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Headhunter goes global




If Yohei Shibasaki hadn’t previously worked for Sony Corp., the giant that once dominated the global electronics industry, his 7-year-old human resources firm might not have grown so fast.

“Don’t just look at the Japanese market, but always target the global market. Offer innovative products that others have never created before. And the feeling of ‘Wow!’ is very important. Those are the things I learned from Sony,” said Shibasaki, CEO and founder of Fourth Valley Concierge Corp.

Shibasaki brought much of what he learned during nearly a decade at the electronics giant to Fourth Valley when he set it up in 2007.

“What it means is that we must offer something exciting on a global scale, and be the first in the world to do it,” he said.

Every year, Fourth Valley Concierge representatives visit emerging countries like Russia, India, Myanmar and the other ASEAN nations to hold job fairs and conduct interviews with nearly 3,000 new graduates from top universities. Based on those interviews, it creates a database and introduces talented young blood to client companies based on their needs.

Shibasaki, 39, said that in today’s increasingly globalized world, more students are studying abroad but few are actually crossing borders to get a job, due partly to the difficulty in obtaining a working visa.

“I want to help increase the mobility of young talented people. I want them to find the best working place in the world where they can shine,” Shibasaki said in a recent interview with The Japan Times.

He thinks this concept has great potential because of the rapid population decline taking place in some countries, notably Japan and China. These two regional giants are projected to face labor shortages in the not-so-distant future.

Fourth Valley’s main clients have so far been Japanese firms looking to hire talented individuals from overseas, including a major IT firm and a globally active trading house.

When he was at Sony marketing and selling cameras for use in mobile phones, he met business executives from the world’s top 20 handset makers, including Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and LG. It was these frequent encounters with highly skilled young people that made him realize how much Japan was lacking such talented professionals.

Although global human resources companies like Manpower and Adecco have already established networks around the world, many of them mainly cater to local markets, Shibasaki said. Their Tokyo offices introduce people to companies based in Japan, he said.

Fourth Valley, on the other hand, has a unique business plan that has allowed it to establish a network with top universities, meet the students in person, evaluate them and introduce the best candidates to its clients.

Fourth Valley later found that what its clients value most is this screening process, which is carried out by employees based in eight countries, he said.

“The process is time-consuming and tough, but that makes us unique,” said Shibasaki, who was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the Young Global Leaders of 2013. The title is given to young leaders who commit their time and talent to making the world a better place.

The company has accumulated data on nearly 100,000 top students from some 100 countries. Its goal is to amass a database of about 300,000 students by the end of the year and 1 million in three years.

But, like many ventures, Fourth Valley’s first two years were not easy. Although it didn’t suffer financially, the company did everything it could to earn money, including translation and helping travel agencies conduct questionnaires and distribute leaflets. And since it started out with only himself, another founding member and about 10 student part-timers, they had to work long hours and sometimes missed the last train home, forcing them to sleep at the office, the former Sophia University football player said.

But thanks to their diligence and hard work, Fourth Valley has reported an operating profit for five consecutive business years.

It is now targeting nearly ¥1 billion in sales for the current year, compared with just ¥7 million in its first year, Shibasaki said.

Now the company is drawing up plans to extend its human resourcing efforts from students to experts in different industries and fields worldwide.

Over the next two years, the company hopes to compile a database of experts in various fields, including sushi chefs, pilots, IT engineers and artists, so people with special high-end skills can land jobs all around the world.

In doing so, the company will ask leading figures in each field to become evaluators of young talent.

“It is like the Michelin Guide of human resources. If you want to create a database for sushi chefs, you will ask a top sushi chef in Japan to become an evaluator,” Shibasaki said. “If you wanted to discover talented young baseball players, you would visit the Dominican Republic and other South American countries with a leading baseball player such as Ichiro to evaluate potential candidates.”

The company will also start scholarships for university and high school students in 13 emerging countries in ASEAN and South Asia. Its programs will be supported by corporate sponsors.

Unlike other Japanese scholarship programs, which focus on bringing foreign students to Japanese universities, Fourth Valley wants its program to help students attend their own local universities.

For example, in Myanmar, tuition costs about $100 a year. So if a sponsor company chips in ¥5 million, it will be able to help 500 high school students get a college education, according to Shibasaki.

Sponsors can also support a program that offers 10 selected university students a chance to take a 14-day educational trip to Japan.

Since Fourth Valley is responsible for running the programs, it charges Japanese companies ¥5 million administrative fee each year. In return, Fourth Valley will save the students’ information and allow sponsors to access it after providing them scholarships.

This allows the sponsoring firms to benefit by improving their images and profiles in emerging economies, Shibasaki said.

“One of our biggest missions is to support young talent in emerging countries and give them opportunities to challenge in the global market,” he said. “I think our model is somewhat unique as we are not an NPO, NGO or volunteer group. But while making a social contribution, we can also expand our business.”

Significant events in Shibasaki’s life

1980 — Moves to England with his family
1982 — Returns to Japan
1998 — Graduates from Sophia University; joins Sony Corp.
2007 — Quits Sony to found Fourth Valley Concierge
2013 — Named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum; becomes lecturer at alma mater

“Generational Change” is a new series of interviews appearing on the first Monday of each month, profiling people in various fields who are taking a leading role in bringing about change in society. Readers are encouraged to send ideas, questions and opinions to .


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StructureFlow’s accelerated 2020 growth sees expansion of international operations, customer base and new hires




StructureFlow’s accelerated 2020 growth sees expansion of international operations, customer base and new hires
StructureFlow, a legal tech start-up helping lawyers and finance professionals quickly and easily visualise complex legal structures and transactions, announces two hires to its senior leadership team and continued expansion of its international operations and customer roster. The start-up is also currently participating in Allen & Overy’s ‘Fuse’ Incubator and Founders Factory’s 6-month FinTech accelerator programme as part of its growth strategy.

Founded by former corporate lawyer Tim Follett, StructureFlow is a cloud-based software that was developed to address the difficulties and inefficiencies he faced when trying to visualise complex legal structures and transactions using tools that were not up to the task. The start-up was formally launched earlier this year at a time when many firms were, and continue to be, heavily focused on finding new technologies that enable efficient collaborative working.

Global growth and expanding beyond the legal industry

StructureFlow opened its first international office outside of the UK in Singapore earlier this year and has been running successful pilots of its visualisation software with prestigious international law firms. In addition to the growing customer base in the UK – the company is expanding internationally and is excited to announce that it will be onboarding customers in India, Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada in the next month.

With the belief that accounting teams, investment banks, private equity firms and venture capital firms will also benefit from access to StructureFlow’s visual structuring tool, the start-up has begun venturing beyond its legal customer base working with a small number of asset management and private fund businesses. This includes M7 Real Estate, a leading specialist in pan-European, multi-tenanted commercial real estate investment and asset management operations.

“We decided to expand internationally despite the pandemic as there is a heightened need for new technologies to support global organisations who are restructuring business models to adapt to the ‘new normal’,” said Alex Baker, Head of Growth. “Our product helps law firms and other financial institutions to work securely whilst working from anywhere and our growing Singapore operations will allow us to better serve our customers in Asia Pacific.”


New hires join the senior leadership team

Jean-Paul de Jong joins StructureFlow as its Chief Technology Officer and Chief Security Officer along with Owen Oliveras its Head of Product.

With a background in enterprise software development, information security and a track record of many successful large-scale integrations, De Jong has held several prominent positions within regulated industries in both private and public sectors.

Oliver is a co-founder of Workshare Transact, the legal transaction management application that was acquired by Litera in 2019, having been previously a corporate lawyer with Fieldfisher.

Together, they bring decades of legal and technology leadership and expertise to expedite StructureFlow’s product development and will be instrumental in developing the software to meet the demands of the company’s broadening customer base.

Tim Follett, CEO of StructureFlow, commented on these developments, “The decision to further expand our presence across the legal and financial technology markets in Europe, Asia and North America is a logical step in our business growth strategy. The addition of Jean-Paul de Jong and Owen Oliver will bring first-class engineering, security and product expertise to our team, bolstering our ability to build and scale innovative enterprise products.”

Accelerator programmes to complement growth strategy

In a move to broaden its global presence and increase the impact of its product, StructureFlow has joined two reputable accelerator programmes this year. Following the company’s success as the inaugural winner of Slaughter and May’s Collaborate programme, StructureFlow has subsequently joined the fourth cohort of Fuse, Allen & Overy’s flagship legal tech incubator.
More recently, the team has partnered with Founders Factory, joining its FinTech accelerator programme giving StructureFlow unparalleled access to the programme’s corporate partners. The programme also includes mentorship supporting the company’s growth and impact of its product across the legal, financial services and other key sectors.

“Being accepted into two industry-acclaimed incubator and accelerator programmes is a crucial part of our expansion plans and will provide us with expert guidance to further develop our visualisation software. By utilising the expertise of industry experts, we expedite our plan of becoming a global platform for a range of organisations and stakeholders to visually engage with essential corporate information,” Follett added.


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The most underrated aspects of every online bookmaker




Thanks to the internet boom, we can bet on our favorite sports without leaving our homes. In fact, we can also do it from our handheld devices, which is even more convenient. Most people love the fact they have access to tons of sports and bonuses, but they also forget that there are other important things.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the most underrated aspects of every online bookmaker. Those are things that people pay little to no attention, despite being really important. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but the vast majority of bettors fall into this category.

The customer support quality

The first aspect of every bookie that most people never check out is the quality of the customer support team. Some of them think that they will never need to use it, whereas others just don’t care.

While it’s true that there are more important things you need to take into account, the customer support service should also be on your list. Just imagine a situation in which you have a problem with your account, and you don’t have anyone to ask for help. In order to avoid these scenarios, make sure that the operator you choose has a good customer support service. Sadly, there are only a few betting websites that offer high-quality support services, such as Betway and a few other big names.

The terms and conditions of some bonuses

It might be hard to believe, but there are many people who don’t even try reading the T&C of the bonuses. Most of the promos out there usually have a catchy title that indicates how much bonus cash you can get. As a result, some bettors immediately decide to take advantage of it without reading the rules.

Needless to say, there are many things that can go wrong in this situation, so always read the T&C, regardless of the offer you choose. If you pick a legit online bookie, you will probably need just a few minutes to read the full conditions. Feel free to check out this Betway promotion if you are looking for a bonus, whose conditions are easy to understand.

Security features

The next thing that some bettors don’t even bother checking out is the security features. While it’s true that betting online is really convenient, it can also be dangerous because there are many people out there who will do everything in their power to get access to your banking information.

As a result, some of the most prominent gambling companies have implemented various security features. Nevertheless, only a handful of bettors actually pay attention to these features and how they work. Most people either don’t care or they just assume that the bookie will protect them. Sadly, this is not always the case, especially if you decide to open an account on some betting websites.

There are loads of available security features, such as an SSL certificate, different encryption tools, and more.

The lack of a mobile app/website

Let’s face it, most bettors around the world are playing from their handheld devices. Despite the fact that bookmakers have good desktop websites, most of us just don’t have the time to visit them.

Unless your job requires us to stay in front of a computer, we’re always on the go, which means that we don’t have any other option to use apart from a mobile app or a mobile website. Naturally, every prominent online bookmaker tries to come up with either of these two things so that more people can access it.

Sadly, there are still some bettors who decide to open an account and deposit a lot of money from their computers, only to realize that the particular operator doesn’t have any mobile services. If you don’t want to end up in a similar situation, make sure you take a good look at everything before you sign up. You can even contact customer support if you can’t find anything.

A surprisingly fast sign-up process

Regardless of which bookmaker you choose, you will have to open an account in order to place bets on sports. In some cases, this process can take a few minutes, which could get annoying, especially when you have to go through the T&C.

However, there are gambling operators where you can open an account in just a matter of seconds. This is usually great because you won’t have to waste time. That said, there are cases where you can sign up just by providing an email and nothing else.

Although this might seem fantastic at first, it should ring a bell that something might be wrong. So, unless you don’t want to regret your decision later, make sure you check out your account settings once you log into it to see if you can provide additional information about yourself. This is an important process that many bettors don’t pay attention to. At first, it might not seem like a big deal, but once it’s time to withdraw your winnings, you could have problems.

FAQ section

The last thing that hardly anyone pays attention to is the FAQ section. This is more or less related to the customer support department, but we’ve decided to point it out in a separate category because it deserves more attention.

The FAQ section is the place where you can find answers to questions that most people ask. In most cases, these questions involve any potential account/bonus issues, but they could also include information about the payment methods.

The reason why this place is important is due to the fact it’s a huge timesaver. Instead of having to talk to someone about your issue and wait for a response, you can quickly take a look at the FAQs and find your answer.

Fortunately for us, almost all top online bookmakers have a decent FAQ category, so there is a pretty high chance you’ll have access to it even if you haven’t noticed yet.


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How can companies manage a fragmented workforce during this winter of upheaval?




Wales is going into a ‘firebreak’ lockdown from Friday[i]. Other areas of the UK are in different tiers of the new Covid tier system, with several northern regions now living under the most severe restrictions of tier 3. Adrian Lewis, director at Active Absence, says as the situation is continually evolving, employers will find the next few months hugely challenging.

Adrian says, “While the government’s advice is for people to work from home where possible, the reality is that many work in roles not designed for remote working, some will be isolating and there are different restrictions in regions across Britain – making it exceptionally difficult to manage people and keep track of where they are working.”

“Another complication is that someone might be in one tier at work and another at home. Others could find themselves suddenly having to self-isolate as the increased use of the NHS track and trace will start to pick up more people who may have been in close contact with someone with Covid.

“During the first lockdown in March employers embraced remote working and many implemented polices and procedures to ensure this went as smoothly as possible. As the UK faces a winter of upheaval and varying restrictions, it’s more important than ever for employers to have robust systems in place to keep track of staff.”

Employers also have the ongoing challenge of supporting employee health and mental wellbeing. New research from the University of Glasgow[ii] amongst 3000 people revealed the first lockdown had a major impact on the UK’s mental health. One in four people said they have experienced at least moderate levels of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts increased from 8% to 10%, and this was particularly prevalent amongst young adults (18-29 years), rising from 12.5% to 14%.

Adrian says, “Winter can affect people’s mental wellbeing in a normal year but add to the mix the impact of the pandemic and several more months of restrictions or lockdowns and some employees will really struggle and will need more support from their employers.”

“We recommend employers invest in absence management technology to track where staff are working and to gain a complete overview of which staff are working, those off sick or on holiday and those who might be self-isolating due to Covid, all of which can all be managed remotely in the cloud.”

“This technology can also help employers manage people’s mental wellbeing as they are able to track absence and see if any patterns emerge, such as having a lot of time off or always off on a Monday. They can then contact that member of staff to find out if they need extra support.

“As work become increasingly fragmented it’s for businesses to have real-time visibility over their employees to ensure the business can run as close to normal as possible and staff are supported even if they aren’t physically in the office.”

For more information on absence management software visit:




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