NTT DoCoMo, Inc.
NTT DoCoMo is one of the world’s largest mobile communications operators and Yutaka Nakamura has headed its legal function since 1999. During that period the company launched i-mode, the world’s most popular mobile internet platform, and FOMA, the first 3G commercial mobile service. As an executive committee member, Yutaka takes an active role in strategic decisions-making. He previously served as a senior counsel at leading Japanese manufacturer JFE Steel for 12 years. GC’s Catherine McGregor spoke to him to find a bit more about his career and what he likes about his role.
B U S I N E S S T H I N K I N G
GC: Did you always know that you wanted to be a lawyer? Why did you become one?
Yutaka Nakamura (YN): In my early teen years, I was watching a Japanese TV drama featuring a diehard lawyer whose mission was to protect human rights. That was my first inspiration to become a lawyer as a profession.
GC: What made you first want to go in-house?
YN: When I was studying law in Japan, I initially wanted to enter private practice and join a law firm. But I happened to meet some people working for a corporate legal department and I found the way they spoke about their roles to be very attractive and interesting. This eventually led me to go in-house.
GC: What’s the best thing about working at NTT DoCoMo?
YN: NTT Docomo’s main business field is in the middle of IT technology. It’s such a fast paced sector that after almost 10 years serving as the General Counsel, I still face new challenges every day.
GC: What’s your favourite part of your day at the office?
YN: Meeting and listening to people in my team, and watching how they grow.
GC: What’s your least favourite part of your day at the office?
YN: Attending some meetings that just seem endless.
What has been the highlight of your professional life so far?
YN: Among many opportunities, I was involved in the several multi-billion dollar M&A deals for NTT DoCoMo in early 2000. In the period 1999-2000, I was probably the lawyer who represented the most high-profile M&As in Japan.
GC: What legal issues / challenges have you got coming up on the horizon over the next few months?
YN: Protection for privacy: As new business models using “big data” come out, we must seek new boundary for balancing the protection of individual privacy with promoting new business.
GC: How much do you outsource as a team, and how much do you keep in-house?
YN: We keep the most of our legal work in-house, except for litigation.
GC: What do you expect from an external lawyer?
YN: Not only expertise in particular law field, we also ask our external counsels to develop “win-win partner” relationship with us, and weigh in with their deep understanding of our business.
GC: What are you reading at the moment?
YN: A classic book on “Yi Ching” (A book on Law of Changes)
GC: What’s your favourite film?
YN: Cinema Paradiso
GC: Finally, if you weren’t practising law anymore, what would you be doing?YN: As a big music lover, I would want to become a professional musician.
- Editor's Letter
- Inside GC: Executive Summary
- A dangerous game of bluff
- From client to colleague
- Harvard thinking
- How to be Chief Executive of your own career
- Rules of engagement
- The 5-minute financial analysis
- The third way
- The world's greatest management thinker: Clayton Christensen
- What I wish I'd known: moving in-house
- What's your IP strategy?
- Where are all the lawyer-CEOs?
- Whistleblowers and the in-house lawyer