Country Manager Japan:
This story is linked to Mr. Mitarai, who was president of my first gaishikei.
If Mr. Mitarai was the president, the actual Country Manager was based in the headquarter in France and was called Mr. Mainette.
I would like to explain the different roles and titles in a gaishikei (and basically in any Japanese organization) Most of the gaishikei are incorporated as KK or Kabushiki Kaisha (株式会社) or Co., Ltd, joint-stock company.
To incorporate such entity, you need basically one representative director who will be responsible legally for the entity. Generally the president can act as president and managing director and be the person responsible legally (representative director).
The representative director owns the official seal of the company which acts as a legal signature for all documents which are legally binding such as contracts.
There are many patterns like sometime having 2 representative director to have a 4 eye policy but I will maybe not detail all here.
In our case, the actual country manager and boss of Mr. Mitarai was based in France even if Mr. Mitarai was the representative director for the entity (and acting as president and managing director).
He was visiting the subsidiary every few months to review the situation (I believe) and take at this time the occasion to have dinner with all the employees. (maybe occasionally preside over some interviews or hiring)
The shocking Risotto event:
Mr. Mainette used to be (from my point of view) very rude toward the Japanese, and maybe toward all Asians in general. He was part of this generation which did not make difference between Indians, Chinese, Japanese and all the others, believing that because he was coming from the HEADQUARTER he was allowed to do anything,
I was surprised and even shocked on one special evening. We went nearby to have dinner in a Japanese restaurant. While we were enjoying Japanese food, Mr. Mainette requested to have a Risotto…
Our president, Mr. Mitarai explained that none was available, but Mr. Mainette insisted, explaining that he saw this in the menu down the building.
To better explain, in Japan, you often have in the same building several restaurants. In small buildings, you can find a restaurant per floor. In general each restaurant put a display with the menu at the ground floor of the building so peoples can chose where to go.
He might have seen the menu of another restaurant, probably Italian and not related to our Japanese place.
Seeing that this was going nowhere, Mr. Mainette bluntly stated that if it was in the same building it must be the same owner and asked to have his risotto brought. Mr. Mitarai could negotiate discreetly with the owner of our place and finally Mr. Mainette got his well deserved risotto. I was ashamed by such lack of respect from one of my compatriot.
What have we learned from this…
Even if you come from the HEADQUARTER, respect and empower your peoples in the subsidiary, they are the one who run the business, and please learn about the culture of the country or at least follow or even better ask for advises from the peoples in the subsidiary.