Temp Holdings: Meet Japan's First Self-Made Woman Billionaire

Discussion in 'Lobby Japan Club' started by LOBBY.VN, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. LOBBY.VN

    LOBBY.VN Administrator

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    Temp Holdings
    Meet Japan's First Self-Made Woman Billionaire​


    Four decades ago, Yoshiko Shinohara – armed with a high school degree and secretarial experience in two different continents – started a temp-staffing company in her one-bedroom Tokyo apartment. Now, at age 82, she’s become Japan’s first self-made woman billionaire

    She recently retired as chairman of staffing company Temp Holdings, which had revenues of $4.5 billion last year. The Tokyo-listed stock popped 11.5% in the past month – making Shinohara's 25% stake, in addition to dividends accrued over the years, worth just over $1 billion. A spokesperson for Temp Holdings confirmed Shinohara’s shareholding

    Shinohara joins just 26 other self-made women billionaires in Asia, all of whom are from China or Hong Kong. Female entrepreneurs from South Korea and Singapore, for example, have yet to join the elite three comma club

    The journey wasn't easy. Born in 1934, she grew up during World War II. Her father, a school headmaster, died when she was eight years old. Her mother worked as a midwife and raised Shinohara as a single mother, never remarrying again. She graduated from high school and was married briefly in her 20s, but soon divorced. Instead of staying in Japan, she spent time in England and later Australia, working as a secretary

    Eventually she returned to Tokyo, and in 1973 she started a small part-time work agency from her cramped apartment, a 258 square foot one-bedroom. "Education and women working always were in the back of my mind," she told Forbes Asia in 2015. "The importance of women being able to work as well as raise children left an indelible impression." Business was slow at first. and Shinohara had to teach English at night to make ends meet. After five years, the business moved into its first office space

    Shinohara's business addressed an underlying issue in Japanese society, according to Temp Holdings spokeswoman Yoko Somura. Back then, women typically quit working after getting married so "many women of certain age felt ‘uncomfortable’ to continue their careers" and it left women who wanted to continue with few highly skilled job opportunities. "Our company was able to grow by matching Japanese women’s underlying motive," Somura added

    At the beginning, Shinohara only employed women. But then sales started to slow down. "All temps were female in the early days, and our firm’s managers were drawn from the ranks of former temps. Japanese female executives are somewhat different now, but back then, they weren’t always willing to go out and seek new business. They tended to take more of a defensive posture, protecting the company’s gains rather than moving forward. That is not healthy," she told Harvard Business Review in 2009. By the late 1980s, despite her managers' concerns, Shinohara hired more men to balance out the business and sales increased

    During the 1990s – known as Japan's "Lost Decade" of economic stagnation – Temp Holdings took off as companies looked to cut costs by hiring part-time workers instead of salaried employees. In 2008, Temp Holdings went public, listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Within two years, Temp Holdings acquired 4% of U.S.-based staffing company Kelly Services, minting a strategic partnership that expanded in 2012 with a joint venture focused on staffing in China, Hong Kong and South Korea

    Today, Temp Holdings provides recruiting, outsourcing, consulting and systems development. But part-time staffing is its largest segment, accounting for 78% of the $2.4 billion in revenue last quarter. The company has contracts at 27,000 companies in Japan and 13 other countries, including the U.S., China, India and Australia

    Temp Holdings’ footprint in Japan could well grow even more over the next decade. The company’s research arm predicts that Japan's aging population will create big opportunities for the company. It forecasts that Japan's workforce will soon face a 5.83 million person shortfall - and temporary staffing could help fill those gaps as they arise

    Shinohara, who became chairman emeritus in April 2016, never remarried and has no children. In 2014, she gave away about 5% of the company's stock to create the Yoshiko Shinohara Memorial Foundation, which endows scholarships for students studying to become nurses, daycare staff and social workers

    Chloe Sorvino
     
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    This 82-Year-Old Just Became Japan's First Self-Made Woman Billionaire

    Yoshiko Shinohara lost her father at age six, got divorced in her 20s, and never graduated from college. But today, Forbes is reporting, she is Japan's first self-made female billionaire

    In 1973, Shinohara founded TempStaff, a staffing agency, from a one-bedroom apartment in Tokyo. As she told the Financial Times in 2010, this was during an era in Japanese history when many female candidates had to check with their husbands before they could even take a temp job. In this, Shinohara saw an opportunity

    “Society was dominated by men with most women working in assistant roles, and there were few opportunities to actively participate," she said. "It was then I thought I would broaden the workplaces where women could apply their skills, so I launched TempStaff”

    Today, the company that has become Temp Holdings has 313 offices, from Los Angeles to Taiwan. Forbes reports that the publicly traded company had revenues of $4.5 billion last year. With a 25% stake, Forbes says, the recent 12% gain in Temp shares has put Shinohara over the nine-figure mark

    "I say one of my personal traits is that I hate to lose," she told the FT.
    Tempstaff to integrate management with People Staff
    Yoshiko Shinohara

    Shinohara's story is one of textbook entrepreneurial zeal. Temping was mostly illegal when she got the idea for her company, so she lobbied to have the laws changed. She also quickly realized that she wanted to do more with her life than be a housewife

    "Soon after my wedding, I realized that I would rather not be married, that this was not the right person for me," she told the Harvard Business Review in 2009. "So I decided I had better divorce as soon as possible, a decision that my mother and brother were very angry about. After the divorce, I said, 'I have to do something with myself'”

    Two key events helped turn Temp into a global juggernaut. The first was Shinohara's decision to start hiring male managers, which allowed the company to gain more mainstream traction, according to the HBR

    "In 1988, I said, 'How about if we put some men in here?' The [female] managers said, 'No, thank you, we don’t need any of those creatures.' But we did need them. A branch happened to hire a man as a part-timer, and wow, did sales increase!"

    The second, the FT says, was Japan's "lost decade" of economic stagnation in the 1990s. As companies looked to avoid the higher cost of permanent employees, they turned to Temp and its workers.
    This has led Shinohara to describe her leadership style as “hermit-crab management”

    “Born small, the scale of the hermit crab’s shell is appropriate to that stage of its life," she says. "As TempStaff has grown, so have its organizational structures and systems”

    Shinohara never set out to be a billionaire. Instead, she has said, she just wanted to make a mark, through a business that "is needed in the world at large.""I want to contribute to society through business”

    Rob Wile
     

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