Name :Ken Matsumura
Position :Managing Director FORVAL Myanmar
MI: Please tell our readers about your background.
I started my business career fourteen years in one of the big Japanese city banks. I worked in New York for two years and half. Next, I had worked at GE (General Electric) for five years. And then I jumped into AIG General Insurance. Afterwards, I had worked as one of directors at McDonald in Japan. Later, I worked as an Integration Manager of forklift manufacturing company which was a merger between Nissan and Hitachi group, now acquired by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry. Finally, I am in Forval Corporation. Since last year April, I took an assignment as Managing Director of Forval Myanmar.
MI: When was your first visit to Myanmar?
My first visit to Myanmar was in March 2014.
MI:What was your first impression of the country then?
At that moment, of course, Myanmar is under progressing and left behind comparing with Thailand, Malaysia and other SouthEast Asian Countries. It was dry season before Thingyan and very hot in Myanmar. But I met warm, kind-hearted people and felt something in my heart. I joined the meditation during the period of Thingyan. It was very good experience for me. Moreover, this was first time for me to wear a longyi.
MI: Please explain to our readers about Forval Corporation.
Forval Myanmar is one of subsidiaries of Forval Corporation. Forval Corporation operates many kinds of business but the main business in Japan is IT consulting for SME companies. Additionally, Forval Corporation is listed in Tokyo Stock Exchange Market I. It also has operations in four countries including Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar. In Vietnam, we have two branches, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Min city. In Cambodia all over the places, we have people focus services; recruiting services, IT supporting services as well as training services. In Indonesia, we have a rental factory services.
The provision of one-stop solution and service for SMEs to invest into foreign countries is our mission. We are, currently, being consulted by Japanese investors for investments in Myanmar economic zones.
We have a couple of other business lines such as investment consultancy services, recruitment services, training services and IT consultancy services. Fundamentally, we have four business lines in four countries.
MI: What are the current projects that your team has been working?
Consulting or revitalizing of the local companies through the practical coaching. Cooperation with local companies, many foreign companies coming into Myanmar. I would like to propose to local companies to brush up their employees’ skill and will. We can provide practical coaching service with skill or knowledge for technology and will for motivation to the local companies. That is the main project that we have been working. Of course, not only for the local company but also for Japanese companies, we provide services such as establishing joint venture, establishing company portfolio and then acquisition advice for Japanese investors. In all of that, employees matters are really critical. We can provide practical coaching program for them.
MI: What are the future plans of Forval?
Mainly we expand aggressively providing consulting service to local companies by giving them practical programs. Forval is penetrating in to the IT services area also. Furthermore in the future, we would like to expand business into recruiting specialized IT interns, when it becomes available for foreign companies or foreign investments. And then they can work as an IT manager not only in Myanmar but also in Japan. First, they can work in Japan. And when he/ she comes back from Japan, he/she can also work at local company. That is really helpful for society and that is the future value of Forval.
MI: How different working here in Myanmar compared to other countries?
This is a tough question. Infrastructure such as water and electricity are really not good in Myanmar. Another thing is we have met a lot of capable people who studied or worked in foreign countries. Some family can pay for higher education at foreign countries such as England, USA, and Singapore. Gradually, they are coming back for future opportunities to grow up since Myanmar economy has opened. There is so many gap between local sense and overseas sense. Even though they are all Myanmar, they are really different. Probably, this is strange feeling compared to other countries. Most of companies also notice the gaps between oversea-trained people and local peoples.
MI: What sort of difficulties did you face while working for the first time in the country?
Regarding the communication with Myanmar people, general speaking, they never say “no”, always “YES”. Actually, it is not “Yes”. They just do not want to say “no”. They look like “they understand it and there are no more questions”. In reality, they do not know and they do not understand what I am saying. They said “Yes” “I understand it” or “I will do it”. But they do not understand hundred percent. There are so much difficulties to communicate with people. Otherwise, probably, good thing is once we have communication with top position such as Managing Director of the company or high level of person from government organization, they are very reliable and can communicate quickly. They are utilizing phone and short message service so much. I was so surprised.
There are so many rules to be improved such as procedures, concepts, registrations and taxes.
Many governmental offices have so many documentations and they need un-documentation.
MI: What are the long term objectives of Forval in Myanmar?
Not only for Japanese investors but also to contribute toward local companies, we have programs such as internship training program, recruiting services as well as infrastructure by team. Japanese companies are penetrating here. We would like the people of Myanmar, not only in Yangon, to know our brand “Forval Myanmar” as reliable consultancy company. Client can rely on us and reorganization or revitalizing of the organization supported by us. Regarding the brand image, I would like to establish as a reliable and practical consultancy.
MI: How is Forval’s practical consultancy different from others?
Most of the trainings are, on the desk, one way training. They use teacher centered approach. Teacher teaches students how to do it through talking and students note it down on paper.
Forval consultancy is really practical and totally different from other training. It focuses on motivation, communication and behavior changing. With teacher’s demonstration, attendees will feel “ I can do it” and finally, they will do it by themselves. That is totally different from others.
MI:What is your opinion on Myanmar’s human resource sector?
I think most Myanmar people are keen on or interested in their children’s education. But overall, not all people can afford to pay for education. They are missing the opportunity to let the children be educated. That’s not good. Many people should be trained from the early stage. As a matter of fact, international school fees are really expensive. So there is a lot of gaps for human resources sector. Many people should be educated in home country from the early stage. So that human resources sector can dramatically change and move up to other global company level.
People are clever and bright. Originally, their brain cell is good one and brain IQ is quite high. They are quite left behind just because of the lack of opportunities in the education. Most of the Myanmar people I have contacted or interviewed so far are enthusiastic to learn.
MI: If you could make one major change to any government policy, what would it be?
Government should really focus on long term education. Education is really important for future generation of Myanmar. Infrastructure is also important for Myanmar. Inviting foreign companies to Myanmar is forte but Government may not be able to open up rapidly by learning from other countries. Win-Win-Win strategy is the best, country win, people win and investors win. Win-Win-Lose strategy is not good in long term. Probably, foreign companies invading, occupying and controlling everything may not be good for local people. That is really an important policy. Myanmar people especially children should get the opportunities to be educated.
MI: How are you enjoying your life here in Myanmar?
Regarding personal feeling, everybody is very kind and warm. Meditation is one of the things I like. Progress in the country and safety of the city is also very nice. There are still many clean and naturally beautiful places
When I went to the Inlay Lake last week, I noticed one thing. Artificial things are invading the lake. Many hotels are being built up. Gradually, Inlay Lake is changing and losing the traditional beauties. I enjoyed the life here with Buddhism, touching with humanity and beauty of country which we Japanese might have already lost through money capitalism.