Q1. What do you think of your own role as an outside Director?
Also, how would you rate the Aichi Steel Board of Directors?
Yasui: As a member of management in the past, I always try to personally visit the front lines of gas supply and sales to see and confirm situations with my own eyes. Even as an outside Director, I think it is important to visit those sites as much as possible to get direct access to the ideas and thoughts of the people working there (although it was mostly not possible this past year because of the pandemic).
Arai: I also try to consider lessons and approaches from my own industry when making recommendations. Vision 2030 sets out many of the same ESG management and action guidelines followed by the aviation industry, so I can introduce or propose any initiatives that might be helpful while actively questioning things from the perspective of another industry.
Yasui: I believe my role is to apply my past experiences and expertise to continually question the Board of Directors, to discuss any concerns I might have, and to provide support at all other times. I feel that the Aichi Steel Board of Directors lets me perform my role and exchange opinions freely across the boundaries of the company.
Arai: In terms of a free exchange of opinions, the Board of Directors sets aside some time before meetings to explain any technical subject that will be discussed, which makes the discussions more meaningful. I am also impressed with the way they make improvements or otherwise address any of our proposals with a sense of urgency.
Q2. How would you rate Aichi Steel’s response to significant changes in the social environment?
Yasui: The entire industry is being severely impacted by the pandemic, so I thought it was quite impressive that the company quickly moved to establish a new business style and showed that they were applying their lessons and discoveries to the future.
Arai: Speaking of rapid response, the company also did well to respond quickly to the CASE trend, including developing the GMPS (Global Magnetic Positioning System), and materials and parts for electric vehicles. The company has a strong awareness of its role in contributing to the SDGs. It is actively applying its technical capabilities, that other companies cannot match, toward the expansion of businesses in new fields like security, medicine, and agriculture.
Yasui: Recently, the hot topic of carbon neutrality has surfaced, representing a major change in the business environment that is an inevitable management risk for Aichi Steel, but they have expressed their determination to tackle this topic through technology development and new market creation. The company has a well-established culture of taking on challenges, so I look forward very much to seeing everyone work together to conquer this new challenge.
Q3. What issues and other important points do you see with Aichi Steel’s medium- to long-term growth strategies?
Yasui: With increasing complexity of initiatives and multi-directional expansion of business fields, I really think Aichi Steel needs to focus on depth and breadth when developing its human resources, including both specialized personnel and personnel with a wider perspective who can provide oversight of the entire company. Because it has a culture of taking on challenges, I expect to see the company overflowing with talent who can achieve self-growth as the company grows within an environment that allows them to continue taking on challenges.
Arai: It is important that the management team and employees share the same vision of what the company should be, and what they want it to be, in the future. I strongly commend Aichi Steel for formulating Vision 2030 and announcing it through a president’s press release. By doing so, they shared the details and the company’s determination among employees, not just outside the company, which has created a stronger unifying force for realizing the vision. I look forward to further efforts by the company to
create safe and secure workplaces, and achieve workstyle reform, that enables all its employees to work happily and with vitality, and to growth together with the company.