Yutaka Sasaki: The new Representative Director, President and CEO of NTT DATA

Yutaka Sasaki, the newly appointed Representative Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of NTT DATA Group Corporation, talks with Gernot Kapteina, Managing Director of OYSTEC, in an exclusive interview. In this conversation, Sasaki-san shares his strategic vision for NTT DATA's global operations, discusses the integration of AI technologies, and reflects on his extensive career in the IT sector. This dialogue offers a unique glimpse into the leadership and innovation driving one of the world's leading IT service providers, highlighting Sasaki-san's commitment to fostering growth and enhancing technological advancements in the industry.

Kapteina: Congratulations on your recent appointment as the "Representative Director, President, and CEO" of NTT DATA Group Corporation. This position now places you at the helm of NTT DATA's global operations, including Japan. What does this step mean for you personally and professionally, and what are your main goals and priorities for this superpower role?

Sasaki-san: Thank you very much for your congratulations. This role represents both a significant challenge and an exciting opportunity for me. I am deeply grateful to everyone at NTT DATA for helping us achieve a total revenue of over 4.3 trillion yen last fiscal year. With our enhanced global presence, we are now positioned to compete with global industry leaders. My main goal is to ensure continuous growth through sustained investment.

: With your leadership now covering North America, EMEAL (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America), APAC, Business Solutions, and Global Technology Services, what are your visions for these units?

Sasaki-san: Through numerous mergers and acquisitions, our global business has grown substantially. Each unit has unique strengths and weaknesses. My vision is to leverage these strengths on a global scale, thereby enhancing our overall capabilities.

: Despite your new global responsibilities, you also remain the CEO of NTT DATA Japan. What is your future strategy for NTT DATA in Japan, and how do you ensure seamless management across its complex organizational landscape?

Sasaki-san: Japan is the origin of NTT DATA, and we have a strong market position here. My strategy is to export Japan's strengths to other regions. To stimulate the Japanese economy, we need to increase IT investment in both business and society. I aim to contribute to our customers' success in Japan. For global management, collaboration with our global business units will be key.

: Reflecting on the beginning of your career, what inspired you to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Tokyo, and how has this choice influenced your approach to your work in IT?

Sasaki-san: About 40 years ago, at the University of Tokyo, our majors were determined by our grades by the end of our second year. My involvement in the tennis club affected my grades, limiting my options. Mechanical Engineering matched my grades and attracted me due to its broad scope, including material mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and robotics. My exposure to robotics sparked my interest in the IT field.

: Starting from your early roles at NTT DATA in the 1990s, could you share how your career evolved within the company before you became CEO of NTT DATA Japan and now of NTT DATA globally?

Sasaki-san: It has been 34 years since I joined NTT DATA, and my journey has been extensive. Key experiences that supported my growth include managing large projects, which built my business leadership skills, and leading M&A projects, which enhanced my financial and legal acumen. Diverse experiences are crucial for personal and professional growth.

: How does leading a major tech firm in Japan differ from managing its global operations, particularly in terms of business culture?

Sasaki-san: The differences are not significant. Inclusiveness is vital. Even in Japan, we must avoid silos within business units. Increasing communication opportunities is a solution to this. Effective communication strengthens our operations beyond individual business units. Expanding these practices globally is essential.

: In your impressive rise through the ranks at NTT DATA, you have cultivated a distinct leadership style. Could you describe this style and how it has evolved over time?

Sasaki-san: In the IT services industry, teamwork is fundamental. Trust in people fosters trust from people. My leadership style, developed through project management experiences, is built on trust. I believe that trusting my teams will lead our company to future success.

: Reflecting on our interactions since the 2010s in Tokyo at NTT DATA Japan, how do you view the importance of cultivating relationships within the company? Are there notable differences between Japanese and Western business cultures?

Sasaki-san: In both Japan and the West, frequent interactions deepen relationships. While cultural and linguistic differences exist, we must be creative to enhance mutual understanding. For instance, simplifying communication is crucial. For business leaders, setting simple KPIs is key.

: AI is now a central topic in global discussions and crucial for IT leaders. How significant is AI for NTT DATA? With the launch of your proprietary AI, ‘Tsuzumi,’ could you share insights into its development and its anticipated impact on your business strategies?

Sasaki-san: AI is one of the most impactful technologies today, transforming both our business and our customers' operations. We established a Gen AI Office to manage investments in this field. NTT DATA’s “Tsuzumi,” a comparatively small-scale LLM, can be implemented in dedicated environments to handle customers' confidential information securely. We aim to position Tsuzumi distinctively from other Hyperscalers’ LLMs.

: Looking forward, what are the next challenges you wish to tackle, especially considering your new role? What future contributions do you envision making to the IT industry overall?

Sasaki-san: The role of IT has evolved dramatically, enabling us to transform both our clients' companies and society. As IT service professionals, we must aim for a sustainable future. I aspire to see the smiles of our customers and people worldwide, reflecting the positive impact that we at NTT DATA hope to bring about.

: Sasaki-san, thank you very much for this exclusive and insightful interview!


Link: NTT DATA "Announcement of new Executive Leadership Team" as of 2024/06/18 (English)

Link: NTT DATA "Message from CEO" Yutaka Sasaki (English) 


Copyright: NTT DATA Group Corporation, University of Tokyo, and other entities mentioned are registered trademarks of their respective organizations.


タグ: Interview