An optimist believes in moving towards hope, away from danger. A leader creates favourable change through action. An inspirational leader shows others the way towards a better future.
‘Kotoba Miki’, as the founder and leader of a leading Japanese management consultancy firm ‘CROSS Business Producers’, is an inspirational figure in the context of the Asia Pacific region today. Her company participates in creating long-lasting and large-scale changes to help the business world as well as society in general. In addition to providing management consultancy service, the company contributes to larger causes within business, academia as well as society through a variety of means.
CROSS Business Producers was established in 2011, in Tokyo, Japan. Thanks to consistently good performance over the years, they have become one of the nation’s leading management consultancy firms today. Their success story in fact is rooted in some of the painful lessons from Ms. Kotoba’s professional as well as personal life.
A Sincere Desire to Help Society
Before founding the company, Ms. Kotoba had worked for three different companies for about fifteen years. But she also encountered a series of extremely alarming incidents that changed her profoundly. These incidents showed her some of the suffering, grief, loss and death present in society unfortunately. This affected her deeply; she began introspecting ways to help people in need and help society in general. Her yearning eventually guided her towards the path of entrepreneurship.
“After about ten years of participating in international business development for many countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America, I wanted change. I realized that in times of crises and unpredictability, companies need to be flexible and adapt to new situations. Everyday rituals like bringing employees to work, working approach and providing services may become difficult. As I always wanted to help change society and business ecosystems, I decided to become an entrepreneur. I wanted to contribute to society through business, even in difficult times,” Ms. Kotoba says.
CROSS Business Producers: A Means to Help Society Improve
Ms. Kotoba established CROSS Business Producers believing in “business as a means to help society”. “Through our business, we are going to solve many issues of our diverse society. Business development is to professionally make things possible for everyone in society, not only for us,” Ms. Kotoba says.
Ms. Kotoba observes that within the Japanese professional working culture, ‘calmness’ and ‘craftsmanship’ are strengths. But she shares that they are also slow to adapt to new changes and aren’t open-minded as well. So, she wants to inspire change in the context of Japanese society and business through her company, in a variety of ways.
Some of the company’s services within management consulting are future forecasting, business development, project roll out coordination and financial key performance indicator (KPI) management. In addition to helping individuals develop a growth mindset, they help whole companies learn to shift to large and disruptive changes. They help clients develop a newer value model, with a holistic and comprehensive approach. From vision to service provision, they help their clients create a newer model capable of surviving uncertainties and crises.
“Our company’s purpose is ‘defining change points and delivering value to society by business’. To achieve this, we are working on multiple projects with clients, partners and entrepreneurs widely. They are determined to be the leading examples in new markets like food, space, automated vehicles and 5G networks,” Ms. Kotoba shares.
Nurturing International Collaboration and Humanitarian Initiatives
Ms. Kotoba believes that the Japanese management consultancy industry is still in its infancy. There are not many consultancy firms providing business development services purely. But CROSS Business Producers are inspiring professionals within the Japanese business world towards open mindedness and a growth mindset. Alongside, they are facilitating collaboration within an international business context as well.
“From my home country of Japan, I visualize business development as a way to connect us to other countries and produce businesses that can adapt to a rapidly changing era. I have been working closely on global issues with my colleagues regardless of race, personality, gender, nationality, value and background. This also means keeping a close eye on what is required for the next generation. The most important purpose of our business is to quickly grasp changes and come up with a valuable way to help others,” Ms. Kotoba says.
“We are aware of the growing importance of passing expertise and skills to the next generation. Thus, our company is offering internships to students from around the world to help cultivate the next generation,” Ms. Kotoba shares.
In addition, the company participates in humanitarian initiatives organized by the United Nations. These are the ‘Thought for Food’ program and the ‘Food Systems Summit’, both dedicated to help improve the world’s food systems through widespread collaboration.
Towards the Vision of a Circular Economy and Sustainability
By leading CROSS Business Producers towards a noble purpose, Ms. Kotoba has been guiding clients towards success as well as helping create a better society. The company has become one of the nation’s leading management consultancies today. Amongst many clients, many world famous Japanese brands like Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), Fujitsu, Mitsubishi Real Estate and Mitsui Group have become their clients.
As a guiding principle, Ms. Kotoba believes in the ideal of the ‘circular economy’ and sustainability, especially wanting to inspire Japanese professionals to respect natural surroundings more. And also, she has published a book exploring the topic of ‘business development’ too. Inspired by the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, she wants to nurture happiness, health and well-being in our society today.
With respect to the professional world today, Ms. Kotoba sees that professionals and entrepreneurs encounter unnaturally high amounts of stress in their jobs. “Business should make people happy but large companies with silo-based bureaucratic structures, do not encourage this often. Managers also must respect and take care of themselves. They must take every effort to keep themselves happy and healthy. We must also appreciate our parents and friends. Forming healthy relationships is the foundation for our lives,” she explains.
“In 2021, my company will be celebrating its 10th anniversary while the world is suffering from a pandemic. Just like the time of the Asian financial crisis in 1997, I am sure this wave of uncertainty won’t leave us for the next 10 to 20 years. Some issues have yet to surface but will affect deeply. To create a better world, I believe that business development should be strong in times of change. I feel that our strategy and formula will be required even more in the near future,” Ms. Kotoba concludes.