The Economist Weekly, [Rec] web version has released

The Weekly Economist, released on 1/10 (Tue), is now available as the web version.
If you haven’t read his interview article yet, we hope you will enjoy it.
It is a wonderful article that expresses Chief’s thoughts on Owl, and his passion of people first spirit.

Please see below for English version of the interview article.


Owl Plus Partners Inc  CEO・World Stimulator

Hironobu Kitajima

After graduating from the Faculty of Commerce at Chuo University, he started his career in the advertising industry at Hakuhodo Lintas.
In 2006, transferred to Hakuhodo, and in 2009 moved to JWT, a foreign-affiliated WPP group. Three years after joining the company, he was promoted to MD. Acquired cutting-edge management skills overseas.
In 2019, became the first CEO of Wunderman Thompson Tokyo.
In January 2022, established his own company.

Creating growth and happiness for companies and consumers through ideas and communication

To understand CEO Hironobu Kitajima’s passion for business, one must unravel the company name “Owl Plus Partners”. First of all, “Owl” is a symbol of wisdom in the West, and the origin of the name was inspired by the logo of Jay Walter Thompson, the world’s first advertising agency, where CEO Kitajima once worked, which featured an owl holding a lamp and leading people.

He also says that the word “Partners” expresses his desire to work with clients from the strategic phase as a communications expert, not just a vendor, and to work together with them as partners to grow their business.

The reason why CEO Kitajima established the company in January 2022 is because of the rapid evolution of digital technology and the COVID, which has required companies to change their business models and has also transformed people’s lives. “It has changed real-first to digital-first, but what companies really need to think about is people first, taking care of people’s lives, including employees. In this context, I wanted to build corporate growth and consumer happiness through a variety of ideas,” he recalls.

Specifically, the company uses digital tools and other means to visualize the position of client companies and provides consulting on the direction in which they should move forward. In this process, he places particular emphasis on ideas, both in product development and in communication creation.

With his extensive career and personal connections in Japan and abroad, he supports Japanese companies in their global expansion and global companies in their entry into the Japanese market. He introduces, “we are now supporting to develop a business model that commits the software provider to protecting users from digital crime and harmful websites.”

He is able to provide consulting services to both domestic and foreign companies because he is familiar with both Japanese companies, which make decisions from the bottom up, and foreign companies, which make decisions from the top down. Of course, it is not a question of which is better or worse. “For example, Japanese brands have many good points, such as the precision, safety, and security of their products, and we want to successfully integrate them with the needs of overseas companies and introduce them to the global market. I would like to successfully combine these with the needs of the world market and deliver them to the global market.” He is also passionate about branding the “wabi-sabi spirit” that is unique to Japan. This is the reason why he has included the words “World Stimulator” in his title.

However, he points out that there is a major challenge in building a new business model based on Web 3.0, etc. “There is a generation gap that is completely different from the past. The gap in sensitivity between the generation that has seen the transition from analog to digital and the Millennials and Generation Z, who were born and raised surrounded by digital, cannot be filled,” he says. So, what should we do? CEO Kitajima clearly states that the answer is to “learn from the bottom up.”

In other words, to bring about bold change, the “sensitivity and sensibility” of the Millennials and Generation Z, who have grown up taking digital for granted, must be at the center of business strategy. To this end, it is important to create a place for them to grow their own companies, and “beyond the hierarchy, they are always sharing ideas for the growth of the company. If more and more Japanese companies like this are created, design thinking to discover and solve problems will become more active within the company, incubation and work style reform will progress, and the world will once again pay attention to the Japanese brand,” he emphasizes.

CEO Kitajima’s motto is to guide these companies like an owl holding a lamp to light the way forward, just as the company name implies. He says that his father gave him this motto, which he interprets as “being a matured man” to help those in need. That is my source of inspiration. In business as well, he says, I want to be a partner who reaches out to companies in need, commits to a solution, and if the result is not good, discusses the cause of the problem. CEO Kitajima hopes to be that kind of partner.

As such a partner, CEO Kitajima’s question to his clients is quite simple: “Are you making people happy?” He then urges them to act by asking, “Why don’t we work together to create new ideas so that the products we make will make people happy around the world?” To those managers who have the enthusiasm to respond, he will transform from manufacturing to product creation and provide them with information on how they can grow by targeting the world from a variety of angles, aiming for growth together.

Looking to the future, CEO Kitajima hopes to work to create truly strong leaders from the millennial generation. “I want to continue to communicate to that generation how important ideas and communication are, and what it means to live with others, in a way that is in tune with the times,” he said. The creation of communication is what makes us who we are. Creating communication means creating a culture that will connect us to the future. This, in turn, will lead to the growth of the company and the happiness of consumers.

Community Contribution
CEO Kitajima says that his current business, which is dedicated to various companies and their employees in Japan and abroad, is itself a social contribution, and that his own social contribution is to open up Japan, which tends to be closed off nowadays, through communication. “I would like to reiterate to business owners that the raison d’etre of a company is to make people happy. This is my contribution to society as well,” he says, adding that he hopes to create a society where everyone can grow together and live in harmony.



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