Interview with Yusaku Kono: Rising Star Award Recipient


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A recently added award category at the IPC APEX EXPO is the Rising Star Award. According to IPC:

The IPC Rising Star Award is given to IPC members who have taken leadership roles and provided support to IPC standards, education, advocacy and solutions to industry challenges. Their contributions have made significant impact upon IPC and industry within the past five years and will continue to have a lasting impact for many years to come.

This year, IPC recognized two people for this award: Pierre Emmanuel Goutorbe of Airbus, and Yusaku Kono of Japan Unix.

In this article, Patty Goldman speaks with Kono about his involvement with IPC committees and his contributions, which led to this award.

Patty Goldman: Yusaku, congratulations on receiving this award. Please tell our readers a bit about yourself and your current position at Unix, along with your work background.

Yusaku Kono: I joined this industry and Japan Unix (the global leader of robotic and laser soldering) in 2013 as group leader of the corporate planning division. Prior to this, I’d been working as strategic marketing planner at Ogilvy & Mather, which is a global ad agency. My clients were global high-tech companies, such as IBM, SAP, Sisco, Siemens, Adobe, Motorola as well as domestic large brands such as Mitsubishi Electronics and Suntory. I’ve been involved in the entire strategic development, such as branding, channel planning, lead acquisition, media planning and activation planning.

Therefore, I’m very familiar with how foreign organizations enter into our market by expressing and maximizing the brands’ values and I have the knowledge of effective marketing frameworks and methods. I take the same role at Japan Unix as marketing expert like Ogilvy, although I’ve been making efforts for our own brand rather than ad customers. I’ve adopted the same methods of IBM and other global companies into both Japan Unix for domestic and global markets. Furthermore, we contracted with IPC in 2015/16 and I’ve been dedicating my efforts to building IPC adoption by Japanese manufacturers with the methods that I acquired from the previous customers and employers.

YusakuKono_Award_JapanUnix.jpg

Goldman: How and when did you first get involved with IPC committees?

Kono: I’ve been involved with IPC committees since 2015/16. As I mentioned, I’m not a tech person but more on the marketing side. Therefore, my motivation in a committee is to understand the process, passion, discussions and values delivered by all committee members. As we represent the IPC organization in Japan, we must deliver what is happening in the global electronics industry, the values of IPC standards, and the reasons to believe in global standards to Japanese customers.

And I’ve been seeing that IPC committees have openness, fairness, and scientific methods with actual data, which are used to decide criteria in standards. I believe that our role is to make IPC open and clear as a global organization and to tell the truth around the global industry.

I vividly remember at an A610 committee meeting, when one attendee gave a proposal to use X-ray or AOI inspection system. However, Teressa Rowe responded that IPC standards are not only for large enterprises but also for all global SMEs. From standard and global organization points of view, we cannot force these companies to install such expensive systems. This expresses the attitude of the organization with fairness and openness. It shows a very honest and organizational belief that the standard is for the entire global industry, not just for large enterprises.

The Japanese markets have a huge disadvantage regarding language. People just don’t know who or what IPC is and why global companies use IPC standards instead of their own company standards. If our people understand them, they are more confident and happier to use IPC standards instead of domestic or their own standards if they wish to do business in global markets.

Goldman: What committees and/or subcommittees are you involved with at IPC?

Kono: I’ve been involved in the A610, J-STD001, the A610 Automotive addendums. I’m also interested in the space and medical addendums.

Goldman: What contributions do you feel you have made?

Kono: Well, I’m not a tech person, so I cannot judge or propose standard criteria or any technical discussion. But I can tell a true story, translate it into my own language with the goal of enriching IPC brand values and spreading it into entire market here in Japan. Also, the Japanese market is an absolutely blue ocean with lots of opportunities for IPC as one of the major electronics countries in Asia. Since 2015/16, we were not able to find or receive information on any news in Japanese relevant to IPC standards and organization. But we now mediate the action, news, and values of IPC to our customers. Now people and companies can find the latest information in their own language. So, we adopted a brand-new approach to the market. Since this is a new market for IPC, we could try many new things. As the result of one or two years, we could achieve over double sales every year and the increase the number of new membership acquisition. This would be a contribution which we made.

Goldman: Have any documents been published that you were involved with?

Kono: We’ve translated and updated five standards: J-STD 001, A610, A600, A620, and IPC-7711/21. Also, we established a training center for A610 and 001.

Goldman: What advice would you give to others regarding involvement with standard/specification development at IPC?

Kono: Well, I suppose that I’m not the right person who can give advice to others. However, not only from a tech perspective but also marketing point of view, joining the process of development is very useful, practical, and beneficial if you’re involved in IPC business in your own market. There are lots of clues, comments, and discussion that expresses what IPC is and what IPC’s values are. This information is very important and the base of marketing strategy to make IPC successful in each market.

Goldman: What were your thoughts when you were notified of your Rising Star Award?

Kono: I felt very honored. However, we’re just getting started and still on the way to success. IPC is significant if Japanese companies want to participate in the global industry. Some companies still tend to use their own quality standard and language, but if we want global customers to understand the excellence of our production quality, we should use a common language. I feel that we can play a prominent role in our economy and Japanese manufacturers can also express their excellence in the global business environment, leading to more success and growth.

Goldman: Do you feel an increased commitment to IPC standards/specifications since you have received this award? Will it encourage you to get more involved?

Kono: Absolutely, yes. As I mentioned above, I believe that we play a key role so Japanese companies won’t be left behind in global electronics standards. I’ve been seeing that more and more domestic companies are required to follow IPC standards by their international customers. Also, due market development and innovation, new standards have come up such as A640 or printed electronics. I’d like to catch up with these steps and development and bring them to Japanese companies. Again, we’re still on the way to success and have much farther to go. I believe that there are many more potentials and opportunities here. I’d like to make Japanese companies, their global customers, IPC and ourselves happy and share success and benefits among all of us.

Goldman: Very well said. Again, congratulations on your award and best wishes.

Kono: Thank you, Patty.

This article was originally published in I-Connect007's inaugural Show & Tell Magazine.

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