Sir Alan Parker reflects on his father’s love for the country as Brunswick opens its first permanent Tokyo office.
When my two partners and I founded Brunswick 35 years ago in the kitchen of my parent’s home in London, the idea that Brunswick one day would grow to 27 offices on six continents was only a dream. At that moment, we were simply scrambling to find and afford actual office space.
But from the beginning the idea of working and having an office in Japan was in my mind, placed there by my father Sir Peter Parker. After his chairmanship of British Rail and various other companies public and private, my father was offered the UK Chairmanship of Mitsubishi Electric. This was in 1984 and part of his long passion for Japan and its culture.
My father had been stationed in Japan immediately after the war, and while there he formed a profound connection to the culture of Japan that lasted all his life. He learned to speak Japanese. He never stopped marveling at Japanese resilience following the war.
“I keep remembering the evidence of their startling energy and discipline that was showing through the rubble,” he wrote in his 1989 memoir, For Starters. “Where there is a national will, that is the way, and it was the national will that recreated Japan post-war.”
My father brought this passion home to England and to our family, where it ran very deeply in our household and was instilled in me. A former student of management at Cornell and then Yale, my father became an early student of Japanese management, realizing that it bore a lot of valuable lessons for the West. After his Chairmanship of Mitsubishi Electric UK, he served as the UK Chairman of Japan Festival 1991, a massive UK-wide event celebrating Japanese culture.