Hiroo Okamoto, CFO of i-PRO

Hiroo Okamoto is a highly experienced and proficient Chief Financial Officer in the corporate finance world. He has more than 25 years of professional experience, and currently serves as the CFO of i-PRO. Throughout his career, Hiroo has held various positions in prestigious organizations such as Amkor Technology Inc. and Morgan Stanley. His expertise lies in mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, and corporate finance.

Reflecting on his journey, Hiroo attributes much of his growth to the collaborative spirit of his peers. “I have always had the fortune to work with very talented people,” he remarks. His career trajectory, from a global consulting firm to investment banks, has equipped him with a profound understanding of the global landscape, enabling him to bridge cultural and linguistic divides within his teams.

Transitioning from the world of investment banking to corporate executive, Hiroo found himself drawn to the allure of making pivotal decisions in the real business world. “I started to consider a possible career change to corporate executive,” he shares, citing a desire to move beyond advisory roles and immerse himself in strategic decision-making. This transition culminated in a unique opportunity to serve as both the executive of corporate development at the company’s headquarters and the CFO of its Japanese subsidiary—a challenge Hiroo embraced wholeheartedly.

At i-PRO, Hiroo leads the global finance team, spearheading initiatives to drive business growth, fortify financial governance, and foster stakeholder communication. Additionally, he oversees the corporate team, comprising functions like HR, legal, and IT, underscoring his multifaceted role within the organization.

Founded in 2019, i-PRO is a stalwart in advanced sensing technologies, with a legacy steeped in over six decades of innovation through Panasonic. With a focus on Intelligent Surveillance, Public Safety, and Industrial/Medical Imaging, the company’s products, software, and services empower professionals worldwide to capture critical moments and safeguard communities.

As Hiroo navigates the dynamic landscape of global finance, his vision extends beyond the bottom line. With unwavering commitment, he endeavors to shape i-PRO’s trajectory, aligning financial strategy with the company’s mission to create a safer, more secure world.

Fostering Global Cohesion

Hiroo is a master at managing global finance. He leads i-PRO’s finance team, which is spread across various regions such as the US, EMEA, APAC, China, and Japan. Hiroo believes in fostering collaboration and unity among his team members, and he makes sure that everyone is included and valued. “Our finance members are scattered all over the world,” Hiroo acknowledges. Yet, despite the physical distance, he strives to cultivate a shared sense of purpose and belonging. Central to this endeavor are core values embodied by i-PRO’s corporate motto: “Flexible, bold, and trust.”

Embracing these principles, Hiroo is relentless in his pursuit of fostering career growth and development among his team members. “Career development of finance members is paramount,” he asserts, highlighting the personalized approach he adopts. Through regular one-on-one communication, Hiroo empowers his team to set and conquer ambitious goals, nurturing their professional evolution.

An “open-door policy” serves as the cornerstone of Hiroo’s leadership philosophy. Accessible and approachable, he welcomes input and feedback from all finance members, ensuring their voices are heard and concerns addressed. Whether through chats, online meetings, or face-to-face interactions—facilitated by his commitment to visit each location, even those outside of Japan—Hiroo fosters an environment of transparent dialogue.

Recognizing the importance of effective communication, Hiroo adeptly navigates diverse formats to convey messages and glean insights. “Communication format is key,” he emphasizes. By tailoring communication methods to suit the preferences and needs of his team members, Hiroo ensures clarity and understanding prevail.

Moreover, Hiroo champions a culture of collaboration beyond the confines of the finance department. Encouraging his team to share valuable analyses and insights with other divisions, he cultivates a culture of mutual appreciation and recognition. “I encourage all finance members to provide other divisions with valuable analysis and information,” he affirms.

Nurturing Alignment

As the CFO of i-PRO, Hiroo recognizes the pivotal role of cohesion among four key players: the HQ management team, HQ finance team, regional management team, and regional finance team. “I sometimes have difficulties getting finance members aligned,” Hiroo concedes. Particularly, he notes that team members based outside of Japan often grapple with remoteness, stemming from limited communication channels. Understanding the criticality of alignment in executing i-PRO’s strategy amidst uncertainty, Hiroo maintains an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders at all levels.

Central to Hiroo’s strategy is the cultivation of open communication channels between headquarters and regional entities. By fostering dialogue between the HQ and regional management teams, as well as their respective finance counterparts, Hiroo endeavors to forge a unified front. “It is quite important for all four players to be aligned,” he stresses.

Furthermore, Hiroo recognizes the significance of interpersonal dynamics in fostering understanding and collaboration across borders. Encouraging finance members based in Japan to proactively engage with their counterparts abroad, he emphasizes the importance of building rapport and familiarity. “I always encourage finance members based in Japan to keep and enhance communication with those members outside of Japan,” Hiroo affirms.

Harnessing Growth Opportunities

Within the realm of corporate strategy, Hiroo champions Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) as a potent catalyst for i-PRO’s expansion. He envisions M&A as a strategic avenue to propel the company’s growth trajectory. “I believe Mergers and Acquisitions should be one of the powerful tools to grow our business,” Hiroo asserts. With a keen eye for opportunity, he remains poised to capitalize on fortuitous M&A prospects that align with i-PRO’s strategic objectives.

Drawing upon his wealth of experience and expertise in M&A activities, Hiroo stands ready to contribute to i-PRO’s growth agenda. “I should be able to contribute to i-PRO in reviewing potential opportunities from a financial perspective,” he affirms.

Central to Hiroo’s approach is the meticulous analysis of potential transactions, informed by his deep understanding of financial intricacies. Leveraging his expertise, he adeptly crafts optimal transaction structures and negotiation strategies, ensuring favorable outcomes for i-PRO. “I will also be able to leverage my expertise in coming up with an optimal transaction structure and developing negotiation strategies,” he notes.

Moreover, Hiroo emphasizes the importance of assembling a cohesive deal team to navigate the complexities of M&A transactions successfully. Drawing upon his extensive network within the M&A community, including investment banks and professionals in legal, accounting, and tax domains, he ensures the formation of a capable and synergistic team. “It is quite important to set up a solid deal team for successful conclusion,” he highlights.

Elevating the Role of CFO

In Hiroo’s view, the role of the Chief Financial Officer extends far beyond traditional finance functions—it encompasses strategic partnership and holistic support for organizational leadership. As CFO of i-PRO, Hiroo is steadfast in his commitment to serving as a trusted advisor to the CEO, bridging personal and professional realms to foster deeper understanding and collaboration.

“I believe CFO should be a strategic advisor to the CEO,” Hiroo emphasizes. Recognizing the importance of forging a strong rapport with the CEO, he prioritizes open dialogue on both personal and professional fronts. “I always try to keep dialogue with our CEO regarding private matters such as hobbies, favorite foods, wines, and vacation plans,” he shares.

Through these conversations, Hiroo seeks to cultivate a deeper connection with the CEO, enabling him to provide more nuanced and tailored support. “I should be able to share who I am with him and have a better understanding of who he is,” he explains.

Moreover, Hiroo views the CFO’s role as extending beyond the executive suite, encompassing a broader mandate to empower and elevate the finance team. “I am also trying to maximize the performance of finance team members,” he asserts, recognizing the pivotal role they play as strategic partners to business unit leaders.

By instilling a culture of support and collaboration within the finance team, Hiroo endeavors to emulate his own relationship with the CEO—a symbiotic partnership built on trust, communication, and shared goals. Through this approach, he embodies the essence of strategic leadership, elevating the CFO’s role from a mere custodian of finances to a proactive enabler of organizational success.

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