå University.

The JMEC lectures and workshops, which take place on Saturdays, equip participant with a wealth of valuable knowledge about marketing and PR, market research, finance and many other subjects pertaining to business in Japan.

“The high caliber of the presenters and their down-to-earth advice allowed me to take what I had learned during the weekend and put it to good use at work the following Monday. After the first couple of lecture days the early Saturday mornings turned into events that I looked forward to,” Werner says.

“I have had the privilege of giving lectures to the JMEC students during many years. I have been impressed by the quality and diversity of the participants. I am sure that the teamwork spirit developed among the young foreigners and Japanese will have a very positive impact on their future working places” says Tommy Kullberg, Chairman of the European Business Council (EBC).

Satisfied Project Clients

For Werner the real learning, and the challenge, started when this year’s group of 51 JMEC participants was split into ten teams and each team was assigned one of ten real-life project clients, including a large corporation, SMEs, an entrepreneur and an NPO, for whom they wrote tailor-made business plans. The project client of Werner’s team was German company TÜV SÜD Japan Ltd.

“None of us on the team had any past experience in the client’s industry. This really forced us to think out of the box and come up with novel solutions,” states Werner.

Dr. Andreas F. Stange, President and CEO of TÜV SÜD Japan Ltd., is very happy with the business plan he received.

“The engagement of the team members was remarkable. They considered solutions that we would probably have overlooked. This JMEC business plan will definitely help us with our market expansion in Japan,” says Stange.

Everyone is a Winner

The three winning teams of the 17th Japan Market Expansion Competition were announced to an assembled crowd of nearly 200 people at the annual JMEC Awards Ceremony, which took place on June 10th at the Tokyo American Club.

Not only did Werner and the other two members of Team 3 deliver an excellent plan to their project client but they also won the 2nd place in the JMEC competition, and a return ticket to London for each team member courtesy of British Airways.

This year’s first place went to Team 8 who wrote a business plan for Sumitomo 3M Ltd. and who won laptops from Hewlett Packard. The third place was given to Team 4’s plan for Honka Japan Inc. They each won a 2-night stay at any location of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

“Although only three teams can win the competition, everyone who goes through the JMEC program is a winner. The newly acquired skills and contacts will open doors in the business world well after the competition is closed,” says Laura Loy, JMEC’s Program Director.

Benefits to Chamber Members

Actively supported by 16 foreign chambers, including the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan, JMEC has played a vital part in nurturing the Tokyo business community since 1993 when the program was inaugurated by the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

Sonny Söderberg, Senior Project Manager, Swedish Trade Council Tokyo, has been involved in JMEC in various capacities. He was a JMEC participant in 1999, a mentor to JMEC teams in 2008 and 2009 and he is now the SCCJ representative on the JMEC Executive Committee.

“My experiences with JMEC have been very rewarding both personally and professionally, and I strongly encourage all SCCJ members to consider the JMEC program for your own and your company’s benefit.”

For more information about JMEC and on how to become a participant or a project client, please visit www.jmec.gr.jp or email info@jmec.gr.jp

This article was first published on the website of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan (SCCJ)on August 8, 2011.