CIO Spotlight: Yuzuru Fukuda, Fujitsu

What's the best career advice you ever received? “When in doubt, choose the tougher, more difficult path. I made that choice several times and am ultimately glad I made that choice.”

Headshot of Yuzuru Fukuda, Corporate Executive Officer, EVP, CIO/Deputy CDXO at Fujitsu
Fujitsu

Name: Yuzuru Fukuda

Company: Fujitsu Limited

Job title: Corporate Executive Officer, EVP, CIO/Deputy CDXO

Date started current role: April 2022

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Yuzuru Fukuda is the Corporate Executive Officer, EVP, CIO, and Deputy-Chief Digital Transformation Officer at Fujitsu. Fukuda first joined the company in 2020, and has over 20 years of experience in the industry.

What was your first job? I started my career in B2B sales at the Japanese subsidiary of SAP, a German ERP software provider.

Did you always want to work in IT? In the sense that I’ve always been involved with the IT industry, yes. During my 23 years with SAP, I worked mainly in B2B sales, enterprise architecture consulting, new business development, and I was also the head of SAP's Japanese subsidiary for 6 years. My first experience as a CIO and working in an IT department was when I joined Fujitsu in 2020.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? At university, I studied to become a teacher of geography and history. At that time, I would never have imagined that I would be working as a CIO in the business world. In addition to my formal education, during my career, I updated my knowledge and skills by attending three graduate Executive Programs, including INSEAD.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. When I first joined SAP, I thought I would rethink my career after about five years. However, the IT industry changes very quickly, and I still found myself working in the industry for 23 years, having moved from one position to another. I have been working in the IT department since I joined Fujitsu, so I have experienced a great variety of positions.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Global implementation of Business Applications (ERP, CRM, HCM...), analytics, cloud modernisation, and security represent the most important driving factors in the coming year.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? The CEO has set out a number of priorities including to transform management, operations, and business models to be data-driven to increase profitability.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? Since the capability of IT itself is expanding from the traditional "technology that supports business" to "technology that innovates business," I believe that the role of the CIO is expanding, or should expand accordingly. In addition, as IT is becoming more strategic, I believe that the importance of the "C" in the CIO, especially at the management level, is increasing in terms of influence and leadership.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? Yes, I am also responsible for leading digital transformation for the Group. Our CEO also holds the post CDXO (Chief Digital Transformation Officer), and I am the CIO and Deputy-CDXO, assisting the CDXO. Our company-wide project to digitally transform Fujitsu involves both revenue growth and operational efficiency. We are trying to balance the two, but it is not an easy task.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? We are visualising and managing several types of value that IT delivers with KPIs. On the other hand, as all business models are changing to include IT, we feel the need to visualise various data more precisely and aggressively, and advance management in a data-driven manner, which is what we are working on.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? Our “Fujitsu Way” includes the three core values of "Aspiration," "Trust," and "Empathy," which are also very important and have a close affinity with our IT organisation. We are working to "encourage all IT members to take on challenges and create an environment that facilitates such challenges," "enhance the trust of management and the field as an organization," and "empathize with the challenges of all departments and work together to solve them.” It is easy to say, but not so easy to do. Therefore, I make sure that I myself actively communicate with our members at various opportunities, and that the leadership team, including myself, takes the initiative in putting words into action.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? To be honest, there are many skills areas that we’d like to further strengthen, especially for roles like "enterprise architects", "data scientist", and "business application specialists," who have the potential to become change agents.

What's the best career advice you ever received? When in doubt, choose the tougher, more difficult path. I made that choice several times and actually had to confront difficult times, but looking back on it later, I am ultimately glad I made that choice.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. Yes, we are systematically working with the HR department as an important element of sustainable organisational management. As for challenges, since we are a large organisation with 2,000 employees, we are working on better ways to find high-potential personnel. When we hear positive evaluations about personnel, we try to increase contact as much as possible by chatting directly with them or having lunch with them.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? I am only in my third year as CIO, so I am still learning myself and would love to receive some advice, too. As a peer, I would say that "IT has tremendous potential, depending on the leadership of IT leaders.”

What has been your greatest career achievement? What shapes my leadership today is my experience in turning around a $1 billion USD business that was underperforming during my previous position at SAP and growing it by more than 50% in six years.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? There are many things that I realised and truly understood for the first time once I started working as a CIO and more closely in IT. I feel like if I had gotten more involved with IT directly earlier in my career, I might’ve had a broader perspective.

What are you reading now? I am interested in Web3 as a technology that has the potential to discontinuously change market conventions, and I am reading related books with great interest.

Most people don't know that I… My family belongs to a long line of priests that have served at a Japanese Shinto shrine that is over 1,400 years old.

In my spare time, I like to…like skiing, playing golf, eating good food with my family, and going on short trips to hot springs.

Ask me to do anything but… Skip my weekly trip to the ramen shop! I always need to go at least once.