Annual Report 2021

Regional spotlight

North East Asia

Traditionally, executives and organizations in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are drawn to IMD’s valuable offering of face-to-face programs, in-person networking and informal social interactions with international peers. COVID-19 travel restrictions, therefore, impacted activity in 2021 as many programs shifted to virtual or online formats.

IMD seized the opportunity to plant seeds to further support its strategic plans for the region, with promising signs already emerging in 2021. Previous investments in custom programs, talent assessment and development, thought leadership, branding and relationship building bore fruit.

Differences between the executive education needs of companies across the region, including the adoption of virtual learning, have created opportunities for segmentation and differentiation. IMD also increased the coordination between its North East and South East Asia operations to unlock further strategic advantage.

Differentiated programs

As the leader in the Japanese market for global executive education, IMD provides custom programs to more than 10 global companies that are headquartered in Japan, including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Honda, NTT Group, and AGC.

In 2021, IMD continued its collaboration with DENSO, a global leader in automotive technologies, shifting a face-to-face transformation journey to an impactful virtual format. In addition, to ensure the learning impact and participation of Japanese executives, who make up half of the cohort, IMD faculty adjusted the vocabulary and speed of sessions, and shared learning materials in advance.

The use of IMD’s bilingual Japanese coaches, in particular, provided a secure base for the participants, enabling deeper reflection and building confidence for interactions with international colleagues. This blend of local relevance and global perspective, offered also to other corporate clients, differentiated IMD’s offering in Japan.

Talent assessment and development

IMD’s partnership with multinational Japanese tech manufacturer Konica Minolta has grown to incorporate business transformation, thought leadership, and integrated talent assessment and development.

Using its new Voyager framework, and now working across an expanding footprint to include Japan, China, other Asian markets, Europe and the United States, IMD provides leadership pipeline advice and an effective combination of organizational development through custom programs and individual development of executives through specific open programs.

Strengthening a leading brand

IMD accelerated its outreach in Japan in 2021, further enhancing its market-leading brand.

Nikkei Global Management Forum
In 2021, building on a 20-year relationship with one of the world’s leading economic media groups, IMD continued to support the Nikkei Global Management Forum, which convenes top global CEOs for two days of knowledge sharing and networking.

A session exploring how policymakers and business can accelerate decarbonization, led by IMD President Jean-François Manzoni and Professor Kazuo Ichijo proved popular, underlining the important role IMD plays in promoting international and cross-sectorial collaboration.

As part of its partnership with Nikkei to share IMD thought leadership with business leaders in Japan, faculty published content in Nikkei’s most influential column “Keizai Kyoshitsu (Economic Classroom)”. For example, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Leadership Ginka Toegel argued for the importance of allyship in diversity and inclusion to promote the advancement of female leaders (below). In addition, IMD and Nikkei have collaborated on the publication of Japanese versions of IMD faculty books.

The 4th Switzerland Japan Economic Forum
Co-hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland, the Swiss Chamber of Commerce and IMD, the forum explored the theme “Mobilizing Our Capital Towards Sustainability” with Swiss and Japanese experts from government, finance, business and academia.

IMD’s representative in the region, Naoshi Takatsu, curated the forum and provided closing remarks for an event that attracted hundreds of participants in a virtual format and featured Swiss Sustainable Finance President Patrick Odier, Swiss Deputy State Secretary for International Finance Stefan Flückiger and Chief Sustainable Finance Officer at Japan’s Financial Services Agency, Satoshi Ikeda.

Takatsu also delivered a presentation on the decarbonization and digital transformation initiatives of Japanese companies to Swiss Federal President Guy Parmelin at a working dinner at the Swiss Embassy in Tokyo during the Olympics.

Strengthening a leading brand