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 SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- American and European companies, who are opening Japanese divisions and subsidiaries at a record clip, are creating strong recruiting demand for executives capable of serving as "country managers," say two West Coast search executives who specialize in Asian and Pacific Rim recruiting. And, more than likely, those positions are going to talented Japanese nationals, rather than expatriates.
 Margaret King, an executive director in the San Francisco office of Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the world's largest search firms, and Kris Aoyama, her counterpart in the firm's Los Angeles office, say the trend results from a combination of factors, including the high cost of expatriate compensation packages, and the fact that more than ever, Japanese executives are open to the idea of recruiting.
 "Anyone under age 50 in Japan grew up with completely different educational and life experiences than have traditionally prevailed there," said Aoyama, a Japanese national who joined Russell Reynolds from Tokyo and specializes in biotechnology and technology recruiting. "The American influence on all aspects of our culture has led to a younger generation of executives more inclined to risk-taking, more open to new ideas, and far better equipped to handle international assignments."
 King, a technology search specialist, said better language skills are only one aspect of the capabilities these younger executives possess.
 "For well over a decade, the large Japanese companies have made it a point to send their top employees to U.S. and European business schools," she said. "The pool of well-educated Japanese business executives is growing by thousands per year. Additionally, these same multinational firms have been rotating key executives through overseas assignments for decades. Sometimes, the employee's children all have been born on foreign soil. With substantial multi-cultural exposure, these executives are more comfortable working for American and other foreign companies."
 The allure of a foreign employer is partly economic, says Aoyama. He points to the fact that Japan has recorded negative growth in GNP for two consecutive quarters -- a surprising experience for many Japanese.
 "Japan is in a recession, and recessions are always a good time to recruit," he said. "Not only is the candidate's current job security lower, but his compensation expectations also are tempered."
 The surprisingly severe economic downturn also has taken its toll on the notion of "lifelong employment," according to King and Aoyama.
 "For the first time in memory, top Japanese companies are actually experiencing layoffs," said King. "As a result, employees no longer feel that long-term commitment to one employer guarantees job security."
 American companies are taking advantage of the unusually good recruiting opportunities, instituting a record number of searches, says King. And, while still a lengthy process, recruiters find more fertile ground for searches than ever before.
 King and Aoyama attribute their own success in locating candidates to their collaborative efforts with the Tokyo office of Russell Reynolds Associates, opened six years ago, and now the leading search firm in Japan. Additionally, they say, the search process is more straightforward and acceptable as a result of the changed employment attitudes already mentioned.
 "Although having a network in Japan is still essential, we no longer have to do the dance,'" said King. "In the past, we sometimes met with the candidate three or four times before a job was even discussed. Now, even senior managers are bringing their resumes with them to the first meeting."
 Aoyama said that Japanese job candidates are becoming more entrepreneurial. "A challenging position and the opportunity to make a personal impact is a compelling draw," he said. "Candidates also are much more willing to take stock options as part of the package."
 In fact, said Aoyama, Japanese candidates are becoming more like their counterparts in Singapore and Taiwan, who have traditionally chosen to run smaller companies instead of the security of mid- management positions in giant firms.
 King and Aoyama offered the following examples of recent searches to illustrate their points:
 -- Apple Computer was able to attract an 20-year computer industry veteran from a Japanese subsidiary of a large American company by offering him stock options and the chance to head a new Japanese subsidiary.
 -- A top U.S. technology company now establishing a Japanese subsidiary will fill all its senior manager positions with Japanese nationals. Despite the risky nature of the venture, there has been no shortage of candidates.
 -- Investment Bank Alex Brown, setting up a Japanese operation, chose as president a Japanese national who began his career at a large Japanese trading company. Frustrated by the many layers of management above him in a system that rewards seniority, this under-40 Stanford MBA instead opted for a high risk/high reward opportunity.
 -- A superstar biotech firm, opening a Japanese marketing subsidiary, will staff with Japanese nationals from the president down to the department heads.
 "Right now, the demand is for sales and marketing expertise," said Aoyama. "A second area of need is for controller/financial officers -- particularly executives who understand the intricacies of multinational accounting requirements."
 King and Aoyama say that many of their successful candidates are not found in Japan, even though they are Japanese nationals.
 "Most of our searches are now conducted internationally, utilizing our network of offices here, in Asia, and in Europe," said King. "We just recruited the president of Genzyme's Japanese operation -- and we found him working here in the United States."
 -0- 1/12/93
 /CONTACT: Margaret King of Russell Reynolds Associates, 415-392-3130, or Hatti Hamlin of The Montgomery Group, 415-391-3040, for Russell Reynolds Associates/

CO: Russell Reynolds Associates ST: California IN: SU:

SM -- NYYFNS4 -- 3797 01/12/93 07:04 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 12, 1993

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