Hidetoshi Seki, Board Member and Senior Vice President at NTT TechnoCross in Tokyo, talks to Gernot Kapteina, Founder of OYSTEC, about his role as an Executive in the ICT industry and how exciting it is to balance management with the marketing of innovative IT solutions.
I am delighted to have you, Seki-san, join us for this interview today. Your career path and unique perspectives are certainly exciting, and I look forward to learning more about it.
Seki-san: Thank you very much. I am enthusiastic to hear your questions.
Can you first tell our readers about your university background?
Seki-san: Yes, I received my undergraduate degree from WASEDA University, where I studied Telecommunications Engineering and graduated in March 1989. I then continued my education at the same university and obtained my Master of Science and Engineering degree in Telecommunications in March 1991. I also have completed an MBA program at INSEAD in December 1996.
What did you feel was "special" about your majors; what interested you the most?
Seki-san: My degrees are in the field of Telecommunications and related fields, which is where my passion and interest lie in. But I want to add that I especially also always have a strong interest in Management, which also relates to my later career.
Can you share how you acquired the skills and knowledge necessary for management?
Seki-san: Throughout my career, I have always tried to acquire overall skills for general management. I started as an engineer, then I had opportunities to work in various organizations such as corporate planning, sales and marketing, service development, human resources, and so forth, where I was able to obtain wide range of skills to build up my overall management capabilities.
I was fortunate to be assigned as London Branch Manager in UK, then afterwards Deputy General Manager of Niigata Branch, where I was able to exert coordinated general management skills based on my experience. The MBA at INSEAD also helped me a lot as well.
You mentioned now already some of your professional positions. Can you walk our readers in more detail through your overall professional journey and highlight the companies and roles you have held thus far?
Seki-san: I have been in the telecommunications industry for over 30 years, starting my career in 1991 as an Optical Transmission Systems Engineer at NTT's Network Systems Development Center. After 4 years, I had an opportunity to be sent to INSEAD to study for MBA.
When I came back to Japan, I fortunately became one of the founding members of NTT’s global business as it was the time when NTT was deregulated to be able to expand to global market. In 2000, I was promoted to Senior Manager in the Global Sales Department, where I developed sales strategies focusing on US/European multi-national corporations as our primary clients.
In 2006, I was appointed as General Manager of NTT Europe's London Branch, where I managed the European and London Branch IT network and telecommunications infrastructure business for Japanese and global clients overseeing a team of approximately 40 employees.
Later in 2009, I was appointed as Deputy General Manager of NTT East's Niigata Branch, where I oversaw 1800 employees and revenue of 700 million dollars. After that, I moved to NTT Holdings as Senior Manager in the Human Resource Department, where I was responsible for HRM and HRD for top level managers at NTT Group (240,000 employees worldwide) and coordinating global HR management, training and development programs. It was during this time when I founded and developed Global Leadership Development Program (GLDP) for NTT’s global top talent in collaboration with IMD, a world-renowned business school in Switzerland.
But not many years later we met for the first time, and by then you were already in a new role in Toyosu.
Seki-san: Correct. That is because after that, it must be in 2015, I joined NTT DATA as Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Global Business. During this period, I developed global sales synergy by focusing on global accounts across the entire NTT Group organizations in Norths America, Europe, and Asia, creating global business size from client portfolio of 700 million to over 1 billion US Dollars.
Later on, in 2017, I was appointed as Vice President and Head of Strategy, China & APAC Business where I was responsible for strategy and organization development for China and Asia Pacific group companies with combined revenues of 700 million dollars.
And during that time, also you and I had quite a bit of shared projects in the global NTT DATA world. But now, we are both working in different firms. In particular, you came to NTT TechnoCross.
Seki-san: Yes, you are right. I am currently working as Board Member and Senior Vice President, Global Business, Customer Experience Business at NTT TechnoCross, where I am managing 50-million-dollar, 200 employees customer experience business department, providing world-leading, advanced technology solution to our global partners and clients.
That sounds like a strong scale. Can you tell our readers a bit more about NTT TechnoCross and its mission?
Seki-san: We aim to offer the best customer experience to create the future through “crossing”. That means, we “crossbreed” NTT’s core technologies to provide innovative solutions to our customers. Be it cross-border, cross-culture, cross-function, cross-company, or cross-technology. We take the best technologies, people, and partners, and create unmatched solutions to meet our customers’ needs and wants.
We take customer feedback seriously and gather it constantly, which leads to new research. This customer-centric research evolves into cutting-edge technologies and creates new solutions. The synergy among customer feedback, advanced research, and cutting-edge technologies helps NTT TechnoCross to continue delivering new solutions to delight our customers. One outcome was our flagship product which is ForeSight Voice Mining, an AI-based contact center analytics that leverages speech recognition and patented emotion analysis technologies.
That flagship product sounds very special. Do you want to disclose a bit more about it?
Seki-san: For sure. ForeSight Voice Mining is a premier contact center solution that offers a comprehensive set of features to enhance sales, customer experience, compliance, and operational excellence. Real-time support is provided to agents and supervisors, with actionable insights for managers and analysts.
The solution helps increase revenue, prevent customer churn, and improve customer experience. It also detects risky language and compliance risks and streamlines compliance to prevent costly mistakes. Furthermore, it improves agent training and coaching and increases the efficiency of the entire contact center. Our customers have achieved positive results in sales, customer satisfaction, compliance, and operational efficiency.
Can you tell us also about the global availability and market reach of your IT solution, ForeSight Voice Mining? Is it primarily a domestic Japan solution or is it offered globally?
Seki-san: It was developed and invented in Japan and as such, we have a strong customer base in Japan. However, we are also expanding our reach globally, currently having customers in Canada and are actively looking to expand into the European market in the near future.
We have now heard a lot of specifics about your current company. Let's take it a step further and talk about the importance of global business from a Japanese perspective in general: How important do you think global business is for Japanese IT companies overall?
Seki-san: I would say it is very, very important. One factor is that although Japan is still positioned as the world’s third largest economy, we have to admit our domestic market is shrinking based on our demographic change. I firmly believe our cutting-edge technologies combined with our cultural background would be of great value to global market.
The idea is that Japanese IT companies need to continue to grow outside of Japan, contributing to the global market through its advanced technologies together with human centric approach backed by its historical and cultural heritage.
Maybe that is exactly the proper way to go. As we near the conclusion of the interview, would you mind sharing with us the interests you have outside of your professional pursuits?
Seki-san: Recently, I have been exploring the idea of living or taking extended stays in southern France. The thought of immersing myself in the culture, experiencing the beautiful scenery, and being able to take time to relax and recharge is incredibly motivating to me. Specifically, I've been envisioning spending around 3 months out of the year in that region, to be able to fully experience and enjoy all that it has to offer. It would be a wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth, and I am excited to explore the possibilities further.
Thank you very much, Seki-san, for the insightful interview!
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