Q&A with Nick: HR Landscape in Japan and Talent Trends

ChapmanCG’s new Director in Japan, Nick Scheele, shares his views on the HR landscape in Japan, the synergy of HR and marketing, and his love of old-school CDs, food, photography and everything in between. Nick is originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, and has been based in Japan for almost 15 years.
What are the HR talent trends you are noticing in Japan at present? 
The most prominent trend in the Japan HR market, as we reach year end, is the continuation of an ongoing theme – the shortage of talent respective to demand. This shortage is most keenly felt in the areas of talent acquisition and business partnering where global requirements and local conditions do not always cleanly intersect. We are keenly interested to see the globalization of Japanese talent over the next five years and believe this will help to encourage a mutual exchange of HR practices and processes with the global market.
There’s a growing overlap with HR and marketing these days. Having worked in marketing yourself, what are your views on this?
On a personal level I do feel there can be a heightened level of synergy between HR and marketing, but it needs to be carefully considered with thoughtful corporate sponsorship, and not just packaged together with a project-type mentality. Additionally, consideration needs to be given to which elements of HR and marketing can happily cohabitate. Employer branding is the logical standard bearer but we should also more closely examine the commonalities between recruitment and PR, career forums and event planning, and business partnering and corporate communications. More holistically, we also need to look at the commonalities of the customer journey and the employee experience, and how these can better align.
How does the HR landscape differ from other areas of business you’ve worked in?
Compared to other sectors that I’ve recruited for in Japan, HR tends to take a more local market-focused approach rather than viewing the function as part of a cohesive global whole. The influence and drawing power of Japanese organizations creates an environment where many HR senior leaders have grown up very strong in policy and planning, and they have a desire to contribute to the globalization of Japanese companies. Yet, despite being highly skilled, their specific skill sets are not always easily transferable to foreign corporations. Although Japan provides a significant contribution to the global revenue of large organizations, reporting lines are commonly layered through an APAC HQ, which can then create a disconnect between Japan and the global HQ.
What do you enjoy most about your role? 
The most fascinating aspect of HR for me is not its current form, but what HR has the potential to become. As the seams between organizational functions become less binding, it is exciting to see HR take on elements of sales, marketing, corporate planning and strategy and in turn, becoming a driving force in change management and organization building.
What motivates you? 
At this stage of my life, I would say that family is my key motivator and providing them with a foundation to build their own successes is very fulfilling. As an extension of this, the simple joy of enabling someone to take a new step in their career has never faded and keeps driving me forward.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
I like to remind myself that I am very fortunate to be where I am and no matter the severity of the storm, it will pass.
Who is your role model, and why?
My role model is, and always has been, my father. He has always followed his own path and has never been afraid of being unique. He almost always excels at everything he tries through a high level of focus, attention to detail and a very large dose of creativity.
If you could have dinner with one person in the world past or present, who would it be and why?
Michael Jordan. One, because I am obsessed with the NBA and two, because I’d love to hear more about how he drove himself to be the best of all time. 
What is something most people don’t know about you? 
People might be surprised that I still buy CDs, Blu-Rays and other physical media. I have a strong affinity for tangible goods over their digital equivalents and though I’ve embraced the convenience of modern streaming services, I still get a thrill from buying a new CD and the experience that entails.
What do you work toward in your free time?
At the moment, I’m making a concerted effort to improve my physical fitness. Beyond that, I would like to revitalise my more creative instincts and be more proactive when it comes to photography, writing and cooking. I have a still distant goal to open a café/wine bar/gallery/performance space, if that is not trying to fit too many interests into one box!
What life accomplishments are most proud of?
One of the things I am most proud of is the life I have built for myself in Japan, having moved here many years ago with the clothes on my back and a couple of hundred dollars in my wallet. From there I have met my wife, had two kids, and am now a Director at ChapmanCG.
Read Nick’s informative article following the ChapmanCG HR leaders’ roundtable event co-hosted by Roche and connect with Nick on LinkedIn

Nick in one of his favorite local Tokyo cafés

A signature dish made by Nick himself, a seafood chowder/cornbread combo – yum!

La Maree, a french restaurant and cafe located in Hayama, an hour from Tokyo, one of Nick’s favourites. Offering both casual and formal dining, with terrace seating on the water and views of Mt Fuji, it’s also “an ideal place to do some work”, says Nick!

Nick’s photographic collection includes many beach and sunset shots, this one of a beach called Morito in the beachside town of Hayama, outside of Tokyo.

A beautiful sky shot from Nick’s hometown in New Zealand.



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Key Contributors:

Nick Scheele

Senior Director

Consulting Team
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Consulting Team

Nick Scheele

Senior Director

Nick Scheele is a Senior Director with ChapmanCG based in Japan. He works with the team to identify high-calibre HR talent in Japan and across the Asia-Pacific region. His main areas of focus are Head of HR, Senior HRBP, and functional HR leadership roles.

Prior to joining ChapmanCG, Nick worked as a Team Manager of the HR & Corporate Services at en world Japan for over four years. He specialised in HR-focused executive level searches across all industries. Nick started his recruitment career at East West Consulting in 2010, servicing all organisational needs in the consumer, mobile and automotive electronics fields.

Nick is originally from Christchurch, New Zealand and has been based in Japan for almost 15 years. He graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelors of Commerce majoring in marketing. In his free time, Nick enjoys cooking, photography, writing and exercise.