Simon Cropper

HR Director, Japan & APAC

Domo Japan |

What Do You Enjoy Most About People Management?

Managing people is hard, and even harder with a big team. Real enjoyment comes from helping people with their problems and helping them to grow and learn. Too many leaders micromanage their staff, stressing themselves out and stressing their staff. People also won’t grow if you keep telling them what to do! The really fun bit of leadership is when your staff tell you thanks for the support you give them, those comments drive me to keep helping my team.

Years in Recruitment

25 Years (Agency, In-House TA, HR)

Industries Covered/Worked

Automotive, Banking/Finance, Insurance, IT/Software, Pharma

Specialties / Skills

Good question! Driving overall employee engagement is one and recently I have realized a massive need for great facilitation skills as very important to drive teams, bring people together, and get leadership to take action in today’s online world (wouldn’t have mentioned this last year but it’s become more clear this is a critical skill in HR and recruitment).

Overall hiring & talent management, on-boarding at all levels, along with the annual talent management process (Graduate hiring; Mid-career hires, Executive rec recruitment).

Building the Employee brand, through social media, online events and seminars, HR professional roundtables.
Hands-on training and development, I love getting involved with team and management development, new hire training, manager training and executive coaching.

Years Experience Managing

20 years managing both in-house TA teams and whole HR teams

Career Path to Recruitment/Current Position

I started with zero experiences as a recruiter many years ago, learnt the key to success wasn’t just the placements but also how important it was to build rapport with key people in your client, and not just with the HR team but also at the senior leadership level. It was because of these relationships I was offered several in-house TA roles.

My first TA experience was in the software industry for a US firm based in Boston. From there I began to learn several other areas of HR, such as Comp & Ben, Performance Management, and Talent Development. What helped me to move up was to take on bigger and more challenging roles even without the skills. I learnt a lot on the fly and slowly moved from TA, to Training &Development, and to a HRBP role, and then into HR leadership.

I also found that taking assignments overseas was also key to learn global HR best practices, and had an opportunity to work in APAC and even a couple of years in Europe, based in the Netherlands. This was for a global insurance company as a senior member of their Global Leadership & Development Team responsible for their top 200 C-level management globally, which was a real eye opener.

You have extensive recruitment experience both agency side and in-house, do you have a preference and what are the main differences in your experience

Both sides are exciting. I think any recruiter should consider even short term as a recruiter in-house even if it is through an RPO –there is so much you can’t see from “outside” as a recruiter. You also realize how important it is to learn the company culture; on the outside we always struggle to understand why clients don’t like our candidate or the candidate quits in their first one year after joining. Having a deep understanding of the culture and internal politics goes a long way to a candidate`s success in the interview and impacts how long they stay. Most recruiters focus too much on the short term win of the placement and not the long term impact their candidates will have both on their own careers and the success and reputation of the recruiter who placed them.

I like external recruitment for the excitement to be able to work with various firms on different positions and meet and talk to lots of people from various backgrounds. Over the years recruitment can come to feel tiresome and like it never ends — like they say “You`re only as good as your last placement”. So the variety in agency work help to keep it fresh.

Internal recruitment and HR is great, as you have an opportunity as long as you stick at it to move around and learn different parts of HR and the business and occasionally, like me, find opportunities out of Japan either on a regional or global level. On returning to Japan you’ll find these experiences to be invaluable — Japan is such a unique market and global HQ always struggle to understand these differences. With global expertise you’ll be able to act as a bridge between corporate HQ and the Japan business.

What You Enjoy Most About Recruiting?

Somewhat in line with my answer to the previous question. Meeting and talking to lots of different people gives me an opportunity to learn and grow through the experiences of other people. To enjoy recruitment talk less and ask lots of open ended questions. Way too many recruiters talk too much! The more I can learn about people the better I can see if they will be successful in the position I help them get.

What You Enjoy Most About People Management?

Managing people is hard, and even harder with a big team. Real enjoyment comes from helping people with their problems and helping them to grow and learn. Too many leaders micromanage their staff, stressing themselves out and stressing their staff. People also won’t grow if you keep telling them what to do! The really fun bit of leadership is when your staff tell you thanks for the support you give them, those comments drive me to keep helping my team.

What is the most important attribute you typically look for in a candidate when hiring for your team/company?

Cultural fit! 100%. It doesn’t matter how good they are, what education or experiences they have, if they don`t fit the culture, theywon`t last or stay long. The more senior someone is, if they don`t fit the culture they are more likely to destroy overall employee engagement and even impact the bottom line of your business! I love the old saying “Culture Eats Strategy”!

Achievement/s You`re Most Proud of

Not one to list out all the incredible things I have done or how amazing I am. I am happy that even with all the ups and downs in my career I have always (for most part anyway) been able to step up from the bottom and move up the leadership ladder. Which isn’t bad considering I came to Tokyo as a back-packer with no real work experience and certainly no Japanese language skill

Any Pet Peeves?

Take this answer from my LinkedIn Profile – “Never blame anyone in your life. Good people give you happiness. Bad people give you an experience. Worst people give you a lesson” – An organization is made of “folks with different strokes” and HR has a tough job to keep a good balance! Just like the rudder on a ship, it’s our job to keep the ship running as straight as possible, “even when there a people around you trying to sink the ship”.

In most cases if you don’t like your experience you were partly responsible for the situation, it helps to do your best to learn from this experience in your career rather than being a victim and blaming other people.

If you hadn`t gone into recruitment what would you have been?

Sales, I always liked talking and selling opportunities to folks. I did get a job offer in my first couple of years recruitment as a car salesman from a major German car company to sell cars to the expat community in Tokyo. I do think about how things may have been if I had taken that job…

Tell us one change you would be very happy to see happen related to recruitment in Japan

I feel there are way too many recruitment firms, and that more governance and compliance-related actions are needed by thegovernment. You hear so many stories as in-house HR about the damage some recruiters have done to companies and people’s lives. Making money is great! But ethical recruitment is key to the professionalism and sustainability of this industry. Still, things have come a very long way since the 90’s…

Hobbies: How do you unwind outside of the job?

Right now work is kind of a hobby, I will still work most weekends. I love coffee and will go to Starbucks and work quietly for several hours most weekends. The other is walking and weight training. Long walks help me think, clear my head, and put things that are floating around up there in the correct compartments 😊 Weights are great too but I need a balance between something aggressive and something relaxing.

Your last meal on earth, what would it be?

I am not a foodie, I eat a really simple diet, fruit, veggies, and rice mostly, with some fish and no meat and dairy. Don’t think I would spend my last moments stuffing my face. Would rather spend it with family…

Tell us an unusual fact about yourself that your friends might not already know

I used to protect the Royal family. I was a Queen’s Guard and got to work around the globe. Along with life inside Buckingham Palace and some other amazing historical locations that the public never get to see! Amazing experience. I sometimes march or salute in my sleep and have flashbacks — I think this is because I was so young and military life really impacted me.

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