10 Things You Didn’t Know About Masahiro Okafuji

In the business world, there are certain names that ring through with an inspiring resonance. Among these key players is Masahiro Okafuji, the highly successful CEO of the international conglomerate, Itochu Corporation. Below, we delve into some of the lesser-known aspects of his life and business career, showcasing the unique aspects that have shaped his success story.

1. Early Life and Education

Masahiro Okafuji was born on March 15, 1953, in Tondabayashi, Osaka, Japan. Despite coming from a middle-class family, Okafuji was determined to rise above his circumstances. He excelled in his studies and was able to secure a spot at the prestigious Kyoto University.

He completed his undergraduate studies in commerce in 1976. Recognizing the value of a solid education in his quest to break into the business world, Okafuji went on to pursue his Master’s degree at the same university graduating in 1978, further cementing his determination to excel.

2. Career Beginnings

After completing his Master’s program, Okafuji immediately dove into the corporate world. He started his career by joining Itochu Corporation, one of Japan’s leading general trading companies. Over the years, he moved up the ranks culminating in his appointment as the CEO in April 2010.

During his tenure, Okafuji worked under a number of departments such as the Aerospace & Information Systems and International Affairs. His diverse experience in different sectors provided him with a solid foundation to lead Itochu.

3. His Bold Decision Making

The world of business is not for the faint of heart. It requires strong leadership and often bold decisions. One of Okafuji’s most daring moves was diversifying Itochu’s investments into non-core businesses, an unusual move for a trading company, but one that has paid off in considerable returns.

This strategy was a major risk at its inception, as it involved a shift from the company’s traditional trading operations. However, Okafuji’s strategy proved successful, and he has been credited with transforming Itochu into a highly profitable entity.

4. Authorship

Okafuji stands as a unique character in the business world; he is not just a successful businessman, but also an author. He has written several books that give an insight into his business philosophy and leadership style. Some of his noteworthy books include “New Civilization Opened with Business,” and “Ways to Walk with Genron”.

His literature offers an inside view into his visionary and futuristic thinking. It’s a testament to his ability to perceive business and life from a fresh perspective, and his willingness to share his knowledge and experience with others.

5. Focus on Corporate Social Responsibility

Okafuji has consistently emphasized the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Under his leadership, Itochu has undertaken numerous CSR activities such as promoting renewable energy, investing in safe and clean businesses, and undertaking numerous social welfare initiatives.

His emphasis on CSR is a testament to his belief in businesses having a role beyond just making profits. He believes in companies making a positive impact in society and this precisely shows why he is held with high esteem in the business world.

6. Personal Life

Okafuji has managed to keep his personal life largely private, a feat not easily achieved by major corporate figures. He is a family man with one daughter who he has kept away from the public glare. He is also known to be a great lover of culture and arts.

Despite his high-profile role and demanding schedule, he has always prioritized his family and personal time. This balance demonstrates his ability to successfully manage not just a global business, but also his own life.

7. Interest in Technology

Being a visionary leader, Okafuji has always shown a keen interest in technology and its impact on businesses. In line with this, he has championed the use of technology within Itochu, continually seeking innovative ways to integrate cutting-edge technology into the company’s operations.

His efforts have driven Itochu’s digital transformation, optimizing operations and generating new avenues for growth. His tech-savvy nature presents him as a forward-thinking leader, always staying ahead of the curve.

8. Global Influence

Under Okafuji’s leadership, Itochu Corporation became a global force. His strategic decisions took the company to new heights – from investments in natural resources and energy sectors to ventures in consumer goods, Itochu’s reach under Okafuji has seen significant expansion.

This heightened global presence has not just created a larger customer base and generated higher profits, but has solidified Itochu’s reputation as one of the leading sogo shosha (general trading companies) in the world.

9. Recognition

For his outstanding work, Okafuji has received numerous awards and recognition. One of the significant honors was being listed as one of the “Best-Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review in 2015. This recognition further affirmed his status as an influential leader in global business.

The award underscores Okafuji’s exceptional leadership skills, versatile business acumen, and his robust approach to enriching stakeholder value while transforming Itochu into a global powerhouse.

10. Philanthropy

Okafuji not only values CSR but is also personally involved in philanthropy. He has pledged a large part of his personal fortune to charitable causes. His generous giving underscores his belief in sharing wealth and uplifting society.

He serves as an ambassador to the Global Fund, an international financing and partnership organization that aims to “accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria as epidemics.” His philanthropic efforts truly depict his dedication towards a better world.

After this in-depth look into the life and career of Masahiro Okafuji, it becomes clear why he is such a respected figure in the business world. His visionary leadership, commitment to CSR, and dedication to social causes truly make him an inspiring figure.

For more insights into the business acumen of Okafuji and Itochu Corporation, visit their website here. To learn more about his philanthropic work with the Global Fund, click here.