Feb. 28, 2022
“Consistent Belief” and “Courage to Change”
Yo Honma, President and CEO, NTT DATA Corporation
Hideki Matsuyama, Professional Golfer
Through IT (information technology), we can create a more affluent society. Together with its customers, NTT DATA has been helping to develop a digital society by building the systems that support society. Now, as the digitalization of society accelerates, we are aiming for even greater growth, setting ourselves the challenge of becoming one of the top five global companies in the IT services industry. President Yo Honma, who leads us in this endeavor, sat down for a conversation with Hideki Matsuyama, the internationally renowned professional golfer. The two exchanged their views on the importance of having the faith to stay the course as well as the courage to change. They also talked about the importance of working together with colleagues and the importance of professionalism and teamwork.
Our goal is to attain global Top 5 status
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Honma: Congratulations on winning the Masters. Having sponsored you since last year, we are delighted to see you achieved such a wonderful result. Our company also firmly believes that we must never back down.
Matsuyama: Thank you for your support. I have been competing in the US PGA Tour since 2014. There were times when my results were not so good. It’s a world where just as I clear one hurdle, there is always a higher one waiting for me. To be honest, there have been many times when I felt like I would just cave in to the pressure. But I didn’t give up. I kept working at it, with a strong conviction that I was going to reach the top globally. Thanks to your help, I was able to win the Masters last year. Now I am determined to work harder to achieve a higher level.
Honma: Your unwavering drive and unparalleled discipline are truly inspiring. NTT DATA has also set a goal to become one of the top five companies in the global IT services industry by 2025. Just like you, we are taking on the world.
I believe that this challenge requires both consistent belief and courage to change. In the 33 years since our founding, we have delivered new value through various IT systems that support society. Our constant faith is rooted in certain fundamental ideas that we will continue to maintain as a company. Among these is our mission statement, that “Using information technology to create new paradigms and values, which help contribute to a more affluent and harmonious society.” Also of vital importance are the building solid client relationships based on trust over the years. On the other hand, there are the various problems that have come to light against the backdrop of COVID-19. The way we live and do business is changing dramatically. To maximize the value we provide to our customers, we ourselves must change. We must avoid being bound by conventional wisdom. That is what I mean by having the courage to change. I hope to achieve my goals by continuing to provide new value to our customers with both consistent belief and courage to change.
Matsuyama: The PGA Tour, where the world's top players compete, is full of people who are not only very talented, but who have unique personalities. The one thing I never changed in my quest to reach the top was to practice until I myself was satisfied. On the other hand, what I have changed is the way I use my body and the way I practice. I adjust these as I get older. It does indeed take a lot of courage to change. Change is really hard. But if you hesitate to change, you will not be able to continue to perform at your best. Only when we have the courage to absorb new things again can we move forward. What is important is first to know yourself. Then you must keep trying without giving up.
Honma: So it’s about continuing to do what you set out to do—and doing it thoroughly. You can't do your best if you don't have faith. It’s important to create a strong frame of reference. There is a saying in Japanese, “Luck, stolidity, and perseverance.” The idea is that these are the elements of success. If you persevere with doing ordinary things thoroughly without being caught up in the past, luck will follow. When I look at you, I feel that you really demonstrate this concept in your efforts.
Refine your skills to become a professional
Cultivating digital talent
Matsuyama: To be honest, there are times when things don't go the way I want them to and I feel like giving up. But whatever the circumstances may be, I make sure to concentrate on every single shot I play. As a professional golfer, delivering results is what matters. So I feel that it is very important to please the fans who support me. That has been the way I have always approached golf. I put in the practice so that I can always perform at my best. I look for ways to improve. There are opportunities and hints to improve in any situation. What you have accumulated so far will not go to waste. I guess improving your skills as a professional is vital, whatever your field is.
Honma: I agree. Continuously refining your skills is so important. I’d like to see young people find a special area in which they excel. Then they should continue to improve their skills, become professionals, and fully demonstrate their abilities. When someone is able to demonstrate their individual abilities as a professional, they will be able to achieve results. That in turn will give them confidence. I think it is very important to create this kind of cycle, with a good rhythm.
Matsuyama: To your point about improving skills, the use of digital technology is growing among professional golfers. For example, there are ballistic measurement devices and apps now that can analyze your swing. In the past I had relied on my senses to make adjustments. Now I try to be conscious of the gap between what my senses tell me and what the data shows. It's still quite difficult.
Honma: The best mix of the real and online world is a very important point. The spread of remote working and online meetings due to the pandemic have shown just how much business can be conducted online. On the other hand, there are many situations where we can reaffirm the value of the real world. We propose the best solutions by freely using both world’s to suit its purposes. That is how we contribute to the digital transformation of our customers.
As digital transformation initiatives gain momentum, the need for digital skills will increase. The importance of IT personnel will increase further. It is predicted that if Japan does not make progress in reskilling its workforce there will be a shortage of about 450,000 IT personnel by 2030. Our company is also promoting people development with the aim of achieving “100% digital talent.” We also support the development of digital skills not only within the company, but for our customers’ employees. People development is an essential foundation for sustainable development. As the great Konosuke Matsushita* put it, "People before Products."
Contributing as a team is all the more rewarding
Where there's a will, there's a way
Honma: Alongside improving your skills and becoming a professional, it is important to pursue your goals by working together with colleagues in your project team or organization. So much can be achieved by creating an ecosystem of professionals with diverse skills who collaborate across industries and fields.
Matsuyama: No matter what field you are in, you are never alone. As you move toward your goal, you need to have friends who are of a similar mindset and walk the same path. Teamwork is important. The presence of my team has been huge for me. It has helped me improve my performance as I have worked my way to the top. I was able to keep pushing myself even through difficult times because I believed in our team of professionals.
Honma: I was very moved watching Team Matsuyama's win at the Masters and your joy at each other's success. There is nothing quite like the joy I feel when I can work with colleagues to overcome difficulties together so that we can contribute to our customers and society. Contributing to our customers and to society through teamwork is one of our most important values.
Matsuyama: Listening to you today has reminded me of the importance of having faith as you move forward. Young people going out into society will be able to see a diverse world. They will also see career paths expand before them. I hope that they can each choose paths that they believe in. Once they have chosen their paths, I hope they can work hard to achieve their goals. There are times when the power to believe can help them bounce back from adversity and pave the way.
Honma: “Where there is a will, there is a way.” To achieve this, we must each set our own high aspirations. We have to continue to work toward achieving our aims, with a strong sense of purpose. I hope young people can have the same kind of spirit as you—to aim for the world and follow through with extreme focus. Together with these passionate young people, I would like to Envisioning a new society for the future and work toward making that a reality.