Chandler Macleod Group (CMG) CEO and Managing Director Shinya ‘Shin’ Yamamoto has dedicated his life and career to getting the best out of people. Having grown up on a small central island in Japan, Shin noticed an increasing demand for a staffing business to cater to the region’s many manufacturing hubs. “The best asset in any organisation is its people, so I was drawn to the human resources industry because it provides the maximum contribution to both individuals and the enterprise,” he notes.

With the intention of one day launching his own employment agency, Shin started by learning from the best. While working for Staff Service Group, one of Japan’s largest in the field, he deepened his understanding of people management and the recruitment process. “The company had a great culture of promoting its people and providing management opportunities for those who performed well – regardless of gender, age or length of service. It was unique to find that sort of company in Japan at that time.”

Shinya Yamamoto, CEO and Managing Director of Chandler Macleod Group
Shinya Yamamoto, CEO and Managing Director of Chandler Macleod Group

When the business was acquired by Recruit Holdings, the fourth-largest staffing firm in the world and owners of employment search engine Indeed, Shin joined the Merger and Acquisition team in Tokyo and London to expand its staffing business operation globally. It was during this process that it successfully acquired CMG. Realising its potential, in 2015 Shin joined the business and became its Chief Corporate Administrative Officer, responsible for improving business performance and ensuring strong governance. Last year, he was appointed CEO and Managing Director.

For almost 60 years, CMG has been in the business of improving productivity through people. Its solutions equip organisations with the tools and personnel needed to achieve sustainable and profitable growth, regardless of economic cycles. “Our core purpose is to unleash the potential of individuals, teams, clients, candidates and organisations,” Shin notes. CMG is one of the largest employers in Australia, with an international network spanning New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Fast facts:

Shinya Yamamoto’s best business advice:

  • Value your people – they’re more important than the CEO
  • Give simple directions
  • Look carefully at what you should stop doing
  • Focus on improving your own performance before becoming a leader

People power

“I’m excited to announce that in February next year, we’ll celebrate our 60th birthday,” Shin says. “The Group now includes a large Staffing Services business, two specialist services – in hospitality (AHS) and health care (Vivir) – plus a payroll solutions company, Aurion,” Shin says. “Staffing Services is our largest Australian business unit and focuses on four national sectors – mining, construction, government, and transport and logistics; and four operational specialisms – trades and labour, engineering and technical, business support, and IT and digital.”

“I’m excited to announce that in February next year, we’ll celebrate our 60th birthday.”

Also under CMG is Australia’s first organisational psychology business, Chandler Macleod People Insights, which has led the market since 1959. “By merging new technology and proven behavioural science, our BestFitTM psych assess model offers customers more than 150 assessment options,” Shin explains. “The Aurion payroll team generates more than six million pay notices, worth A$33 billion annually for our customers, while our AHS hospitality business services a staggering 10 million hotel rooms each year. In health care, Vivir provides more than one million pain relief treatments each year – a number that will only grow with Australia’s ageing population.”

In nurturing these thriving businesses, Shin has put an emphasis on increasing autonomy and encouraging an ownership mindset. CMG is run according to Unit Management, where each unit is run by an individual unit manager, or ‘mini CEO’, who provides in-depth service at a local level. “This approach inspires our people to be strong leaders with creative, action-oriented mindsets, while also allowing for timely decisions to be made on the ground.” Shin realised the Australian business had a unique opportunity to drive diversity and inclusion by increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation across its own workforce, as well as that of its clients.

“Over the past 18 months, we have been committed to improving the socio-economic circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through education, employment and training,” Shin explains. “I am proud to say that three per cent of
our 29,000 employees identify as Indigenous Australians, and we have assisted many more indirectly into employment.”

Shinya Yamamoto, CEO and Managing Director of Chandler Macleod Group

A winning culture

CMG has distilled its culture into four core principles that form the foundation of every decision it makes – empowerment, respect, ownership and doing the right thing. “Culture is something you can’t force people to change overnight, but it’s something you can build and foster steadily. It’s the sum of people’s day-to-day experiences in a working environment and a perception of the company’s direction,” says Shin. “Even asour business grows and changes, our core principles remain unchanged and are proudly displayed on every office wall to give new and existing employees, clients, and candidates a sense of who we are.

“Even as our business grows and changes, our core principles remain unchanged and are proudly displayed on every office wall.”

“While some people might leave the business, they often return as a more experienced asset. We make it clear that even if you decide to move on, for whatever reason, you are always welcome back. This philosophy is unique to a small number of organisations and I’ve been lucky to witness it in action here many times.”

While the recruitment industry is constantly affected by new regulations and technologies, Shin says the fundamental significance and core purpose both remain the same. “It is all about helping people gain meaningful employment and providing organisations with a smooth user experience for talent acquisition and productivity improvement,” he explains.

“To keep up with these changes, we need to continually evolve in this age of digital connectivity. Over the years, I’ve witnessed the introduction of online job boards, the advancement of Applicant Tracking Systems and professional online networks, and the growing importance of employer branding. Disruption and consolidation is inevitable, and while the process will remain the same, it’ll be faster and better.”

To lead this change, Shin believes in having a simple vision and giving clear direction. “Too often, leaders create a strategy with so many twists and turns that the complexity causes confusion. If you ask your people to do 100 things to make a big change – a decision that might be based on ego rather than adding value to the organisation – it will kill the natural creativity of your people. You have to refine the process and let your people do their best work.”

Shinya Yamamoto on leadership:

“I have worked with many great leaders around the world, and I have merged their knowledge with my own learned experiences. What I’ve found is that a good leader is a simple and logical thinker. They have steadfast principles and they are always ready to take responsibility. I believe in having a strong will to succeed and being committed to contribute to society throughout my working life.”

Shinya Yamamoto, CEO and Managing Director of Chandler Macleod Group

Setting up for success

While each CMG business unit works towards its own short-term and long-term goals in their given sectors, the Group’s overarching goal is to become the top human resources solutions provider, in both revenue and profit, across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“Financial goals always factor into the equation, of course, because without sustainable and healthy financial conditions our customers, both individuals and businesses, wouldn’t be delighted each day with our service,” Shin notes. “But to truly reach this goal, we have to be front of mind for our clients and job seekers, so each day we focus on attracting and growing the best people in the market.”

In this mission, Shin draws inspiration from American philosopher and psychologist William James, who said: “Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

“This quote speaks to me because it’s true; no one can achieve success without positivity in their mind. Positivity brings you more empathy and insight, which leads to creativity and better service. Better service results in growth, and growth helps society to flourish – it’s all about the positive cycle,” Shin explains. “There’s no greater pleasure than watching someone soar above even their own expectations.”