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Tokyo's Waseda University Honors Cognex CEO With Building Dedication
Cognex Corporation Posted 03/14/2002
NATICK, Mass. & TOKYO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 13, 2002--
Robert J. Shillman Tells Audience that Creating More Entrepreneurs is the Way to Solve Economic Crisis in Japan
Robert J. Shillman, the Chairman and CEO of Cognex Corporation, the world's leading supplier of machine vision systems (Nasdaq: CGNX), was honored by Tokyo's Waseda University, which yesterday dedicated a new academic building and entrepreneurship program in his name.
The dedication ceremony of the 10-story Robert J. Shillman Hall, which is located near Waseda's Okubo campus in downtown Tokyo, celebrated Dr. Shillman's business success in Japan and recognized his recent multi-million dollar gift to the University.
"My gift to Waseda expresses only a small portion of the gratitude and appreciation I feel toward Japan and, more specifically, to the fine Japanese businessmen who helped Cognex to become successful in their land," Dr. Shillman said. "During the past 16 years, I have forged not only business relationships, but also deep and enduring friendships with many of my customers who continue to serve as my mentors."
"Dr. Shillman's gift represents the most generous contribution Waseda has had the privilege of receiving from a non-Japanese person," said Waseda President Takayasu Okushima, LL.D. "Waseda will strive to return Dr. Shillman's goodwill by supporting and nurturing future entrepreneurs. In addition to creating a building in his name, we are delighted to award Dr. Shillman the position of Visiting Professor at Waseda's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies.
"Dr. Shillman's foresight, defiance in the face of difficulty and his spirit of rising to meet the challenge are qualities central to our university's motto, `enterprising spirit,"' said Mr. Okushima. "This kind of project, which nurtures young people on whose shoulders the next generation of businesses rest, will make a great contribution to the development of even closer relations between Japan and the United States."
Speaking to dignitaries assembled for the presentation, Dr. Shillman noted that Cognex's revenue from Japan has averaged more than 40 percent of the Company's worldwide revenue, exceeding even its revenue from the United States. He credited Cognex's success in Japan to lessons that he learned from his customers, and, in particular, to his close personal relationship with them. In particular, Dr. Shillman described the guidance that he received from Mr. Takeshi Yasukumo, a Waseda University alumnus and the former chairman and president of Shinkawa Ltd., one of Japan's leading manufacturers of capital equipment for semiconductor automation.
"Japan has played a significant role in Cognex's success," Dr. Shillman said. "It was through Mr. Yasukumo and Dr. Takeru Ohe of Waseda's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies that I learned invaluable lessons about the Japanese way of doing business, lessons that enabled Cognex to become the most successful supplier of machine vision systems in Japan.
"Unlike the majority of American companies, we were not dissuaded from doing business in Japan by fears of an uneven playing field," Dr. Shillman continued. "Instead, we believed that if we focused on listening to our customers and responding quickly to their needs, we would be rewarded, and that philosophy has served us well for nearly 20 years."
Shillman Hall will house classrooms, offices and research areas for graduate study in international business, science and engineering, and Asia-Pacific studies. The top two floors of the building will serve as the home of the Shillman Entrepreneurship Program, which will function as a business incubation and study center for American companies seeking to learn about the Japanese market, and for Japanese companies seeking to do business in the United States. The goal of the center is to strengthen business ties between companies in Japan and the United States.
"Japan has many entrepreneurs, but it needs more of them," Dr. Shillman told attendees. "The best solution to the current bleak economic climate is to create more jobs. Not just construction jobs but jobs in high-tech or biotech...jobs that can create products that can be exported around the world. And the best way to create new jobs is by creating entrepreneurs."
Unlike entrepreneurs in the United States, entrepreneurs in Japan face certain cultural barriers that must be overcome in order for them to achieve success, Dr. Shillman said. Among those challenges, he said, an entrepreneur in Japan must "be different in a society that values conformity," "be independent in a society that values interdependent relationships," "break rules in a society that places great emphasis on following rules," and "place the success of his dream above other goals." Dr. Shillman continued, "It is my hope that The Shillman Entrepreneurship Program at Waseda will teach students how to overcome those barriers and become successful entrepreneurs."
About Waseda University
Established more than a century ago by Shigenobu Okuma, scholar and government leader, Waseda University is a private, coeducational institution of higher learning with enrollment of approximately 50,000 students. Founded as a college with three departments under the old system of Japanese higher education, it has grown to become a comprehensive university that includes nine undergraduate schools and 10 graduate schools. The school has internationally renowned programs in areas such as Science and Engineering, Law, Literature, Political Science and Economics and Social Sciences. Visit Waseda University on-line at http://www.waseda.ac.jp
About Cognex Corporation
Cognex Corporation designs, develops, manufactures, and markets machine vision systems, or computers that can "see." Cognex is the world's leader in the machine vision industry, having shipped to date more than 150,000 machine vision systems, representing over $1 billion in cumulative revenue, since the company's founding in 1981. Cognex's Modular Vision Systems Division, headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, specializes in machine vision systems which are used for automating the manufacture of a wide range of discrete items and for assuring their quality. Cognex's Surface Inspection Systems Division, headquartered in Alameda, California, specializes in machine vision systems which are used for inspecting the surfaces of products that are manufactured in a continuous fashion, such as metals, paper, nonwovens and plastics. In addition to its corporate headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, Cognex also has regional offices located throughout North America, Japan, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Visit Cognex on-line at http://www.cognex.com.