Jason Stevens: Leading a Multinational Company

When Jason Stevens is conducting business in Japan as CEO of Mitsubishi International Corporation, he is careful to make sure that his phrasing, his body language, and his observance of protocol comport with the subtlety and precision that characterize Japanese business culture. Stevens, the first non-Japanese CEO in the company’s history, seeks to build bridges between American and Japanese business cultures as the face of a multinational company while flawlessly utilizing his management style to continue the growth of Mitsubishi.

Born in Tokyo, Stevens moved to the United States at the age of six months with his family. He kept in touch with the friendships he built in Japan and grew a personal connection with Japan when returning for summer vacations. When his headhunter asked if he was interested in working as part of a Japanese-based company, Stevens jumped at the chance and never looked back. Almost two decades later, Jason Stevens continues to do two things which may seem to be contradictory, but which are critical to professional development: continuously widening his range of experience, while also deepening  his expertise in certain critical fields.  

What may be most admirable about Stevens’ career path was his ability to seamlessly incorporate himself into so many different work environments and cultures. He notes how extremely detail-oriented the Japanese are, as he explains, “no decision would be made until every possible thing is considered by every possible person.” Frequently dealing with lengthy analyses intended to understand every aspect of a transaction or issue to the closest detail, Stevens also mentioned how it has been a boon to the company to employ so many intelligent and long-term thinkers.  

When asked about what advice he would provide to young students or aspiring businessmen, Stevens urged his audience to understand the necessary skills required to operate well beyond borders. Slowing down, practicing patience, and having an open-minded perspective were all crucial characteristics for global professionals to exhibit in order to conduct successful business. He also stressed students should aim to understand the importance of working with a strong group of co-workers committed to mutual support and doing business with integrity. Working hard to further the interests of its counterparts, while never “playing close to the line” between proper and improper business practices ensures long-term profitability and a strong reputation in the market.