世界で活躍するグローバル・リーダーを bimonthly (隔月ごと）にYGCでインタビューしていきます。全て英語でインタビューを行いますので、是非最後まで頑張って読んでいきましょう！
- Can you tell us about your job?
I am the head of Tokyo Centre of the OECD. On behalf of the OECD, I lead economic policy discussions with our stakeholders in Japan and Asia, including governments, business community, academia, civil society as well as the media.
- What kind of projects do you work on for the OECD?
We carry out a wide range of activities at the OECD; essentially we work on all topics relevant to economic development and policies. Our analysis for macro-economic policies are perhaps best known but there are many other highly regarded projects. For example, PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment) is the international survey to evaluate educational systems worldwide by testing the knowledge and skills of 15 year old students in over 70 countries. This is a very useful project which helps many countries develop effective human resource/talent development strategies. Another example is the BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) project. BEPS are tax avoidance strategies which corporations use to exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules in order to artificially move profits to low or no-tax locations. Through this project, the OECD has been developing new international tax guidelines which promotes a level playing field for all companies in all countries.
- What is the best part of your job?
One of the most important elements for me is personal growth. I have experienced 3 different professions – development/aid positions with the United Nations, Investment Banking in the private sector and now, with the OECD. In each of these professions, I have been tremendously fortunate that I found countless opportunities to learn new things daily through work. To be able to experience personal growth through expanding one’s knowledge, one gets much more satisfaction from work than only financial remuneration.
- To become a global leader, is there anything you feel you should have learned or anything you are happy you learned as a student?
I am grateful that I had opportunities to study overseas. My academic experiences at Stanford and Harvard helped me build a strong foundation to successfully work and make contributions in leadership positions in a global context. I would encourage young people to seek opportunities to study in different countries in order to expand their horizons. I did not study overseas until I finished college in Japan. I think I would have learned even more had I studied in a different country at a much younger age. If opportunities are available, I recommend that younger students, high school or even junior high school students, study abroad.
- What are advantages and disadvantages as a Japanese when working with people from different countries?
It all depends on the person but if I were to generalize, I would say one of the advantages for Japanese is a mind-set and skill set customized for team achievement. In Japan, we are taught to work in a team environment effectively. People are willing to go very far in the name of collective good, even if it requires personal sacrifice. This attribute can be very useful when trying to harmonize a working environment comprised of people from different value systems. This advantage, however, could also work against the Japanese. It is a double-edge sword because Japanese people are typically hesitant to distinguish themselves individually and speak up when a solution is needed. The reserved nature of Japanese people can at times make them invisible and their voices unheard. If you are very quiet, you cannot make contributions!
- What kind of challenges have you faced when working abroad?
My first job out of school was at the United Nations. They sent me to countries which I had never heard of. I lived in Barbados and I worked on projects in Grenada and St. Vincent as a UN development officer. They are small island nations in the Eastern Caribbean. After the Caribbean, I also worked in Cambodia with the UN Peace Keeping Operations. Working in these ‘exotic’ countries, one of the most difficult challenges was existing in an environment where my own common sense was not compatible with the common sense of my host countries. It took me a long time and many painful errors to modify my natural instincts and behavior and adapt to the local working environment.
Physical hardship in developing countries is also something many Japanese people would find hard to get accustomed to. In Cambodia in the early 90s, for example, running water and electricity was still scarce and risks to personal security were high in the aftermath of the civil war. Personally, my need for mental adjustment was more of a challenge than physical hardship. Using candle light in the absence of working electricity was challenging, but it was more difficult for me to truly understand the mindset and expectations of the local people I worked with in these countries. I experienced many frustrating miscommunications and misunderstandings with my colleagues but in a long run, I learned valuable lessons. Eventually, these experiences gave me the ability and skills to adapt to new and unknown environments.
- What kind of skills are required to work for international organizations, other than English skills?
At the minimum, near native fluency in English (preferably one more language) and a master’s degree is required to join most international organizations. These organizations typically recruit specialists and not generalists. Thus, it is important to have strong expertise in a field which is relevant to the international organization you are applying to. There are many fields you can specialize in, such as environment, education, public health, finance, trade, etc etc…..
- What made you want to work overseas in the first place?
As a child, I was always curious about cultures and languages of other countries. When I went to the US for my studies, my interest and curiosity was cemented and I started to look for job opportunities outside of Japan. Luckily, I landed a job with the United Nations.
- Do you have any role models? Any leader figures you look up to?
- Do you have any role models? Any leader figures you look up to?
I have come across many strong leaders throughout my life who I have learned from and have much respect for. I don’t think it is easy to identify one perfect leader that you can look up to. Rather, I try to learn different leadership qualities from different people.
- What do you think we should do in Japan to promote future global leaders?
I believe the Japanese education system needs to focus more on critical thinking as well as communication skills. Japanese students have very high level of academic performance. But they tend to be behind other countries when it comes to critical thinking and communication. They are among the most important skills in order to succeed in international careers.
- What are the major differences between the private and public sectors in terms of skills required?
I switched careers between the private and public sectors and I realize my career path was very unusual in Japan. In Europe and the US, however, it is more common for people to navigate career paths across both the private and public sectors. The Trump Administration, for example, has hired a number of my former colleagues from Goldman Sachs.
Obviously, there is a great deal of difference in terms of culture between the private and public sectors. The stakeholders and time horizon are also different. However, international organizations such as the OECD hire private sector professionals with expertise in certain areas, which contributes to the overall talent pool of the organization.
- Do you have a message for students who are interested in pursuing international careers?
I hope young students in Japan take more risks. I would also like to tell them that it’s ok to fail. As long as they learn a lesson or two from their failures, the risks are absolutely worth taking. Nothing ventured is nothing gained!