Panasonic boss dives to get away

  • Business
  • Saturday, 13 Jan 2007

Breaktime for the CEO is a time to recharge and rejuvenate. He comes back tothe workplace brimming with new ideas and a smile for everyone! Starting today,StarBizfeatures the other facet of the dynamo you see on workdays, but maynot get to know in the weekends. The series appears every fortnight. Today, wefeature Panasonic Malaysia managing director Hiroshi Nakamura

WORK is work, but when it comes to taking a break, Panasonic Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Hiroshi Nakamura knows just where to head to for that perfect getaway.  

“I enjoy my work, but also my life,” said Nakamura, 50, who goes diving when the time comes for that much-needed break in order to recharge and reach peak performance when he gets back to the office. 

Nakamura enjoys the outdoors, being a nature lover, counting the beach, mountains and forests as his favourite getaways. He fell in love with snorkelling as a child and obtained his diving licence when he was a university student in the US in 1988.  

His 18 years of diving have taken him to far-flung places like Hawaii, Saipan, Guam, Bali in Indonesia, Phuket and Koh Samui in Thailand and Okinawa, Japan.  

“The Caribbean islands and Hawaii are great for diving. People enjoy bright, shallow seascapes and shoals of colourful tropical fish rather than deep, serious diving. It's really fun,” Nakamura told StarBiz

Sharing his experiences, Nakamura said he finds Saipan island near Guam as the most “fascinating'' diving spot, with its sea water so clear that once dividing at about 50m deep, he had felt like a foetus in a womb when he saw a small ray of light pierce through the blue cover of the sea. 

He showed pictures of himself in full diving gear during one of his diving trips, looking absolutely elated and energised. 

Nakamura graduated with a law degree from Kyoto University in March 1981, and completed his MBA at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1987. 

Hiroshi Nakamura (second from left) with his Panasonic diving team.

He assumed the position of Panasonic Malaysia MD in April 2005. Before that, he was with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd (MEI) Japan for 26 years and held several key positions at the head office. 

His most valuable working experience was as secretary to MEI executive chairman Datuk Y. Morishita. From there, he was promoted to general manager in the executive office for seven years.  

In 2004, Nakamura was transferred to the MEI's Corporate Overseas Planning Group as group manager till March 31, 2005. 

During his two years in Malaysia, he has made diving trips to popular islands like Redang, Perhentian and Langkawi.  

“Sabah's Sipadan Island would be my next destination, as it is one of the most sought after diving sites worldwide,” said the jovial Nakamura, who tries to dive three or four times a year if his busy schedule permits. 

Next on his list are Taman Negara in Pahang and Mount Kinabalu. 

On weekends, Nakamura attends social events like the opening of Panasonic dealers' shops, business dinners and so on. 

“Basically, there isn't a big difference working in Malaysia or Japan,” he said, adding that although Malaysians and Japanese were very much alike, the differences in their culture and history fascinated him. 

On the topic of local food, Nakamura names bak kut teh (Chinese herbal soup with meat), mee mamak and roti canai among his favourites. 

Sometimes, he would have lunch at the roadside hawker stalls near his office in Petaling Jaya, where Panasonic employees and those from other nearby offices also hang out.  

But being brought up in Japan, he still yearns for Japanese food, which he usually has on weekends. 

As his wife is in Japan, Nakamura cooks whenever he feels like going Japanese. After all, the ingredients are readily available at local supermarkets here. 

“So, no problem for me. I think I am a good cook!” he said with pride. 

Nakamura has nothing but praise for the Japanese restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, saying they serve good food at reasonable prices. 

Back at the office, Nakamura is a boss and a friend to his staff. He believes that a happy working environment motivates employees. 

In 2004, as part of the company's corporate social responsibility, Panasonic Malaysia undertook a project to preserve the environment through ocean cleaning and the replanting of artificial reef. 

As part of the programme, it adopted an area in Perhentian Island for the planting of artificial reef. 

Last year, Nakamura joined the team in revisiting the area to check on the growth of corals on the artificial reef, and also worked with some schools in the village on environment conservation. 

“We had great fun and it was a fulfilling activity for us. We are passionate about ensuring that the underwater ecology is preserved for our future generations as part of our contribution to the society,” he said. 

He believes that such a programme would bring Panasonic top management and staff members closer together. 

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