September 19, 2013


We are now starting our Diversity and Innovation (D&I) Interview series to introduce companies that are realizing success in innovation through diversity.
We are very fortunate to start our series with Mr.Hiroshi Tachikawa , Representative Director of Propharm Japan. Propharm Japan was established in 2006, mainly providing consulting services in sustainability (environment and social) and clean tech fields.

Hiroshi Tachikawa is one of the global professionals who are providing innovative leading solution to countries world-wide. He is young-mid-30s- and passionate Japanese whose passports are constantly filled up with many countries he visited for his business. Propharm Japan has been accepting student inters from various countries since 2011. We asked him how International students are contributing to his company and the background of having international student interns.

Q: What kind of career path have you had and what made you start your own business?

Mr. Tachikawa: I have been very passionate about the issue of environment and society for long time and pursued my academic as well as professional careers in the field. I went to the Ohio State University in US, and attained B.Sc., in Sustainable Resource Management. After that, I came back to Japan to do my Master in Science in International Development Studies in the University of Tokyo with a special focus in sustainable environment. After my study, I worked for a multinational pharmaceutical and an environmental consulting company, followed by a number of environmental consulting projects I was involved in. I launched my own company, Propharm Japan to achieve innovative approach to the field of environment.

Q: What is very innovative about your approach?

Mr. Tachikawa: We are trying to be the bridge between Japan and other countries, by introducing already successful and forefront technique developed into other countries carefully re-modifying the technique suitable for its own country’s context. It is mainly from Japanese technology to countries which are experiencing the development so fast and need to keep up with strict environment guideline. Sometimes, we help bringing the advanced technology from Europe or US to Japan, again making sure that the technology will be adaptable and well suited to our context and needs. One strength that Japan has is on Energy and Material Efficiency. This aspect is strongly demanded nowadays particularly in Asia that are rapidly growing.

Q: Is there any challenge to realize innovation?

Mr. Tachikawa: Japanese technology is very high quality, but it is usually very costly. We do not want to compromise the quality, but at the same time, we have to think out of our own box, and think the needs from the clients’ perspective. This process requires us to make the existing established high quality technique into different way, not necessarily only simpler, but more of different, I would say. If we want to change the world in a sustainable way and contribute to the world, we need to be creative and always be flexible.

Q: How did you decide to have International Student Interns in your company?


Mr. Tachikawa: Our company is very focused in particular area, namely Environmental and Social fields. And we are working in the global field, having clients all over the world and working in the project in each place. In a sense, we are ‘Border less’ company, in many ways. From this point, we do not hire people based on nationality, but specialty of the students, moreover whether the students have passion to realize our mission and have a strong sympathy with our vision. I feel like it is not exaggerate to say that all our team members, employees and ineterns, are united within the common interest and vision. Of course, we bear different responsibility for the clients but I consider all of us as one team. This means that no matter what your position is, you will be one of our team members. To me, what type of idea, innovation are provided is important not who provides idea and innovation. Nowadays, the environmental issues become very vital as we are all aware from unusual weather patterns everywhere. In order to change the world in a sustainable way, we do not need closed bureaucratic team but we need open, innovative team.

Q: What kind of International Student interns have you had in your team so far?

Mr. Tachikawa: We have had interns from all over the world: Mexico, Greece, Philippines, Malaysia, and yes from Japan too. Also, we closely work with professionals in India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, South Africa, Brazil, Finland, Taiwan and much more. We do have projects all over the world, but students’ countries of origin and our project base are not necessarily the same. Environment is a global, border-less topic, that anyone regardless of the country of their origin, can be involved as specialists.


Q. Any message to International Students who are looking for internship in Japan?

Mr.Tachikawa: I have been so fortunate to have international students in our company. I see that existing Japanese employees became very inspired by very talented youths who brought a lot of global perspective and atmosphere in the company. The students definitely brought positive innovative energy. We are also seeing that International Students are able to take initiative on their own and can learn things very quickly. We do not need to teach from one to ten, but students themselves try to pick up things on their own. I am fortunate that I can work with International Students and they can have an opportunity to work in Japan with us. I hope that more students will have such opportunities, not necessarily in our company, but other companies of their interest, and become the bridge between Japan and the world. To this end, I feel very close to vision and activity of the Active Connector.

About Propharm:

Propharm provide practical consulting/advisory services with a specific focus on environmental and social fields mainly in Japan and Asia; aiming to build momentum toward a sustainable path for the world.
Propharm helps corporate leaders and practicioners think through the best approaches to enhance their business performance in consideration of the future implications of environmental and social issues such as global warming, resource scarcity. Their consulting services include a wide range of activities related to various aspects of the environmental and social field, targeting at early- to late- stage companies including: strategic consultancy for early-stage clean tech/social ventures, cost-down and environmental performance (e.g., energy and material efficiency) improvement for mid-to-small and large companies, and relevant risk management.