The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Preparing for the Global Stage

Young leaders gain insight from top regional executives

By Mary Anne Jorgensen

Recently there has been much discussion on how best to develop young leaders to represent Japan on the world stage. For member companies of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), global operations are a given, and it is critical to have the human resources in place to build a strong organization in Japan and the region.

The ACCJ Kansai Leadership Series directly supports this need, offering promising individuals an opportunity to learn directly from the experiences of successful executives, as well as from each other.

The series of events, hosted by the ACCJ Kansai Women in Business Committee, was originally created around the goal of strengthening the Kansai economy by supporting a new generation of leaders who desire to step up and develop themselves for a global role. During its first years, the program attracted participants from ACCJ Kansai corporate sustaining member companies, reflecting these organizations’ importance to the business community.

The series has since expanded, and now includes participants from 10 ACCJ member companies across Japan. This year we welcomed our first participants from outside Kansai: six of them, from Nagoya and Tokyo.

The Leadership Series is more than simply a set of lectures by top management of prominent organizations. The program format provides participants, who commit to attend the four-part series, ample time to engage with each other and the speakers in breakout discussions on topics related to each presentation.

These opportunities to exchange ideas and create stronger networks across industries and functions are key to the program’s popularity. The series also highlights the importance of a diverse workforce, a key focus of the Women in Business Committee’s activities.

Now in its fourth year, over 178 individuals, both Japanese and non-Japanese, have participated, creating a robust cohort of alumni contributing to organizations in Kansai and beyond.

To encourage and support participants’ development, speakers give presentations on topics related to their leadership journey, touching on the challenges, transitions, and skills they found most useful as they progressed in their careers.

Participant feedback shows very high appreciation of the “informative, practical, and inspiring presentations based on the speakers’ actual experiences.”

Themes from past discussions have included upward influence, following your passion, learning and problem solving by examining evidence, and exploring key skills for Japanese leaders working internationally.

Yumiko Murakami spoke at "What Evidence Can Tell Us," on November 18.

Yumiko Murakami spoke at “What Evidence Can Tell Us,” on November 18.

Speakers to date have included executives of ACCJ member companies, such as the current presidents of Bayer Yakuhin and Eli Lilly Japan, Dr. Carsten Brunn and Patrik Jonsson, respectively, as well as past presidents of P&G Japan and AstraZeneca K.K.

Participants have also enjoyed hearing from speakers outside the ACCJ community, most recently Yumiko Murakami, head of the OECD Tokyo Centre, and Mitsuru Claire Chino, executive officer and general counsel at Itochu.

As the number of “graduates” grows, we hope to support a strong base of upcoming leaders as they guide their organizations to success. We look forward to seeing how our alumni move forward, utilizing their peer networks and innovative leadership approaches to drive growth not just in Kansai, but throughout Japan.

JorgensenDividerMary Anne Jorgensen is a vice chair of the Kansai Women in Business Committee and facilitates leadership training for organizations in Japan.