Teruo Saito: Addressing Legal Challenges With Wisdom & Expertise

Teruo Saito: Addressing Legal Challenges With Wisdom & Expertise

Teruo Saito , Chief Legal & Compliance Officer

Teruo Saito

Chief Legal & Compliance Officer

From ensuring legal and regulatory compliance to managing the legal risks associated with corporate operations, the responsibilities of Chief Legal and Compliance Officers encompass a wide range of matters, as they are tasked with safeguarding the company's interests and reputation. With years of rich in­dustry expertise Teruo Saito, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, CMIC Group, has been playing a key role in negotiating through legal challenges. With a diverse and unique professional background, Teruo Saito has gained extensive experience over 31- year career as a lawyer. Upholding professionalism, ethics, and serving the best interests of his clients remain the core principles of his legal practice. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Teruo Saito also shares his knowledge and expertise as a Business Law professor at Meiji University Law School and Tsukuba University Law School. CEO Insights Asia recently engaged in a one on one interaction with Teruo Saito where he gives brief insights about his leadership style and successful journey. Let’s read.

Please provide a concise overview of your professional background and motivations.

With a career spanning 31 years, I have gained a diverse range of experiences in the legal field. Initially, I worked as a lawyer in private practice for 15 years, handling litigation and bankruptcy cases. Later, I transitioned to become an in-house counsel, where I focused on finance and healthcare. Presently, I hold the position of General Counsel in a healthcare company.

The significance of our business, which aims to enhance people's well-being, fuels my motivation. This awareness drives me to excel in my daily rou­tines as a lawyer. My objective is to contribute to the company's success while ensuring legal compliance and safeguarding its interests.

Combining my background in both private prac­tice and in-house counsel roles, I bring a multi-di­mensional perspective to legal matters. This enables me to effectively address diverse legal issues and provide valuable guidance to clients and organiza­tions. My legal practice is rooted in professionalism, ethics, and unwavering dedication to serving my cli­ents' best interests.

Describe your leadership style and the princi­ples you follow as a leader.

As the leader of a legal team, I focus on conveying the core principles and roles of legal professionals while emphasizing the importance of serving as both business partners and guardians of the busi­ness. Thorough discussions with team members play a significant role in determining the best course of action and ensuring that our legal services align with our shared vision. Open communication, mutu­al respect, and active participation are encouraged to leverage the diverse expertise and perspectives within the team. Clear goals, individual autonomy, and responsibility promote professional growth, ownership, and accountability. Ongoing profession­al development is prioritized to stay informed and prepared for complex legal challenges. Ultimately, my leadership approach fosters a collaborative and supportive environment that upholds the highest standards of professionalism and ethics.

How do you keep yourself up-to-date with ongoing industry trends to steer your organi­zation towards the future?

As a General Counsel, keeping abreast of industry trends is vital for leading the organization into the future. I implement various strategies to stay well-informed about industry developments. Firstly, I actively engage in industry symposiums and conferences, where I network with professionals from the healthcare sector, including pharmaceuti­cal and medical device companies. These events provide valuable insights into emerging trends, in­novations, and regulatory changes impacting the industry.

Secondly, I regularly read industry publications and journals, staying updated on the latest news, industry analyses, and best practices. This enables me to identify potential opportunities or challeng­es that may impact our organization and make in­formed decisions accordingly. Furthermore, I value collaboration and knowl­edge sharing. I organize and participate in study groups and forums with other in-house counsels from pharmaceutical and medical device compa­nies. Through these interactions, we discuss indus­try-specific legal issues, exchange experiences, and

learn from each other's expertise, enabling effective navigation of complex legal landscapes. Drawing from my previous experience as a Gen­eral Counsel in the financial sector, I apply similar methodologies to stay informed on industry trends. This includes attending relevant conferences, en­gaging with industry peers, and staying connected with legal experts in the financial domain. While the context may differ, the underlying principles of staying informed and connected with industry de­velopments remain consistent. By employing these strategies, I ensure that I am equipped with the necessary knowledge and in­sights to guide our organization into the future. Un­derstanding industry trends, emerging regulations, and market dynamics allows me to anticipate chal­lenges, identify opportunities, and provide effective legal counsel aligned with our company's strategic objectives.

Can you share some of the most difficult chal­lenges you have faced in your journey? How did you overcome them and what lessons did you learn from them?

Navigating the divergent opinions between the glob­al general counsel at the headquarters of a foreign company and myself as the general counsel of the Japanese subsidiary proved to be a significant chal­lenge. The variances stemmed from disparities in le­gal systems and cultural norms between Japan and the headquarters' home country. Addressing these situations demanded considerable effort, tact, and ingenuity in effectively explaining and justifying my approach to the headquarters.

To bridge the gap created by distinct legal sys­tems, I often found myself delving into the dissimi­larities between common law and civil law systems. For instance, when dealing with labor issues, I not only had to elucidate disparities in labor laws but also highlight the broader societal and cultural as­pects that shape employment practices in Japan. This involved outlining the challenges associated with employee dismissals in comparison to Western countries. It was imperative to articulate the risks involved, considering not just the legal validity of the action but also the impact on other employees and the overall reputation of the company.

As a general counsel, my responsibilities extend beyond assessing legality; I am also tasked with evaluating risks and taking appropriate actions. Even in cases of employee dismissals, I needed to consider the legal effectiveness of the decision while factoring in the potential impact within the Japa­nese corporate context and the well-being of other employees.

My experiences working at a U.S. law firm, in the legal departments of U.S. companies, and as a corporate auditor for a French company have pro­vided me with a deep understanding of the dispari­ties in legal systems. Moreover, I have recognized the importance of comprehending and effectively communicating these differences, which entails an understanding of societal infrastructure, cultural nuances, and national characteristics.

In My Future Endeavors, I Aim To Make A Positive Impact On Society, Particularly By Working With Young Individuals

What is your future goal or destination?

In my future endeavors, I aim to make a positive im­pact on society, particularly by working with young individuals. Whether it's through business or non-profit organizations, I want to use my experience in corporate management and legal affairs to contrib­ute to the betterment of society for the next gen­eration. Additionally, based on my observations of corporate dynamics and human interactions, I have a desire to create a body of work, including novels and other forms of literature, that reflects my expe­riences and insights.

What advice would you give to aspiring indus­try leaders, considering your extensive experi­ence?

In today's digital era, it is crucial for industry lead­ers to embrace technological advancements. Howev­er, they should also recognize the importance of the 'last one mile' where human involvement becomes essential. I was inspired by the founder of some company I am working for regarding the concept of 'last one mile'. Delivering high-quality services during critical touchpoints is key to standing out. Effective leadership involves valuing human talent, investing in employee development, and fostering a culture of continuous learning. Leaders should be open to feedback and encourage collaboration to drive innovation. My advice to budding industry leaders is to strike a balance between embracing technology and recognizing the value of human ca­pabilities. By investing in people, fostering a culture of continuous learning, and encouraging collabora­tion, they can achieve sustainable success and main­tain a competitive edge.

Teruo Saito, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, CMIC Group

Teruo Saito holds an LL.M. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and is a registered attorney in both Japan and New York. Throughout his career, he has worked at various law firms and held positions as General Counsel at AIG Japan and Anderson Mori & Tomotsune Law Firm. Saito also teaches Business Law at Meiji University Law School and Tsukuba University Law School. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Law from Hitotsubashi University Graduate School and serves as a mediator and committee member in several organizations, including the Bar Association and the Financial Services Agency.

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