President's Message at the 2015 New Employees' Initiation Ceremony

April 1, 2015

Good morning. I am Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO of ITOCHU Corporation.

Today, I am very happy to welcome 140 new colleagues to our Company: 128 of you in career positions and 12 in clerical positions. For this fiscal year’s recruitment, 9,511 applicants took the written entrance exam, while another 2,219 took the exam for clerical positions. The competition equates for 74 to 1 for career openings, and 184 to 1 for a clerical openings. These figures show that each of you cleared great hurdles in being selected to join ITOCHU.

As you start your career as an ITOCHU employee, I want to give just two pieces of advice that I urge you to remember during the long tenure with the company that is ahead of you. Having just joined ITOCHU, you may not be able to fully visualize the things I am about to say, so I ask you to at least imprint in your memory the points I am about to mention.

The first point is “to strive to add some personal value to every work assignment.”

Reluctantly, I must inform you that even if you graduated from university with honors, you can’t expect to be a mainstay of the company in your first year on the job. During this coming year, you may be assigned to prepare
internal documents or to perform other ordinary and repetitious work such as making photocopies. But remember that none of this work should be considered a waste of time. Please note that if you strive to add some personal value to your assignments, the job skills you acquire in time will be far greater than those of people who treat requests from supervisors and senior colleagues merely as miscellaneous chores and follow instructions mechanically. For example, when you are instructed to prepare a document, try to add some value of your own by making it easier to understand. The efforts you make can be as minor as adding a few more details to the document or changing the layout in some way. This kind of proactive attitude is a very important for working at a shosha. As you make this a habit, you will be raising your individual value, and before long, the people inside and outside ITOCHU will start viewing you as a capable employee.

My second point is to “become a professional in your assigned field.”

No matter how small the scale or business field is, there are professionals in every sphere, and I want you to become such a professional. Only by having the professional drive to become an expert in your field will you master the ropes and essentials of the job. Once people recognize your professionalism, they will rely more and more on you. Then, more information and opportunities will come your way, and this will in turn enable you to expand the range of your capabilities. A sogo shosha is a collective organization of professionals who join together to conduct business in a wide range of fields. The corporate value of a sogo shosha is driven higher when such professionals combine their knowledge and skills. Keep in mind, however, that in reality you may go through some difficult times, for example, if you are not assigned to the division of your initial choice or the work you are assigned is not what you had expected. It is precisely when faced with this kind of hardship that I want you to concentrate on the job at hand in your assigned post. Providing that you work hard and rise to the challenge no matter of what the job entails, each of your efforts and achievements will lead the way toward becoming a professional in your field. These will also be the first steps in becoming an individual who is capable of maximizing his or her value in any industrial field or division in the future.

I really want you to be inspired by and rise to the various challenges awaiting you here at ITOCHU. We welcome challenges, and our ever-continuing goal is to become, and remain, the leader in our industry. Just as the achievements of your predecessors have been passed on to you, in time you will in turn be passing down your achievements to those who follow you. During such time the baton is in your hands, please do your utmost to help close, at least to some degree, the gap between ITOCHU and our larger competitors.

I hope that you are confident and proud of the fact that you were chosen to be here and that you will have a most successful career with us.

Once again, I welcome you and congratulate you on joining ITOCHU Corporation!