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Meet ‘Tokyo Joe’ Peters, CEO “I Search Worldwide, Japan”: Put Emphasis on “Them Not Self

Posted on April 1, 2010
Filed Under Global Staffing Perspectives, Interviews | 1 Comment

By Dave Mendoza

JOE QUOTABLES:

When I decided to retire from 32 years in the insurance industry I thought about what I would like to do going forward … I talked to the fellow who had started “I Search Worldwide” in Singapore … I then spoke with Richard Hoon, the founder of “I Search”, about opening an I Search office in Japan. I agreed to become the owner of the Japan franchise. We established a corporation in Japan and applied for a recruiting license with the Ministry of Labor. The company was established and the license granted and we started operations in 2005.”



• Joe Peters, CEO of “I Search Worldwide, Japan
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I Search Worldwide, Japan
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• Personal Causes: An orphanage in Tokyo
• Office/Cell Number: +81-3-5545-7803 (office); +81-90-6007-1000 (cell)
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Q&A with Joe Peters

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

JOE: Married for 39 years to Takako Ishiyama Peters. We live in Tokyo, Japan. Moved back here in 2002 after spending 10 years in Singapore & 1½ years in Malaysia. Third time to live in Japan for a total of 19 years here. We have 3 kids; all grown & living in the USA (Naomi, Stephanie & Chris); no pets at this time.

Most weekends find me on the golf course where I do my best to maintain my 16 handicap with the occasional game getting into the high 80s. We also enjoy hiking and trail walking in the mountains in Japan or along the rivers. We try to get a hike or two in each month to enjoy the scenery and as part of our healthy life style routine. Of course, some of the healthy life style is offset by the occasional wine & good food dinners we enjoy with friends at one of the many great restaurants Tokyo has to offer. I try to do some additional offsetting of these forays into the gourmet world with a couple or three workouts at the gym each week.

My wife & I are avid travelers and we make two or three trips outside of Japan each year in addition to domestic trips. Favorite destinations include San Francisco (home in the USA), Italy, and France, but we’re open to traveling to many countries, seeing new things, and making new friends.

I am a member of one of the Tokyo Toastmaster chapters where I’m also the Sergeant-At-Arms.

I chair the Direct Marketing Committee of The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. This committee holds several meetings per year where we invite speakers in to talk about direct marketing techniques, or other DM topics of interest to a lunch crowd. I also sit in as a member of the Chamber’s Membership Expansion sub-committee as well as being a member of a few other committees of the Chamber.


Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry? JOE: I only got started in this industry in 2005 so I continue to learn. However, I have always been involved in helping others with their careers as well as coaching and training others to enable them to improve their career and future.

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?

JOE: When I decided to retire from 32 years in the insurance industry I thought about what I would like to do going forward. Since I was interested in helping others, as well as continuing to train and build a team, I decided to take a hard look at the recruiting industry. I talked to the fellow who had started I Search Worldwide in Singapore several years ago. I worked with I Search when I was the CEO of AXA Life Insurance in Singapore and I was impressed with the integrity and success of the firm. I then spoke with Richard Hoon, the founder of I Search, about opening an I Search office in Japan. I agreed to become the owner of the Japan franchise. We established a corporation in Japan and applied for a recruiting license with the Ministry of Labor. The company was established and the license granted and we started operations in 2005.

I Search Worldwide in Japan has four main areas of recruiting: Insurance & Finance, Direct Marketing, Information-Communication-Technology, and Consumer Goods. We work with a very high level of integrity (in fact, the “I” in I Search is for Integrity) and our recruiters are well trained and very conscientious about their jobs and ensuring that our clients and candidates get the high level of service they deserve. We have placed people in roles from secretary to country manager with the main

“The Japanese recruiting market is extremely competitive, with the great majority of assignments done on a contingency basis and worked on by multiple firms.”

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?

JOE: It would have to be my first placement. That was a thrill and convinced me that this was the business to be in. The candidate was happy and the client was happy, and of course, I was very happy.

Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?


JOE: The person who got me started in the business, Richard Hoon, who started I Search Worldwide Pte. Ltd. in Singapore several years ago.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your role at “I Search Worldwide”

JOE: I own & manage I Search Worldwide Japan. We are a boutique sized firm with 7 people now, but with plans to grow larger in 2010.

Six Degrees: (A) What other companies’ recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?

JOE: There are thousands of firms in Japan and it would be difficult to pick one or two. We also do some joint work with a few firms, but we are careful to select only those firms who work with the same principals of integrity and fair-play that we believe in and practice.

(B) In what aspects are they superior?

JOE: We don’t feel any firm’s aspects are superior to ours. We believe that we work with full expertise and that we can do as good as, if not better, than our competitors.

“The insurance industry in Japan has been hit especially hard in 2009 as many companies curtailed sales activities of specific products and some companies decided to go out of the Japan market. … In insurance we target actuaries in addition to other specialized staff such as underwriters or insurance marketers. We may have one of the biggest databases of actuaries of any search firm in Tokyo. In Technology we target SEs and developers. In consumer goods it is mainly middle to upper management (back office) and of course, marketing managers.”

Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?


JOE: The growing use of Social Networks in recruiting. We see more and more candidates putting their data on these networks and more recruiters are contacting them through SNS methodologies.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry:

JOE: Unfortunately, there are few, if any, of these sort of events held in Tokyo. We would like to see more of them in the future or I will attend events in the USA to learn more techniques and cutting edge practices.

Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche? Has it effected your job or that of your fellow team members within the organization – If so, to what extent? (If you have been laid off, tell us about the experience, when it happened)

JOE: The recession has hit Japan just like the rest of the world. We have seen more of our clients freezing hiring or higher fewer people and those that tend to be a bit more careful about who they bring in. The insurance industry in Japan has been hit especially hard in 2009 as many companies curtailed sales activities of specific products and some companies decided to go out of the Japan market. As we are at year end we do see a bit of pick-up in the hiring now since companies are able to begin 2010 with fresh budgets for staffing.

Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities. Are there specific groups, both online and in-person that have proved fruitful in extending your personal brand and job seeking prospects?

JOE: We’ve done some extra marketing efforts this year by holding seminars for clients where we had a lawyer talk about the labor laws, and about hiring/firing practices for foreign firms in Japan, and another session with a trainer-consultant talking about keeping morale up in the recession economy.

Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do? Be specific

JOE: It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: When you are at a networking event don’t just run around the room handing out business cards like they were discount shopping flyers. Choose who you want to talk to, spend a bit of time with them, and get to know about them. Put the emphasis on “them” not on “yourself.” By doing this you’ll be able to follow up with a note or email that is more personal than just the usual, “It was great meeting you at the such & such event yesterday…”

Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?

JOE: At my age & stage I have reached and done many career goals. However, my next goal is to build I Search Worldwide Japan into a bigger, healthy profitable company with a great team.

Comments

One Response to “Meet ‘Tokyo Joe’ Peters, CEO “I Search Worldwide, Japan”: Put Emphasis on “Them Not Self”

  1. Josh Letourneau on April 1st, 2010 1:53 pm

    Very interesting article – Joe, would love to meet you. I was able to hit Tokyo after leaving Hong Kong (‘school trip’ while in B-School) a few years ago. That was my first time there since when I was in the Marines – Roppongi was the place to be in the late 90s’ 🙂 (well, especially if you were early 20s!)

    Most of my search work outside the U.S. has been HK and some of Western Europe, so I like keeping up with other global Recruiters. Just exchanging ideas about the difference in interviewing (from a cultural standpoint) is always stimulating. Many of the HMs I work with are Chinese, and their view of Candidates (after the interview) is often so different than our Western counterparts. (i.e. Confucianism lens vs. Christianity lens, etc.)

    Drop me a line, Joe – jletourneau@OODAfive.com