Back in 1990, I believe that I was one of the first entrepreneurs to bring skilled PC and network engineers into corporations to cut costs and boost quality. Today, this process is called Outsourcing. We didn’t have a name for it then, but it was an obvious development of the ongoing search for better efficiency and cost control for our clients. And in order to make this new service work, one of the places I recruited some of my best people was India. At that time, American software companies hadn’t yet discovered that India has a mathematics tradition and has world-class IT people.

In the mid 1990’s, though, the US Internet boom was in full swing and IT companies were desperate to get good people. The US government understood this and started opening up its visa program (H1B visas) to allow India’s cream of the crop to enter the country as skilled labor. This meant that Indians wanting to work outside India suddenly had one of the most attractive markets in which to work – which naturally meant that any burgeoning interest in Japan was quickly killed off.

So for those of us in the business of bringing developers into Japan, the business model had to change. I personally got out of the business, but other companies, especially Indian companies that were quick learners, started a system that allowed them to sell and specify a project in a target country, and then do the coding, industry expertise, and support back in India. For the right size (usually larger) of company, this new off-shore development model really works and now 100’s of Japanese companies are getting major (and complicated) software developed for them in such places as Bangalore, Chennai, Bombay, Calcutta, and elsewhere.

Here in Japan, the best known offshore development specialists are companies such as Tata Consulting Service, Wipro, Infosys and HCL. But some of the smaller players are also making inroads. This week we have a CEO position open for just such a company. The company is called Covansys, and it is based in Michigan, USA. Covansys already has clients in Japan. The CEO’s job is to get the company properly established in Japan and increase its core business of doing off-shore software development work for major Japanese corporate customers.

In a small operation like the one Covansys wants to start in Tokyo, the CEO position carries both a lot of responsibility and a lot of freedom. For this reason, it isn’t for everybody. But for would-be entrepreneurs, it’s an ideal opportunity. The job entails doing everything from sales and project team recruiting to general project management (until the personnel team grows a bit). The individual must also have the right personality for the job. The client is looking for someone who is confident, but not so much so that they don’t listen to ideas and advice.

I know that some people may hesitate to work for an Indian company. I can confidently say that Covansys, like some other quality Indian companies here, is committed to Japan for the long-term. Certainly their local representative, APS Mani, understands Japan and has been here since 1976. So the ability to build decent foundations and relationships will be a key factor for long-term success. Apart from the moral support of the local representative, the other obvious attraction of this position is that it comprises an ideal entry-level CEO opportunity. That is, Covansys prefers someone with excellent sales skills and personal “presence” than they do someone who has been a CEO before. These days there are not many job opportunities like this, and so Covansys is not only interesting from the international and technological nature of its business, but also from the potentially important career move to a CEO position. If you’re interested in this position, drop me an email at, and I will give you more details and an introduction to the local representative.