Managing Human Resources in the Age of VUCA and Diversity — Advice from Levent Arabaci, Former CTRO at Hitachi

Japan has created a council to consider a “new form of capitalism”, stating that it aims to lead in the areas of “sustainability and human capital”. At the same time, the corporate governance code states that “in light of the importance of human resource strategies …companies should present their policies for human resource development and the internal environment development to ensure diversity.” Abroad, foreign companies continue to compete globally based on constantly refining their systems for managing HR, attracting and developing talent, and drawing on diversity as a source of competitive advantage.

Here in Japan, Hitachi has been a leader in this area under the leadership of the late CEO Hiroaki Nakanishi and Levent Arabaci, who until recently served as Chief Transformation Officer (CTRO) for Global Operations, and previously was the EVP of Human Resources starting in 2012.

In this webinar, Mr. Arabaci will describe the range of modern HR practices that Hitachi has put in place during the past 10 years, spanning areas such as talent mapping, career planning and development, performance evaluations, practices for promotions, and increases in diversity. BDTI Representative Director Nicholas Benes will interview Mr. Arabaci to identify the biggest challenges Hitachi has faced, and to reveal his concrete advice as to how other Japanese companies can overcome similar challenges.

Next, we will be joined by Takeo Yamaguchi (ex-Hitachi) and Christiane Iwanoff of Olympus, two persons with extensive experience in HR management. The panel participants will share their experiences and perspectives, will consider additional issues that have arisen in recent years, such as the impact of WFH, addressing work-life balance, and building more diverse, innovative organizations.

Date:         June 1, 2022(Wed.)  12:00-14:30

Location:         Zoom Web Conference

Charge:       Free

Sign up


Levent Arabaci
(Former) Chief Transformation Officer (CTrO) Global Operations
(Former) GM, Human Capital Group
Hitachi Ltd.

Mr. Arabaci has over 25+ years of experience in management. Until recently, he served as a Corporate Officer, Chief Transformation Officer (CTrO) Global Operations and GM of the Human Capital Group at Hitachi Ltd., and also as a board member at Hitachi America Ltd. During the last three years, Mr. Arabaci was responsible for driving and executing the transformation across HR, Finance, IT and Procurement and was tasked with creating Hitachi’s first-ever Global Business Services (GBS), a center for shared services and consolidating global operations and back-office functions across the enterprise. In total, he worked at the Hitachi group for more than 16 years, 10 of which were related to Hitachi Ltd. Headquarter.

Prior to Hitachi, Mr. Arabaci held senior level positions at Cisco Systems Inc., Nestle, and Pepsi Co. in various functions such as operations, finance, internal audit and primarily human resources. This background brought a unique business acumen to his work in Human Resources.

Mr. Arabaci holds a Master’s degree in General Management from the University of Istanbul, and an MBA in Marketing from the California State University, San Bernardino. He is a member of various advisory boards and earned awards and recognition for the work he has produced in various positions during his career. The awards include the Best Plan Effectiveness in 2002, and the Best Use of Technology in 2003 from the Global Equity Organization (GEO), the “Global HR Leadership” award from the Asia Pacific HRM Congress in 2008, and the 2009 “Functional Excellence in HR” from the HR Symposium in Silicon Valley.


Takeo Yamaguchi
Member of Advisory Board, Cornerstone OnDemand Japan
(Formerly) Corporate Officer at Hitachi in charge of “human capital”

Takeo Yamaguchi is currently a member of the Advisory Board of Cornerstone OnDemand Japan. Before that, he was a senior adviser at EY Advisory & Consulting Japan. Previous to that position, he served as the corporate officer at Hitachi, Ltd. in charge of “human capital” for many years, helping to lead changes in Hitachi’s HR policies between 2011 and 2016.

Christiane Iwanoff
Vice President of Organization Development at Olympus Corporation

After finishing her Master Degree in Psychology Christiane worked in various HR roles in the publishing, travel and medtech sector. She joined Olympus in 2004 as Head of Learning and Development for EMEA. Over time her responsibilities expanded and in 2011 she was appointed Vice President HR for EMEA. In 2019 she became a member of the EMEA Management Board. Christiane has been leading the integration and centralization of the EMEA HR function and implemented unified and digital HR processes. Since April 1 2021 Christiane is heading up the Organization Development unit at the Olympus global Headquarters. The Organization Development unit is supporting developing the talents, capabilities and the workplace culture enabling the implementation of the Olympus strategy. Christiane just moved with her husband and her two kids to Tokyo.

Nicholas Benes
Representative Director, The Board Director Training Institute of Japan (BDTI)
Independent Director, Advantest Corporation

Mr. Benes received his B.A. in political science from Stanford University, and a JD-MBA degree from UCLA. He then worked at JP Morgan for 11 years and went on to lead a path-breaking M&A advisory boutique in Japan, JTP Corporation. He is an inactive member of the bar in California and New York. In the past, he served as a twice-elected Governor of the ACCJ, long-time Chair of its FDI Committee and Growth Strategy Task Force; and as a member of the Experts Committee of the Japan Investment Council. He has served as an independent outside director at a number of Japanese companies. Mr. Benes has taught corporate governance and business ethics as an Adjunct Professor at Hitotsubashi University and the International University of Japan.  In 2010, he was a member of the Financial Services Agency’s Corporate Governance Liaison Committee. In 2013, he proposed that the creation of a corporate governance code be included in the LDP’s growth strategy, to be implemented under the auspices of the FSA. He then advised members of the diet and the FSA regarding the content of Japan’s first corporate governance code. He is a Regional Governance Partner for the International Center for Corporate Governance.

Sachiko Ichikawa
Attorney-at-law, Tanabe & Partners
Outside Director, Tokyo Electron Limited
Outside Director, Olympus Corporation
Councilor, Sony Education Foundation

After graduating from the Law Department of Tokyo University, Ms. Ichikawa entered Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank.  Upon obtaining accreditation as a lawyer, she entered Tanabe & Partners, where she was active as a specialist in Labor Law issues, counseling corporate clients. After obtaining a Master of Laws degree from Georgetown University Law School, she became a member of the New York Bar Association. Since returning to Tanabe & Partners, she has served as a counsel representing the defense in a number of securities fraud lawsuits demanding damages compensation. She has expertise and understanding regarding the enormous impact that inadequate internal controls can have on companies, and the board leadership that is essential after they been discovered in crisis situations.


Ben Garton
Head of Research, BDTI

Since 2018, Ben Garton has led BDTI’s corporate governance research and data collection activities covering all listed firms in Japan. He also assists with BDTI’s training and consulting activities. Formerly, he served as a management-strategy consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton (Booz & Company) for six years supporting dozens of C-Level executives on projects with multinational firms. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins SAIS and part of the SAIS Women’s Alumni Network.


For inquiries, please contact BDTI

TEL: 03-6432-2337    FAX: 03-6432-2338
Email:  Web:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.