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Stories from my life (Part 5): Reflections for employees at time of bank consolidation

  • January 11, 2019
  • , Nikkei evening edition , p. 12
  • JMH Translation

I spent about a month writing this Group CEO Statement.

By Yasuhiro Sato, chairman of Mizuho Financial Group


I became chief executive officer (CEO) of the Mizuho Financial Group in June 2011.


To create a coherent chain of leadership and command in line with Mizuho’s history, I consolidated two banks [which had originally been three banks] into one and three securities companies into one. It went anything but smoothly.


To help our employees shed the thinking of their former banks, we endeavored to reform the corporate culture and focused on having the Mizuho Financial Group strategy called “One Mizuho” take root.


As the top executive, though, I thought there was something more that needed to be done to instill in employees a shared management philosophy and awareness of the times. I agonized over this for a long time.


I inherited the difficult project of consolidating what were originally three banks, and it was urgent that I set out shared objectives for all employees. I was inspired by the “CEO statements” that the major American banks of the day offered their staff.


During my summer vacation in 2015, I sat down and with great resolve wrote a “Group CEO Statement.” Once I started writing, things I wanted to share with the employees poured out of me, and I found myself tapping at my keyboard, completely absorbed in my own world.


It was indeed an “autobiography” filled with my personal “reflections.” After giving myself some time to cool off and gain some perspective, I tried to look at my autobiographical piece from an analytical, historical, and logical standpoint.


I spent about one month creating a booklet, composed of the “autobiography” and “Ten Principles of Leadership,” which derived from my personal experience. The booklet was used in the training program for top executive candidates.


There remained in the booklet a section that is a personal “reflection”: the challenge of balancing the pursuit of profits and the fulfillment of social mission. This is something that corporate leaders face.


“A bank cannot fulfill its social mission as a financial institution unless it has a strong foundation that makes sustainable growth possible even in the event of changes in objective circumstances.” That is what I wrote.


“Both people and companies must be strong to be gentle.”


This completely naive conviction is the life compass that I discovered as a result of the struggles I went through in my teens, something I touched on that in the first part of this series. This credo lives on in my heart.

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