Concordia Leadership Council member John Koudounis, President & CEO of Mizuho Securities USA, joins us for a question and answer session.
President & CEO
Mizuho Securities USA Inc.
Q: What appealed to you about Concordia as an organization?
Concordia was developed by a group of strong minds who are committed to driving positive change through public/private partnerships. Being in a leadership role in the private sector has given me a new perspective on the importance of collaboration for the betterment of our communities. As a leader, I have the power to influence those around me, and Concordia is a fantastic organization to help utilize that influence for a positive cause.
Q: From your perspective in the financial services sector why do you think Concordia and, more specifically, public-private partnerships are important to long term social and economic wellbeing?
It’s about utilizing and leveraging resources. Public and private entities have different strengths and different perspectives, and when you’re able to bring them together, as Concordia has, it provides a stronger force for good. The financial services sector has a lot to offer in the way of resources, and leveraging those toward a common goal to better our communities is the best way to put them to use.
Q: What is the role of public-private partnerships in implementing social good?
Combining the resources of public and private sectors gives a strong end product, and it’s important to ensure this strength is used for good. Our communities can benefit from the strength of collaboration and helping provide a better tomorrow through teamwork and partnership. This cause is of the utmost importance.
Q: What do you believe the biggest issues facing developing nations today?
A myopic focus in 3-month returns that has led to a cycle of economic growth dependent on the accumulation of excess leverage in the financial system. This single-minded focus on near term returns rather than long-run stable growth has also been a major contributor to the widening income gap affecting the globe.
Q: Tell me a little bit about corporate social responsibility at Mizuho and how you think about creating shared value. Is this a concept that has evolved over time?
The financial sector has a lot of resources to offer, so giving back is very important. Mizuho contributes to a number of charities and provides volunteering opportunities that we strongly encourage our employees to participate in. Every year, we host Mizuho Volunteer Day, which included projects in 35 cities around the world in 2013. These projects range from cleaning parks in low income neighborhoods to rebuilding community facilities devastated by storms.
I actively urge all employees to participate in our various Mizuho Drives; in 2013 we hosted a coat drive to help the less fortunate get through the tough New York winter, a drive for school supplies for underprivileged children and a drive to collect toiletries for the homeless. In addition, we strongly support The March of Dimes, which works to end prematurity and birth defects. In 2012 Mizuho ranked sixth among top corporate teams in New York City.
As a Japanese company, we worked diligently to support our country of origin when the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011. Employees’ donations were matched by Mizuho. Although giving back has always been important, I find it especially important now, being in a position of leadership.