Fujitsu is a global multinational information technology company, based out of Tokyo, Japan. With over 156,000 employees in over 100 countries, Fujitsu is the 5th largest IT services provider in the world.
Each year, Fujitsu EMEIA takes a group of professionals at the beginning of their career into their Graduate programme, and trains them to be the next generation of leaders in the organization. This Junior Talent development programme includes a series of modules surrounding themes of leadership and how the organization functions. For the past 3 years, Fujitsu EMEIA has been using Celemi Enterprise™ as a capstone to their Junior Talent development programme.
In this interview with Nick White, Head of Junior Talent at Fujitsu, we discuss the leadership challenges of today, and how they can be met with business simulations.
Hi Nick. Can you tell me a bit about how you are using Enterprise for leadership development?
We develop our Junior Talent to become the next generation of leaders in our organization, and I see business simulations as a way of understanding, in only two days, how our industry works; how we compete, how we win customers and how we allocate resources, and make profits. The simulation perfectly condenses a complex situation. Ultimately, it gives them (the participants) a strong understanding of what it takes to run a successful business.
Alright. And why is it that you choose to use simulations for this module?
We used to give them a bit of a lecture about how finance and sales work from our finance and sales directors and it was consistently the lowest rated module in our development program, so I knew I had to do something different.
The simulation gives the participants everything I wanted to give them in terms of how a business works, but it’s interactive and fun. The high impact it delivers has smashed anything that I wanted it to do. It’s a high-impact module now, that actually resonates with the Junior Talent. Like wow… I learned a lot from that session. I had fun whilst I was doing it, and I got some real insights into how our business works.
And how would you describe the energy in the room during the simulations?
It’s really buzzing. We had a big venue and a big space that you can put 100 Graduates through. It was a packed 2-day module. Quite early starts and late finishes. We had about 18 teams in the simulations. To hear the whoops and hollows when people win customers, and the groans when they didn’t… through to tracking performance and cheers when they made a profit was really fun. So a great, buzzing energy throughout the 2 days.
Sounds like lots of fun! And can you tell me a bit about the skills you’re looking for in today’s workplace?
There’s something about being comfortable with ambiguity. Gone are the days when you have a clear, 3-year strategy and you just execute against it. The world is changing so quickly, so fast, that it’s a bit uncertain what we need to do next year. You need to be comfortable with the ambiguity and making the next steps, not knowing exactly what is going to happen.
Coupled with that is emotional resilience. When you have a clear target and a clear goal for the next year… decision making becomes a bit easier against that, but in a VUCA world it’s not so clear and it’s always changing, so we’re not always comfortable that we are making the right decisions. So, you need a certain level of emotional resilience to navigate these times.
Alright! And is there any way you can work to develop these skills?
I call these complex human skills. It’s not like learning code or a framework, as these skills are quite complex to teach. Difficult to replicate, but it’s becoming increasingly more important in this VUCA world where standardized roles are being hoovered up by Artificial Intelligence and Automation. But how do we develop these skills? We give a high level of pastoral support, and focus our program on understanding the business, understanding themselves, and on leadership and building their leadership potential.
Dialogue and feedback are also a part of this growth and development. Our program is set up to engender and deliver these qualities, but it’s not easy. There’s no one silver bullet that says do this course and suddenly you’re emotionally resilient.
And do you see any of these skills coming out of an Enterprise simulation?
What I see is that some of the teamwork skills come out. They’re put into random teams, and they very quickly have to build a team to execute against the strategy to become the winning team, build long-term profits, and so on. They very quickly have to get on the same page and work towards the same goal.
The teams that do that really well are the teams that can communicate really effectively together, they understand some of their roles quickly, and trust each other to make the right kinds of decisions. And I suppose that when disagreements happen, the teams that do that well are the teams that can understand each other’s point of view.
So, the aim of the module isn’t necessarily to build those skills; the objective is more understanding how a complex business works. But a great side objective, because it’s a simulation, some of the softer skill development does come out.
And is there anything else that you’d like to add?
The only thing is that… in the tech industry, we are changing exponentially. The change of pace of technology is so huge, and where tech companies do well is when they make sound decisions about what to invest in and what to pull out of as well. If something isn’t making you money, then you don’t have 5 or 10 years to fix that anymore.
I think Enterprise does help that level of understanding. It gives a real kind of high-level view of how a company works and draws great parallels with our company and the rest of the tech industry. So what are we going to invest in? And quite early on, if something isn’t making us money, we get out of it. So Enterprise brings some really great parallels there.
In Celemi Enterprise™, teams act as companies competing for the same customers in a fierce marketplace. Each participant assumes a management role in Marketing and Sales, Development and Services, Planning and Delivery, Finance and Control. The goal? Earn short-term profit while creating long-term value. Over 8 years, teams annually win or lose customers based on the company’s offerings, performance and brand positioning.
Strategize, implement and adapt!