Turning a profit in one of France’s biggest automakers sounds like quite a challenge. Buying Japan’s third-largest automaker and running it simultaneously as you pull it from the depths of financial peril sounds tougher.
Being the translator for the man who has to do it all, serving dutifully for the last 12 years, sounds like it might just be the greatest challenge of all.
Meet Yuki Morimoto, perhaps the only person who knows as much about Nissan’s goings-on as its CEO, Carlos Ghosn.
Earning a degree in English at Kobe College in Japan, Morimoto stumbled on translating as a profession by chance. She once worked as a Kobe-based pharmaceutical company and had an impromptu translator session when introducing her South African boss—a session that didn’t go so well. She then went back to school in Osaka to better learn how to translate, landing at Nissan in 2001 after impressing Ghosn.
“It was smooth,” she said. “Well, I mean, at least I didn’t screw up.”
And that was that. Ghosn hired her the day after her first translating job with Nissan.
Since then, Morimoto has traveled the world with Ghosn, explaining Ghosn’s messages in Japanese. The Nissan CEO is already schooled in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Japanese might be a bit of stretch to pick up next.
What makes Morimoto unique is that she’s often considered a rockstar of translators in Japan, a venerable chameleon of the passion and enthusiasm Ghosn exerts when he speaks. She even mimics his gestures to the point that when Japanese executives feel Ghosn’s wrath, they often get a two-for-one deal, getting the same scolding in two languages.
Morimoto simultaneously translates for Nissan’s Ghosn, a challenge of listening to him and interpreting his words without skipping a beat. But Morimoto’s apparently doing a good job at it, earning herself the opportunity for the outside world to look into her job. Of course, her job is very intertwined with the CEO of Nissan’s, too.
“When we go on these business trips in Japan, I’m following him everywhere except for the restroom, I feel very comfortable, close to him. And I hope Mr. Ghosn feels the same.”
Nissan via YouTube