Pioneer Back on Its Feet
“I was greatly
saddened by the decline of the distinguished Pioneer over the last few
years. . . . When Kotani became president, and indeed through our meetings
before then, I sensed that he was a philosophical, optimistic, and farsighted
person. I also knew that he was very open and upright, so I had great
expectations of him. His abilities have been widely reported, and he talks
about the essence of his reforms in the interview. As a result of his
efforts, Pioneer has achieved the expected results with flying colors.
“Kotani talks about how he was distressed that so many people had
to leave the company and that Pioneer is still a long way from being its
true self. But the structural reforms were completed in the fiscal year
ending March 2010, and Pioneer is now tackling a growth strategy toward
March 2013. Kotani expressed his determination to definitely achieve the
targets. I believe that next spring I will be able to proclaim loudly
in this column that Pioneer has fully recovered.”
Those opening two paragraphs are from my monthly column in August 2010.
In that issue we also carried an interview with Pioneer President Susumu
Kotani, who had been appointed to the post one and a half years earlier.
The Kotani regime had made a start by telling all of Pioneer’s employees
that there were two things the company management needed and he would
tackle: speedy decision making and strong leadership. Kotani began with
structural reforms that brought much pain, and needless to say the outside
world watched on with bated breath.
One and a half years later the foundations of the Kotani regime had been
established, and Pioneer announced a corporate vision for the period up
to the end of March 2015: “Spread the smiles. Feel the vibes. Share
the passion. Pioneer engages you anytime, anywhere.” A growth strategy
was launched through management that followed Pioneer’s founding
Then in the fiscal year ending in March 2011, as planned, Pioneer shifted
from deficit to profit. The achievement of this target in just two years
following Kotani’s appointment as president was indeed a manifestation
of the strong leadership and speed of its management, and it was a truly
praiseworthy feat. It was also good news for the industry, and I would
like to extend my heartfelt congratulations.
During this time we experienced the Lehman shock, a worldwide simultaneous
recession, and the sharp appreciation of the yen, but Kotani calmly went
ahead with his structural reforms and conversely saw the Lehman shock
as a last chance for recovery. He says that all employees, including the
management team, came to have a profound sense of crisis.
Whenever I meet Kotani, I am reminded of that famous remark by Winston
Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;
an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Yes, I strongly
sensed Kotani’s optimism. Furthermore, I realized that he had the
ability to foresee what would happen in the future, and I firmly believed
in the success of his reforms.
Nevertheless, corporate management is a never-ending task. I think that
Pioneer has taken just the first step toward full recovery. From now on,
I look forward to Kotani’s further leadership, and I will continue
to cheer him on.