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Entrepreneur Robert Roche’s Insights: Building a Successful Career in Japan


Robert Roche

Robert W. Roche

(Executive Chairman and President of Oak Lawn Marketing, Inc.; Executive Chairman of Acorn International)

Robert W. Roche is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist active in the U.S., China, and Japan. He is the co-founder, Executive Chairman, and President of Oak Lawn Marketing, Inc., a Japan-based company that engages in the TV home shopping business.  The company produces the TV shopping program 'Shop Japan', known for brands such as

True Sleeper, Wonder Core, and 'Billy's Boot Camp' DVDs.

 

Robert Roche, a seasoned entrepreneur with a substantial footprint in the Japanese business landscape, has navigated the complex waters of establishing and running successful businesses in Japan, China, and the United States. Roche, originally from the United States, moved to Japan shortly after completing his education at the University of Denver, where he studied law with a focus on Japanese legal systems. His career journey in Japan started in Nagoya, motivated by personal and professional reasons, and flourished into founding over 50 companies, including notable ventures in direct response television.

 

This interview explores Roche's experiences and provides valuable guidance for foreigners considering career opportunities in Japan. His unique insights are especially relevant for members of Jelper Club, our platform dedicated to connecting students from top universities globally with tailored job and internship opportunities in Japan.

  

 

—— What initially brought you to Japan, and how did you start your entrepreneurial journey there?

 

Roche: I first visited Nagoya, Japan in 1983 as an undergraduate student studying abroad at Nanzan University's Center for Japanese Studies. I returned in 1986 while attending law school and worked as a research student in the Department of Law.  After graduating from law school, I decided to move to Japan to pursue my professional goals.   Finding no suitable legal positions available, I  created my own opportunities, and my entrepreneurial spirit was born.  I explored various sectors, including the direct response television industry. While this  wasn't my initial choice, it  became a transformative  part of my career path.



— Can you describe your business strategy and management style, and how they have evolved over your career in Japan?

 

Roche: My approach to business and management has always been pragmatic and adaptive. Initially, necessity dictated my entry into various businesses, but over time, I developed a preference for being hands-off, especially when  business is proceeding well because fundamentally, I consider myself to be efficient with my time and efforts. However, when problems arise,  I become very hands-on, diving into details to rectify issues directly. This flexibility has been crucial in a rigid business environment like Japan.

 


—— From your experience, what are the key challenges and rewards of starting a business in Japan as a foreigner?

 

Roche: Japan presents unique challenges and rewards. It's a very hard place to start a business due to the stringent rules, but these rules rarely change, making it stable once you are established. This contrasts sharply with places like China, where the business environment can change rapidly, making it easy to start, but hard to sustain, a business. The United States lies somewhere in between, offering a balance that might seem more familiar to Western entrepreneurs.


 

—— What advice would you give to young professionals or students from abroad considering internships or career opportunities in Japan?

 

Roche: For those looking at internship opportunities in Japan, or students considering long-term career paths here, understanding and integrating into the Japanese culture and language is crucial. Japan is not a market where short-term stints are typically beneficial unless they are part of a larger, committed career plan. It’s about building lasting relationships and a deep understanding of the market.

 


—— How do you see the role of platforms like Jelper Club in supporting foreigners to build careers in Japan?

 

Roche: Jelper Club plays a crucial role by educating Japanese employers about the benefits of hiring internationally-minded young professionals and helping those professionals navigate the complexities of Japanese career opportunities. This  platform is essential for facilitating smoother transitions for foreigners entering the Japanese job market, as the economy is becoming more internationally driven.

 

 

Conclusion


Roche’s journey from a law student to a multifaceted entrepreneur in Japan offers profound insights for foreigners looking to explore career opportunities in Japan. His experiences underscore the importance of cultural integration, long-term commitment, and strategic planning. Platforms like Jelper Club are pivotal in bridging the gap between ambitious young professionals and Japanese companies eager to globalize their operations.

 

For anyone looking to embark on a similar journey, the path is challenging but immensely rewarding, promising not just career growth, but deep personal and professional fulfillment in one of the world's most dynamic markets.


At Jelper Club, we're here to support you every step of the way for your career development in Japan. Our platform connects ambitious students from top universities worldwide with exclusive internship and full-time job opportunities in Japan with a variety of Japanese proficiency requirements. We also provide access to practical information, member-only events, and a professional community of like-minded individuals.

 

If you're ready to embark on your own Japanese adventure, visit Jelper Club today and discover how we can help you unlock your potential in Japan.




(Interviewer/Editor: Jelper Club Editorial Team)

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