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が記載されていますので、是非最後まで頑張って読んでいきましょう！
- Would you please share with us, how you reached your current position and career after graduating from university?
My graduation was during the Japanese bubble economy era. It was the year when the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was implemented; thus, I assumed that career prospects for women within the workforce would improve with openings in career-track positions and that I could find employment in such positions right away. Unfortunately, due to a sudden illness, I lost the opportunity to join a Japanese firm from which I did received a job offer.
After recuperating, I obtained a position at a U.S. wireless communications and electronic systems manufacturer, Motorola Inc., enabling the opportunity to utilize my English skills. I was assigned to the product sales and telecommunications division where interactions with overseas clients were required, a working environment in which I thrived and felt very much fulfilled as an employee. This led me to pursue a career in the ICT domain. At that time, the U.S. was investing in technological innovation while juggling with the Japan‐U.S. Trade Friction, Plaza Accord, and the High-Yen Era.
In my opinion, being able to work in an environment that promoted equal opportunity to succeed for men and women was an element distinctive of foreign-invested companies and was definitely a factor in my advancement within the corporation. Had I worked at a Japanese firm, I believe would not have had such opportunities. The accumulation of my experiences in such an environment has shaped who I am today.
- What are your thoughts on the Japanese education system?
I believe there are many benefits to be found in the Japanese education system. But one significant thing that is fundamentally missing is the cultivation of critical-thinking skills. In English-speaking nations, education focuses on discussion-based learning activities such as case studies and encouraging students on how to approach problems from various perspectives. On top of that, students have opportunities to gather information from many different sources in order to formulate and express their opinions. The Japanese education system focuses on regulating individuality and establishing a group mentality. Though there are some positive aspects in the Japanese educational policy, and given the fact that we each have our own original ideas, I believe that we should have an education system that does not emphasize a singular notion, but instead embraces originality and individuality.
- As the CEO of BT Japan and a professional in the realm telecommunications and information technology (IT), what are your current thoughts on the ever developing Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
With our “internet-of-things” (IoT) creating a society that emphasizes efficiency, utilizing AI has become a significant factor in terms of comprehending data (in a limited field). Women have benefited from this by gaining leeway over domestic work and in turn, having increased participation in the workforce. With technology continually making our lives more convenient, we must not take this increasing free time for granted. We should be using this opportunity to further better ourselves.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that AI can only comprehend data deciphered from programs such as CISCO routers and Microsoft Windows. While we may replace many of the skills and techniques we have developed over time with technology, it is ultimately humans that continually need to take the steps in accomplishing further greatness. Accordingly, I believe that the key to living in today’s society is maintaining our human essence while taking advantage of AI.
Humans are essentially animals that absorb information from multiple sensory inputs. Big data has come to dominate our perception of the world. But in order for the human race to thrive in an AI- dominated world, we must cultivate the essentially human qualities that differentiate us from computers.
- During the ‘Asahi Shinbun Challenge Forum’ (http://www.asahi.com/ad/c-forum2018/), you stated that it is crucial for educators to cultivate their students’ individuality. How can teachers change their principles in order to achieve this?
I believe it starts with the educators expanding their horizons. Children today are seized within a paradigm that adults have devised. Children grow and expand their perspectives by being free from the media-driven world, exercising their own freedom and widening their scope of actions. I would advise educators to give students a supportive push forward in exploring the world by themselves. The reality is that many adults and educators have yet to experience other parts of the world. Before educating the children, it would perhaps be necessary for those at the forefront to explore new places and attain some spiritual growth.
- Do you hope for more children to go abroad?
I do not think that going overseas is the universality, nor do I believe there is a reason for children to not go abroad. That being said, expanding one’s perspectives by traveling to a foreign land is no doubt an exciting experience, and I would encourage and love for our children to travel as much as possible. I enjoy meeting and communicating with people from different places and cultures, and I strongly urge young students to travel abroad to gain firsthand experience in cross-cultural interactions. This in fact activates one’s ‘big data,’ enabling them to become proactive. To achieve this, an education that allows children to think and act spontaneously and make decisions by themselves should be provided. Additionally, students will continually need ongoing support from their educators as they progress down the path of a never-ending quest of learning.
- Your profession has long been in engaged in sales and marketing. Do you still enjoy interacting with people through sales and marketing?
I absolutely love talking with people. When it comes to sales the product is not as important as the fact that I simply enjoy the interaction with others. Simply put, I believe life is all about sales and marketing. The countless experiences of expressing myself to others through sales have brought me to this current stage in my career: administering and managing an enterprise through my organizational will.
- Our English standard is secondary compared with other nations. How do you think we can change English education in Japan? How do you think we can solve this issue?
Generally speaking, I believe it is important to focus on students’ free will and provide an environment that stimulates their interests. As for English education, we need to prioritize practical learning over theory. Additionally, I suggest that students make friends from around the world and that when studying English, to have a higher purpose other than simply getting good grades. Most importantly – in order for students to attain a higher English proficiency – teachers should work on conducting classes that are engaging and fun.
- You mentioned that you have realized the importance of ‘mindfulness,’ something that is at the heart of the Japanese spirit. Moreover, you also mentioned that the fundamental mentality that traditionally characterized Japan – harmony – has been altered in recent times, elevating ‘coordination.’ In what ways can we reinstate the beneficial aspects of ‘harmony?’
The Japanese education system has a tendency of systematically regimenting students which I believe is the result of our country’s historical backdrop. After World War II our citizens had to unite under a single common goal of resurrecting this country while also carrying out economic expansion. Unfortunately, one aspect of Japanese culture that continues to be an obstacle is that instead of exploring different opinions and perspectives and then using this new experience to progress, we are all compelled to fit into a fixed paradigm. In spite of that, we are living in an era where the mindset of globalization and diversity is sought after. With that in mind, a modernized frame of harmony can be created by nurturing a system that is open to accepting unconventional opinions and ideas.
- Who do you respect as a global leader?
The person I truly respect is Fusae Ichikawa, an activist who accomplished the goal of women’s suffrage. Currently, those who succeed in accomplishing their individual goals leave a strong impression. It’s important to keep in mind that every period has its undertakings as a reaction to the adversities of each respective era much like that of Ms. Ichikawa, and that there are pioneers who have paved the way for our generation and future generations to live the way we do. Taking all of this into account, I believe the time we are living in is simply an accumulation of all the missions our predecessors have accomplished.
- What are some of the difficulties (if any) that you have experienced while working overseas or dealing with people in an international context?
In my experience of working for a Japanese subsidiary of a foreign-investment firm, I felt there was a certain lack of transparency. When it came to politics, regulations, occupation, and business manners, there was a lack of concrete reasoning behind decisions regarding all of those issues.
Additionally, though Japan maintains a sizeable market share there were many times I noticed a sharp contrast between the Japanese and foreign markets which is why I believe that solving the lack of transparency and the gap between them is the key to further advancement.
I also strongly advise expanding your network on a global scale as much as possible. Until now, Japan was reluctant to accept foreign cultures and races. However, now that the country has been generating much interest and attention, establishing a balanced relationship and equal footing on the global stage is a matter of concern. To overcome the issues of differences and transparency, I encourage more interaction between the people of Japan and the international community.
- A message to future potential ‘global leaders’:
There are three factors to succeeding in the global world. The first is to think about how to make as many friends from all over the world as possible. The second is to never forget the human touch and emotions surrounding all things innovation and reliance on AI. And, the third is to unquestionably and responsibly utilize advanced technologies and innovation.
Creating a social platform that makes the most of human potential and obtaining new insight while coexisting with people of different backgrounds and opinions are vital tasks that global leaders cannot ignore. The world we live in is changing at an alarming rate. Thus, utilizing innovation and empowerment in the right way is more important than ever before.
Furthermore, as long as you have your health, I advise that people should constantly gain new experiences. Use your free time productively and follow as many paths your life provides. These experiences will shape your character in a way that attracts others. This is something I have believed strongly throughout my career. In all my interactions, I have come to the realization that each person’s personality, aura, and perspective all stem from their individual experiences. Everything you have ever encountered and endured in your past further develops your future-self.
- Your goals and prospects as a woman in leadership
As I look back on my leadership style and development that I seemed to have fumbled like a rush construction work, I am now undergoing management studies at the University of Oxford’s Graduate School for the purpose of preparing myself in pursuit of my next professional endeavors. Here, the most prominent exclusive group of professionals from over 30 nations gather at the world’s oldest university which professes that, “the future world leaders are groomed at Oxford.”
At Oxford, I plan to undertake Diversity Management and its Economic Effects as my research topic. I especially would like to delve into the realm of the economic growth impacted by women advancement and empowerment in society and their roles as part of an organization’s growth strategy. As a business manager myself, I secretly plan to formulize and standardize my professional beliefs and experiences so that they become the global business management virtue (lol) !
Just as the many other business leaders I have met – whom I take my hat off to – at Oxford, I also aim to devote my time here to fully utilizing available technology and applying myself diligently through being a good scholar and a warrior as we advance to the new heights. In a time of 100-Year life expectancy, I am still at the turning point in my life and I intend to put forward my best effort.
Being appointed as the co-chair from Japan, as our country serves as host nation for the Women 20 (W20), has been such an honor. W20, one of the G20 engagement groups comprised of women leaders from G20 countries in public and private sectors, establishes to make recommendations on the world’s gender equality issues to G20. This would be an opportunity to introduce some of the finest women leaders from around the world to our country and like the Black Ship of the Meiji Restoration, this conference could be the beginning of a new era for women. The year 2019 would no doubt be the beginning of a great momentum!