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Japan Country Manager for Multinational Biotechnology Company


1. The Brief

The Japanese subsidiary of a well-known rare disease company was not in good shape. The country head had been promoted from the international unit, without prior Japan experience, and the company was having some high profile issues with both its pipeline and increased competition for its once pioneering therapies. In Japan, the lack of both language skills and skills to engage with the team meant that morale was low and performance was suffering.

They needed a strong leader to turn the business around, re-engage and motivate the workforce, and rebuild trust from the global and international leadership.

2. Execution

Initially, the international team engaged Morunda to map out the market in Japan. We identified around 38 potential candidates – either GMs of smaller companies or significant BU heads, especially focusing on Neurology/CNS or rare diseases. Primary Care was not included. Targets were at foreign capital companies where Japan leadership would be reporting to global, and candidates should have international experience.

They then asked us to approach agreed targets from the list, screen and introduce the most qualified candidates. Given the issues that the company was having at that stage, we developed a compelling vision about the opportunity, being very honest about the current issues, but also clearly mapping out the future direction of the company.

3. Result

In total, 6 candidates were interviewed, out of 8 introductions, with one candidate successfully placed. 3 additional candidates had expressed a high level of interest and were ready to be introduced if the lead candidate, for whatever reason, was not successful.

Post market-map, the execution stage started in early October and the successful candidate joined in early January.

4. Impact

Very quickly, it was clear that the successful candidate’s people-management skills were very strong, and morale quickly improved. His ability to engage with the workforce at all levels was something that someone without Japanese skills would not have been able to do.

Trust in the Japan business started improving and the turnaround is progressing well. We are helping the new Japan GM rebuild his leadership team.

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