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Selecting the Head of Operations

Assume you are the top HR manager for a large international firm. The head of your company's operation in Japan has just resigned unexpectedly to take a job with another firm. You must decide on a replacement as quickly as possible. You have developed the following list of potential candidates for the job.

Jack Henderson: Henderson is a senior vice president based in your Chicago headquarters. Jack has a long and distinguished career with your firm, is well regarded by everyone, and plans to retire in three years. He has never worked outside the United States but is strongly and visibly lobbying for the job in Japan. Because you and your spouse socialize with Jack and his wife outside of work, you know she does not want to move from Chicago.

Takeo Takahashi: Takahashi is the number two manager in your Japanese operation, although he has served in that role for only three months. He was born and raised in Japan. After attending college in the United States, he returned to Japan and went to work for your firm. Takeo is considered an emerging star in the company but is also relatively young and inexperienced. Your CEO prefers to appoint someone for the Japanese job with at least 15 years of company experience and Takeo has only eight years of experience. He was being groomed to eventually take over the operation, but the just-departed top executive had been expected to serve until he reached retirement age in another seven years.

Jane Yamaguchi: Yamaguchi is a Hawaiian-born manager currently heading up a major division for your company in the United States. She was a dual economics and Asian studies major at the University of Hawaii. For the last several years she has been studying the Japanese market and has become a true expert on that country. She enjoys traveling and spends as much time in Asia as possible. You know she would be very interested in the job if it were offered, although you are concerned that her husband and two high-school-age children may not shore her enthusiasm about living in Jaapn. In addition, you worry that if she is not offered a new challenge soon, she might start looking for another position.

Jacques Moine: Moine is your most experienced international manager. Originally from France, Jacques has held senior management positions in your firm's operations in Germany, Spain, Canada, Argentina and Mexico. Moine appears to be quite satisfied with his current posting in Mexico. Because that operation is both stable and very efficient, it likely could be run by someone with less experience.

Select the individual you think is the best candidate. Explain your reasons for selecting the candidate that you did and explain why you did not select the other candidates.

Solution Preview

The candidate selected as the most viable to fill the head of operations in Japan is Jane Yamaguchi.
While both she and Takeo Takahashi may be able to step into the position effectively, Yamaguchi possesses
the necessary level of experience, knowledge, and abilities. Takahashi is also being groomed for such a
position, but lacks experience to head operations. He may be able to make decisions and function
appropriately. However, he may also be weak in some critical areas of operations management.
Yamaguchi is looking for a position with greater responsibility and opportunity. The fear of her searching
for a new opportunity and leaving the organization is very real. ...

Solution Summary

The case is presented as a position for head of operations in Japan. The organization's decision on who to place in the newly vacant position is based on skills and abilities, as well as placement of suitable employees in new positions that allow for professional and career growth.

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