We’ve been publishing our top 30 Japanese companies in Europe intermittently for 5 years now. We regularly receive enquiries for recommendations on which Japanese companies to approach as potential employers. We’re not a recruitment consultancy so we don’t have any inside track on what jobs are available (please talk to our friends at Centre People Appointments for more practical assistance), but I would say that size in Europe and growth are important factors to consider.
Relative size in Europe is a key factor
If the European operations of a Japanese company represent a substantial part of their business, then it’s more likely that Europeans will have some influence within the organisation. There will also be more promotion opportunities and career paths than working for a smaller organisation in Europe. For that reason, it’s worth trying to join the organisation in the European/EMEA headquarters.
Companies with a relatively high proportion of their employees in EMEA (25%+) include NSG (Pilkington), Asahi (brewery company recently acquired Grolsch, Peroni, Pilsner Urquell etc brands), NTT Data, Toyota Tsusho (acquired French company CFAO with a big presence in Africa), Asahi Glass, JT International, Konica Minolta.
Has the company been growing?
Not only are growing companies more likely to have job openings, but they are more fun to work for. Japanese companies are still growing their operations in Europe overall. However some have been undergoing substantial restructuring, which has resulted in significant headcount reductions in some countries, and significant growth in others. For example Fujitsu is reducing headcount in the UK and Germany, but growing rapidly in Poland and Portugal.
Companies that have grown the most rapidly in Europe (more than doubling) over the past five years are Nidec, NTT Data and Panasonic.
Working for an acquired company
The rapidly growing companies have mostly expanded through acquisition – for example Dentsu, Nidec, Panasonic (Ficosa, Zetes) and NEC (Northgate Public Services), Toyota Industries (Vanderlande), Hitachi (Ansaldo). Working in those acquired companies might also be an attractive option, as there will be more autonomy, and less domination by Japanese management layers than Japanese subsidiaries which have grown organically.
Companies who score highly in terms of growth and significant European presence are NTT Data (third largest company in Europe) and Dentsu (8th).
In terms of sectoral growth – as well as IT companies that are moving into services and solutions like NTT Data, Konica Minolta and Panasonic – Daikin (# 27) and Mitsubishi Electric (#30) have both grown substantially recently, probably due to expansion of their eco friendly air conditioning businesses.
For new graduates, many of the top 30 have graduate trainee schemes, which would be worth considering if you are looking for a chance to be seconded to Japan.
Top 3 largest Japanese employers in Europe, Middle East and Africa:
1. Sumitomo Electric Wiring
Large numbers of employees in manufacturing, as making automotive wire harnesses is still a fairly manual job. Manufacturing jobs will tend to be in North Africa and Eastern Europe. There are plenty of jobs in design engineering and sales as well, and will be future proof as apparently electric vehicles also require complex wire harnesses to operate.
EMEA headquarters: UK (SEWS-E), Italy (CABIND), Germany (Bordnetze)
No graduate trainee scheme, but this page gives a flavour of the jobs available in the region for SEWS-E https://www.sews-e.com/current-vacancies/
Very similar to Sumitomo Electric Wiring in terms of business and jobs but privately owned, so more of a family style corporate culture. Has a YEA!cademy (Yazaki Europe training academy) https://www.yazaki-europe.com/career.html
EMEA headquarters: Germany
3. NTT Data
Owned by Japan’s NTT (formerly Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, now partly privatised). NTT Data has acquired various companies in Europe and elsewhere such as itelligence, Cirquent, Value Team, Intelligroup, and Keane. NTT is in the middle of restructuring and have put a new global headquarters, NTT Limited, in London. NTT Data will be kept as a separate organisation, however.
Lots of training and chances to go to Japan, however recruitment seems more by country/company than centralised and as you can see here https://www.nttdata.com/global/en/careers
EMEA headquarters: UK
If you would like a consultation on working for a Japanese company, then you can book an hour with Pernille Rudlin here.
We also recommend doing the e-learning modules from the leading global intercultural training firm focused on Japanese business – Japan Intercultural Consulting – on working in a Japanese company – each module comes with a certificate – proof that you know what you’re letting yourself in for!
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