President & CEO
In the ever-evolving landscape of business, CEOs are entrusted with the immense responsibility of guiding their organizations to success, often in the face of complex challenges and dynamic market conditions. One such distinguished CEO, Jun Usaka, has carved an impressive trajectory in the education sector both within Japan and across international borders.
With a career spanning 24 years, Jun Usaka's professional journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to the world of education. It began following his graduation from Tohoku University when he embarked on a career at Benesse, Japan's largest education company. Jun's quest for knowledge and international exposure led him to the United States, where he pursued an MBA at the University of Michigan. Upon achieving his MBA, Jun ventured into the global realm, joining Berlitz, a renowned company specializing in language and cross-cultural training. In the corporate strategy department, he honed his strategic acumen, which eventually led to his appointment as Global Director of Berlitz's kids and teens business, operating across 30 countries. Jun's impressive leadership resulted in six consecutive years of revenue growth.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Jun then took the reins as President of Second Language Testing, an educational test development company based in the United States. Under his guidance, the company experienced a remarkable turnaround, with sales more than doubling in just three years.
Jun's journey continued as he assumed the role of a director at Berlitz Japan. Finally, he joined Pathmake Holdings, backed by a private equity fund, as a professional C-suite executive. Throughout his career, Jun has been fueled by a profound passion to expand people's life possibilities through learning, inspired by his transformative experience of studying abroad in the United States and earning an MBA.
In this interaction, we delve into Jun Usaka's remarkable career, exploring his leadership philosophy and vision for the future of education under his leadership as the President and CEO of Pathmake Holdings. Let’s read.
Could you recount your academic journey at Tohoku University and share what you gained from the campus experience beyond just academic knowledge?
Tohoku University provided a remarkable academic environment where dedicated and diligent students congregated. As a student in the Faculty of Arts and Letters, I delved into the history of political philosophy in late 19th century China, culminating in my graduation thesis focused on the political controversies surrounding the establishment of a school for natural sciences. At Tohoku University, the philosophy of 'research first' was a common thread across all faculties, cultivating a mindset of thorough exploration of original texts.
Living independently, I braved the chilly Sendai City winters, occasionally hosting friends for hot pot meals and sake. Interacting with friends possessing diverse knowledge enriched my understanding of various facets of human thought and society.
Define Pathmake Holdings as an organization and its position in the market.
Pathmake Holdings is a global education group with two subsidiary companies, Abitus and TCJ, offering a wide range of learning and career-related services, including international qualification education, MBA degree programs, Japanese language education, and career support. The organization aims to help individuals, both in Japan and overseas, achieve their career aspirations by assisting them throughout their lives in acquiring and utilizing the skills and knowledge they need.
As the President & CEO, what are the factors you take into account when developing effective corporate growth strategies?
As the President & CEO, the key factors I consider when formulating effective corporate growth strategies include a thorough understanding of evolving market dynamics and strategic investments in response to these changes. Globally, the shift brought about by Digital Transformation (DX) and Green Transformation (GX) is altering the nature of work and the skills required. The Japanese government is actively investing in reskilling, mandating human capital disclosure by companies, and providing subsidies for human capital development and training. Furthermore, with the post-pandemic era, the influx of international students studying Japanese in Japan is expected to rise.
Pathmake Group's growth strategy revolves around proactive investments in the expanding market opportunities for upskilling working adults and enhancing international mobility. In addition to addressing these educational needs, we aim to invest in career support services, particularly in light of the changing dynamics in Japan where traditional seniority and lifetime employment systems are waning, and workforce mobility is on the rise. This shift is viewed as an opportunity to foster career support as a key growth area.
At Pathmake Group, we nurture individuals through 'learning support,' gaining deep insights into people's needs during the learning process and utilizing this personal information to satisfy both job seekers and recruiting companies. Our growth strategy entails establishing a distinctive business model that offers comprehensive support, encompassing everything from learning to job matching.
What is the future destination you are headed for?
Pathmake Group is on a path toward an exciting future. Backed by an investment from Japan's oldest private equity fund, the company is planning a strategic exit in the near future. The primary goal is to transform into a corporate group that is not only financially appealing but also recognized for its unique business model, dedicated to addressing societal challenges through its operations. The aim is to exceed customer expectations by offering products and services that provide exceptional value in an ever-changing social landscape.
Pathmake Group aspires to expand internationally, providing valuable solutions to customers worldwide, regardless of their location, and contributing to addressing the challenges and concerns that resonate globally.
Given your extensive professional background, what guidance would you offer to emerging industry leaders?
In an era where the societal role of companies is under scrutiny, it becomes imperative for corporate leaders to not merely prioritize profit maximization but also to ensure that all stakeholders comprehend the underlying purpose of their business endeavors.
My aspiration is to foster a group management approach in which the team members I collaborate with grasp the company's raison d'etre – its fundamental reason for existence. Subsequently, decisions and operations should be guided by the distinct mission, vision, and values of each group company. Our unwavering commitment is to persistently pursue this objective.
Jun Usaka, President & CEO, Pathmake Holdings
With a career spanning 24 years, Jun Usaka's professional journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to the world of education.