Q&A: Honda Appoints New President (page 2)

Feb 26, 2009
Kenichi Takata and Yutaka Chikaoka, Nikkei Monozukuri

Q: Why did you decide to join Honda?

Ito: I was studying airplanes when I was a student. I visited various companies with my friends for some time. At that time, Honda's headquarters was in Harajuku, where I talked with its personnel representative over a cup of tea.

"Our company might build airplanes as well," he said. I had been interested in Honda as a motorcycle lover. "(Moreover,) I might be able to be engaged in airplane development. No company could be better," I thought and that was how I ended up joining Honda.

Q: What kind of company do you want to transform Honda into?

Ito: It's difficult to say for how long into the future I will be responsible for the company, but in my opinion, Honda is an exciting company from the start. (We hear that people think) products from Honda are interesting. Honda has the expression (as "its creed") "Joy of Buying, Joy of Selling, Joy of Creation," which is exactly what I am aiming to realize.

(Our customers feel,) "I'm really glad I did. It is fun," buying a Honda product. Selling such products brings us joy. Also, it's truly exciting to develop and produce such products. A company that creates such circles of joy is ideal, I think.

Q: Where do you think Honda is currently coming up short?

Ito: I think Honda slightly lacks energy to address that creed (the Three Joys). We must return to the Three Joys once again, inspire motivation and strive for success while encouraging ourselves with "That's what we are seeking, let's enjoy working together."

Q: On the contrary, what are Honda's advantages, areas in which Honda is second to none?

Ito: It's a tough question, but, like Mr. Fukui, no one behaves arrogantly at Honda. Even the president remains close to field. Honda's advantage lies in the fact that everyone loves manufacturing, not in its hierarchy. Honda's absolute superiority lies in the fact that it has a climate and a culture where we can all approach fields and share opinions.

Q: Why did you appoint Senior Managing Director Ito as the next president?

Fukui: Honda's president must love cars and motorcycles after all. That's one. Another is the mind that values fields. Physical and mental vitality is also an essential ingredient for the president. Also, Ito has the ability to quickly take action and make decisions.

Q: How do you describe Mr Ito in a word?

Fukui: Tough.

Q: What was your impression when you were offered the position?

Ito: About 47% of me felt "very honored" and the remaining 53% felt "Oh my gosh, this will be tough." However, after carefully considering it, I replied (to Mr. Fukui) that I was eager to assume the position as the job would be worth the challenge.

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