In Japan, April 1 is most certainly not April Foolsâ€™ Day.
April 1 is actually the start of the financial year for Japanese companies. And along with this fiscal reset, April 1 is the day that groups of recent graduates begin their careers with a new company, a loyal relationship that may very well be life-long. This unique recruitment culture is called Shinsotsu. Talented students are identified at various institutions. They go through testing, seminars, company visits, and other methods to make sure thereâ€™s a solid â€œfitâ€ with a companyâ€™s culture and values. It makes sense. In a culture with a tradition of life-long employment, itâ€™s critical for both the students and the companies to get it right.
The ANA â€“ All Nippon Airways Group has well over 30,000 employees, and on April 1, I was honored to be part of a celebration to welcome over a thousand new graduates to ANA. It was Tuesday morning, and I was quite well jet-lagged after the departure events and inaugural flight on ANAâ€™s new service from Vancouver (YVR) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND). Our hosts shuttled us over to ANAâ€™s aircraft maintenance facility at HND. Itâ€™s huge, with seven hangar bays and the ability to service all of ANAâ€™s jet fleet, right up to major â€œDâ€ checks.
But we werenâ€™t there to look at airplanes. Well, not quite. As we were escorted through the hangars, there was one plane looming in a semi-lit bay. It was ANAâ€™s last Boeing 747-400D (Domestic), registered JA8961. It wasnâ€™t there for maintenance, but to be part of ANA’s New Employee Celebration of Shinsotsu.
We walked to the back of the hangar to be seated behind a remarkably large and perfectly organized group of 1,089 new ANA employees-to-be. The 747 was the ideal backdrop for the event.