Keep Growing by Experimenting with New Ideas

After moving from Japan to the US, Yoshimi Iyadomi Shinohara founded the US subsidiary of Persol Holdings in 1996. Today, it is the world's #6 staffing firm with $10 billion in revenue and is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (2181.T). Yoshimi grew the company both organically and through numerous acquisitions. 

After decades of growth, Yoshimi’s focus shifted to technology transformation. Her goal has been to transform the recruiting and staffing industry to be more sustainable and scalable with dramatically improved matching quality and operating efficiency using AI/ML (Machine Learning). Yoshimi has also built startups like HERO Software and RIZE Global, and has been actively investing in startups in the fields of the Future of Work.

Yoshimi loves working with entrepreneurs and startups and assisting them in unleashing their potential and achieving their dreams.


Iroha : What projects are you currently working on? What have you most recently completed or plan to do in the near future?

Yoshimi : As focusing on transforming the recruiting and staffing business with technology, I came across a very exciting opportunity to expand these efforts to all types of businesses globally.  I am a co-founder of the D^3 (Digital, Data, and Design) Institute at Harvard Business School led by Professor Karim Lakhani. As a result of rapid technological change driven simultaneously by digitization and AI and Machine Learning (ML), the world is facing dramatic upheaval. D^3’s mission is to (re)invent how companies and organizations compete and thrive in this new world and to educate the next generation of leaders to lead them. 

Iroha : What are your thoughts regarding Asian hate and Asian glass ceiling issues?

Yoshimi : I’ve experienced the glass ceiling for women, especially in Japan. This is one of the reasons I chose to live in the US. I have been fortunate not to experience overt anti-Asian bias in my personal and professional life, but I know many friends and colleagues who have.


Iroha : Based on your background, do you have any advice or a message for young people who want to follow in your footsteps?

Yoshimi : Don’t fear making mistakes and always try to learn something from them. Mistakes are the opportunity for exciting new findings and growth. Keep growing by experimenting with new ideas. Get rid of the word “shame” from your vocabulary. It only makes you afraid to try something new. Build a habit of thinking on your own rather than depending on learning from others all the time. You are unique and the situation surrounding you at the current moment is never the same as anyone else’s.

Iroha : Outside of work, what are you most interested in right now?

Yoshimi : Traveling the world! Building meaningful relationships with people. Completing the challenge of a half marathon with my colleagues, friends, and family in 2023!

written by Jessica Woolsey

Persol Holdings