Roundtable discussion between Resonac CFO and Doshisha University Faculty of Economics’ Niizeki Seminar

Resonac CFO and university students discuss the transformation and future of the materials industry

Doshisha University Faculty of Economics, Niizeki Seminar
(front row center, Professor Mikiyo Niizeki; back row from right: Ms. Selina Scanlan, Mr. Koki Okinaga,
Mr. Kyohei Sonoda (seniors), Mr. Shunsuke Eno, Ms. Haruna Nakanishi (juniors) )
Our CFO Hideki Somemiya (front row right), Sustainability Department General Manager Nami Matsuko (front row left)

On August 24, 2023, we held a dialogue between members of the Niizeki Seminar at the Faculty of Economics, Doshisha University, who won the Nikkei STOCK League's Fighting Spirit Award for their paper "Material Innovations" on the material industry, and our CFO, Somemiya. The purpose of this event was for university students to learn through exchanging opinions with CFO, and for our company to gain insight by listening to fresh perspectives and expectations from university students who will lead the next generation. It was a meaningful meeting where we exchanged a variety of opinions on everything from business and financial strategy to human resource development, including a discussion with Professor Niizeki, who is in the position of sending out human resources as an educator.

Theme: “Current situation of and future expectations for companies producing materials and chemicals  
Part 1: Introduction of the 23rd Nikkei STOCK League award-winning paper “Material Innovations” Roundtable discussion with Niizeki Seminar members and CFO Somemiya  
Part 2: A conversation between Professor Niizeki and CFO Somemiya about human resource development at universities and the type of human resources companies seek

(The dialogue was held at Resonac Innovation Center ; names of organizations, positions, etc. are as of the time of implementation.)

Understand the expectations and opinions of Gen Z towards the materials industry and reflect them in management.

At this roundtable discussion, the students expressed their expectations and opinions, saying, “We can lead to solutions to the world's problems by bringing about a change in the materials industry. As the materials industry is located upstream from other industries, it has a ripple effect on other industries. Furthermore, the material industry is one of Japan's major strengths as a core industry, and Japan will be able to generate innovation from materials and solve social issues."
We also received the following questions from the students, and CFO Somemiya answered them for a free exchange of views.

  • What do you think about the risks of concentrating management resources on the semiconductor and electronic materials business?
  • How do you view the disclosure of technology and know-how to the entire industry from a CFO perspective?
  • What changes have occurred in the perception of non-financial information among CFO Somemiya himself and investors?
  • What kind of changes have occurred in employees and the organization as a result of the fundamental reform of the organizational structure? Also, were there any difficulties you encountered during the reform?
  • What is important when communicating inside and outside the company?
  • What qualities and skills are required to function as a CXO in the future? Also, is there anything we should be conscious of during our student life in order to acquire these skills?

In the second part, Professor Niizeki and CFO Somemiya had a conversation about human resource development at universities and the type of human resources companies seek, and a meaningful discussion was held toward developing the next generation of human resources.

We will utilize the expectations and opinions we received from students and Professor Niizeki in our management. Additionally, this roundtable discussion was made available to employees online. By listening to the opinions and expectations of Gen Z from a fresh perspective, each employee had an opportunity to think about Resonac's purpose of “Change society through the power of chemistry" and his/her own purpose as well. Our company has the purpose of “Change society through the power of chemistry," and as a material and chemical company located upstream to midstream in the value chain, we aim to further expand our business to solve social issues in collaboration with customers and business partners.

23rd Nikkei STOCK League Award-Winning Paper “Material Innovations”
The Nikkei STOCK League is a financial and economics learning contest for junior high school, high school, and university students, in which each group sets an investment theme and builds a stock portfolio based on the theme. Therefore, the students published a paper that hypothesized that companies that lead Japan to become a problem-solving advanced country through material innovation will improve their corporate value as they contribute to the revival of "Japan as No. 1," and won the Fighting Spirit Award. According to the comments by examiners, the paper’s unique viewpoint was that the solution to Japan's social problems would be found in "materials," which are located upstream in the industrial structure and have a ripple effect on downstream industries. The work was not only unique, but also very convincing as it carefully analyzed the current situation for each issue, considered why it is not resolved until now, and even analyzed the impact on society after construction of the portfolio. The students were also praised for their ambitious efforts, including the amount of their field work.

Paper summary 
As a developed country with many challenges, Japan's economic society faces many serious challenges. Recognizing that Japan's current situation, which appears to be a weakness at first glance as a “problematic advanced country", is an opportunity, we are focusing on the three social issues of “super-aging society," “natural disasters," and “resource/environmental constraints," identified as material issues through materiality analysis.
If Japan resolves these three issues domestically and internationally, it will not only be able to remove the factors that are greatly inhibiting domestic economic growth, but also help other countries that will face many of the issues that Japan is currently facing. Thus, Japan will be able to establish future international standards. In this way, Japan has the potential to change from a “problematic advanced country" to a “problem-solving advanced country."
Now that Japan's efforts to solve social issues are reaching their limits, is there a way to overcome them? In this paper, we found the solution in "materials." Materials, which are the basis of the final product, have the ability to fundamentally solve these three issues, and because they are located upstream of the industry, they have a ripple effect on other industries. Furthermore, since the materials industry is a major strength of Japan as a core industry, it is possible for Japan to innovate from materials and solve social issues. While the efforts of downstream industries are reaching their limits, "materials" can realize the revival of “Japan as No. 1” by taking center stage instead of working behind the scenes. Materials have been the source of Japan's hidden strength from the days when Japan once achieved a brilliant success. In order to select companies that will lead to the realization of this hypothesis, we created the Material Innovation Fund (MI Fund), which consists of 20 stocks of material companies and user companies that utilize those materials, through a five-stage screening process. In addition to demonstrating the economic value of this fund by conducting a risk-return analysis and empirical analysis of corporate value, we also demonstrated the social value brought about by material reform by conducting a social impact analysis on three social issues. We will demonstrate that material reform can solve problems in Japan and the world, and that Japan can shine in both economic and social terms, resulting in true “Japan as No. 1."