Live Locally, Grow Globally

Introduction to Osaka University

A Conversation Between Society and University: Changing Society through Collaboration Between Business and University - Creating New Worth and Diverse Knowledge

 

Vision and Creativity: Characteristics of Osaka University 

NISHIO  It's very nice to meet you, thank you for coming today. Ms. Takeuchi, you're a graduate of the School of Human Studies. What was your student life like?

TAKEUCHI  It's very nice to meet you, too. I'm a bit nervous to be having a conversation with the president himself. At the School of Human Sciences, I majored in anthropology, which allowed me to learn and experience many new things in those 4 years. I also experienced different cultures through a homestay in Sydney, Australia as well as a pilgrimage to Chartres Cathedral in France. I enjoyed meeting with people and hearing their stories through my field work, and I feel as though those experiences are also connected to my current work. The School of Human Sciences is a multidisciplinary school, and I was inspired by my classmates, who came from all kinds of backgrounds and had many unique ideas.

NISHIO  The School of Human Sciences was established in 1972, which makes it a relatively new school. At the time of its establishment, it gathered attention for being a school unlike any other found in Japanese universities due to its interdisciplinary nature. Vision and creativity are major characteristics of Osaka University since its establishment. When students at Osaka University become interested in the topics of their professors and teachers, they are quite active in working together and realizing this desire to learn. I really like that about the atmosphere at Osaka University. So, Ms. Takeuchi, what led you to start your business?

What can businesses and the university do for society?

TAKEUCHI  After I graduated, I worked at a convention planning company for a short time, and after 4 years, I founded Congress Corporation with some peers in 1990. Since we were a young group of around 40 individuals mainly in our 20s and 30s, it gathered quite some attention in the field at the time. When we started the company, we had 3 business principles: "Do Good Work," "Contribute to Society," "Be Energetic Employees." We thought that we would make work at the company worth doing through controlling the organization ourselves. But since we left all of our current work at our former companies, it was a fresh new start. We were all grateful for those individuals who believed in us enough to request our work, but we were also nervous in that we couldn't let them down. This independence really brought home just how protected I truly had been, and I feel that this allowed me to become able to objectively view my own standpoint.

NISHIO  After hearing your business principles, I feel as though companies are "society's public institution." Currently, Japanese society faces a stalemate in terms of progress. Thinking about what companies and universities can do to contribute to society is important for a capitalist society. When companies and universities work together, mutual trust is important, especially interpersonal relationships. I myself have been involved in the planning and management of many international conferences, but I've always made requests based not on company names, but rather trustworthy individuals with whom I would want to work.

TAKEUCHI  While I personally feel that it's important to cultivate employees that have that kind of trust and achievement, I also feel that, as a company and an organization, there is a need to establish a system not simply for achievements, but rather one that will gain the trust of the client and the company as a whole, which includes fulfilling the client's needs.

A new sprout born from industry-university collaboration

NISHIO  The larger organizations become, the more necessary it is to cultivate human resources systematically. Even at national universities, as budget allocation such as management expenses grants become more severe, I feel that collaboration with the industrial realm is important not only in one's field of study, but also in human resource development. At universities, there are faculty members who are involved in world-leading research, but they cannot teach knowledge like the kind you would obtain working in a company. For example, if we're talking about the realm of conventions, even if your convention is run perfectly and on time, there may be some unforeseeable circumstances. Thus, it is necessary for human resources to have the skills to be able to effectively control the emergency situation, and accurately decide what should take precedence. The ability to overcome dangerous situations in the real world is quite versatile, making it useful in various fields. The same goes for university management, and I would like to recruit instructors from companies and further strengthen human resource development in related fields. It'd be great to have you come and be an instructor for us as well, Ms. Takeuchi (laughs).

TAKEUCHI  At Osaka University, I've been involved in planning and management mainly of conferences in the medical field. Now, as the connection between companies and universities has taken the spotlight, I feel that there are large movements in university-industry collaboration in various fields. I'd like to be involved in not only planning and management of historical conventions, but also use the connections and knowledge I've built through conventions and create opportunities for people to connect by various approaches and points of view with the convention as an interface. While we're still a bit lacking, our work is in a societal position in which we can take those kinds of challenges. In 2013, we established first privately run convention center, "Knowledge Capital Congress Convention Center" at Grand Front Osaka. I hope that we can help those who utilize the Center to find sprouts of industry-community collaboration in a wide variety of fields.

Establishing the "5 Opens" and opening up the university

NISHIO  Osaka University is a university that was established by the strong backing of the prefecture, the citizens, and political business circles within Osaka. Its origins can be found in the Kaitokudo and Tekijuku of the Edo Period. So it is for this reason that I would like to emphasize university-industry collaboration as well as university-community collaboration. We'll continue to further develop activity that deeply collaborates with society, such as communicating and explaining to citizens about the world-leading knowledge and research results here at the university. As a hub for academic and research, the university has been relatively closed off with regards to connections with the community. I'm working on a "5 Opens" policy with the aim of turning Osaka University into an Open University. These "5 Opens" are "Open Education," "Open Science," Open Community," "Open Governance," and "Open Innovation," which is based on the other 4. On the axis of this "Openness," in anticipation of the coming 90th anniversary of its founding in 2021, Osaka University strives to be an outstanding place of research that pursues the true essence of academia, while also being a "world-leading comprehensive research university" that takes on public issues and provides innovation to society.

Toward a society that supports the careers of women

TAKEUCHI  In 1985, the year that I officially became an adult, the Equal Employment Opportunity law was enacted. Luckily for me, I never personally felt the "glass ceiling" (an invisible barrier that prevents the advancement of women). Promotion of the activity of women is just one of the meanings included in the management philosophy of Congress, namely "creating a group of lively employees." Currently, our employees are split evenly between men and women, and there is no distinction between them. I was once told by a female manager that there is actually an age after which women cannot advance. While there are hurdles such as childbirth and childcare, in the unwillingness of women to take management positions, I feel that there is a tendency for women to become complacent with their current situation and not challenge themselves. I want to show the enjoyment of advancement to the younger generation, in order for them to be able to face the various chances and positions they will be presented with, rather than stop themselves.

NISHIO  In the Global Gender Gap Report 2015 published by the World Economic Forum, Japan among the lowest ranked countries on the list, at 101 of 145. Osaka University is also lagging behind with regards to gender equality. But the slumping Japanese economy is now at a turning point, and I believe that whether or not this will lead to a revival in the economy hinges on the success of women. There are a lot of women who receive excellent grades in junior high school, high school, and all through college, but after starting at their positions, being involved in things like childbirth and childcare make them unable to maintain power in their work. Even at Osaka University, a huge challenge is figuring out how to overcome this, and how to support female faculty (researchers) and staff members in getting to that next step. We're currently making efforts to increase the number of female faculty members at Osaka University. The number of female students here is quite high, and it's increasing every year. We'd like to create a positive environment with female professors to inspire female students and encourage them to advance to graduate school and become faculty members. We're currently discussing the creation of opportunities for women including somewhat drastic methods, ones dedicated to gender equality, such as establishing administrative organizations, providing posts, and taking budgetary provisions.

Developing Human Resources that "Live Locally, Grow Globally"

TAKEUCHI  When it comes to human resource development that includes women, as far as I'm concerned, even before considering what kind of human resources I'll develop, I want a lot of people to come to the industry. The convention industry is one that is still not well known by the general public. I really want to show the appeal of being a "Professional Congress Organizer (PCO)" during our conversation (laughs). In this industry, an important skill is communication ability. Understanding different fields and cultures, and drawing out the intent of the organizer. Furthermore, by experiencing difficult situations in each task, one can gradually grow and become able to cope with an emergency.

NISHIO   I want to cultivate "glocal" human resources, regardless of gender. "Glocal" is made up the two words "global" and "local," and it is plainly expressed in Osaka University's motto of "Live Locally, Grow Globally." Glocal human resources can blend in and gain the trust of the people of the area while also having an international field of view and the ability to thrive on the world stage; those are the kinds of young people I want to raise. For this purpose, there are 4 standards for education at Osaka University: critical thinking, design prowess, transcultural communicability, and communication ability. I feel that transcultural communicability and communication ability are fairly self-explanatory, but critical thinking is the ability to look at something from various multifaceted approaches. And design prowess is the ability to derive the best actions for a situation under the conditions given and design an optimal solution. What is necessary in businesses nowadays is not "how to do" but "what to do." Instead of merely thinking of the way of doing something, I feel that being able to recognize what kind of problems must first be considered is important.

Coming into Bloom while fulfilling social obligations

TAKEUCHI  Changes in society are quite harsh and occur at a rapid pace, changing not only the environment around us, but the convention business as well. In the past, our focus was on commissioned business, but I'm considering starting in a direction in which we are more active in society with our own projects, which connect various people and fields. Regarding the establishment of our convention center at Grand Front Osaka, we have not only business chances associated with the establishment of the physical infrastructure, but also responsibilities as a member of the Grand Front Osaka community. I'd like to collaborate with Osaka University, my alma mater, and fulfill my social obligations, while working together with everyone step-by-step in order to blossom as a business as well. Through this, I hope that our employees will feel a sense of accomplishment, and that it will lead to success for women. I will endeavor to take the suggestions that you have given me during this discussion and apply them to my work. Thank you very much.

NISHIO  After have this discussion with you, I've become aware that the convention business is not simply planning and running international conferences, but rather, it's work that vitalizes meetings between people, changes society, and brings about innovation through the creation of prosperity through community development and revitalization of the area. You've put in hard work to become the top domestic market share-holder in the 25 years since you began the business in 1990. I could not be happier that a graduate from OU has had such remarkable success. As president, I hope that through industry-university and community-university collaboration, we could see a second or even third graduate from OU achieve the level of success that you have worked so hard for. I hope for your continued success in the future as a role model for the female students at OU.

Thank you so much for coming today.


• Noriko TAKEUCHI

Ms. Takeuchi graduate from the School of Human Sciences at Osaka University in 1986. After working in a convention project management company, she participated in the founding of Congress Corporation in 1990. In 2001 she became the director of the marketing and sales promotion department, and after serving representative executive director and executive director, she became president of Congress in June 2013. She serves as the representative director for Japan Convention Management Association, an organizer for the Conference for the Promotion of a Tourism-Oriented Nation, a member of the Cultural Policy Division, Agency of Cultural Affairs, and a member of the Osaka Prefectural Research Review Committee on the Promotion of Improving the Environment for Accepting Tourists.

• Shojiro NISHIO

Born in 1951, President Shojiro NISHIO graduating from the Kyoto University Faculty of Engineering in 1975 obtained his doctorate degree in engineering from the Graduate School at Kyoto University in 1980. After serving as an assistant at the Kyoto University Faculty of Engineering, a visiting assistant professor at University of Waterloo, Canada, an assistant professor at the Osaka University School of Engineering Sciences, an assistant professor at the Osaka University Information Processing Training Center, he became a professor at the Osaka University School of Engineering in 1992. After that, he became the first director at the Osaka University Cybermedia Center. Prior to assuming his post as President in August 2015, he served a number of positions such as a professor and dean at the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, an advisor to the Osaka University President, an executive vice president of Osaka University (2007~2011), and a director at Osaka University Cybermedia Center in 2013. President Nishio specializes in data engineering.

Back to top