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For the past two years, leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Young Professionals Forum (YPF) in Chubu have been working to provide more events for the chapter’s younger members. The initiative that has seen the most success is our YPF Mentorship Series.

Goals
Inspired by the Kansai Leadership Series, the YPF Mentorship Series was originally started to provide an intimate event for our younger chapter members. A secondary goal was to engage ACCJ Corporate Sustaining Members (CSMs) that have offices in Nagoya but have no active members in the Chubu chapter. We hoped the series would engage these members and get them more involved in the chapter.

Format
The five-part series comprises four lunches and one session designed specifically for networking. At each lunch, a different executive talks about their experiences in a small roundtable discussion of no more than 10 attendees. To identify candidates to participate in these closed events, YPF leaders within the Business Programs Committee reach out to CSMs to see if they are interested in nominating a talented staff member who is on the management track.

In each of the first two years of the Young Professionals Forum Mentorship Series, one seat has been reserved for someone who is known to be considering joining the ACCJ but has not actually applied. In this regard, the event is used as a recruiting tool for young new members.

Focus
Each luncheon centers on a topic picked by the speaker, who talks for about 30 minutes and answers questions for 15 minutes. Attendees communicate with the speaker while all are eating, and they are also encouraged to ask questions during the open talk. This has increased engagement from attendees compared with other formats. The questions asked so far have mostly been about how to progress in a career and avoid pitfalls along the way.

For the final networking event, we invite all speakers and ACCJ Chubu leaders to attend. Many attendees become members by the end of the series, and meeting the leadership provides another opportunity for them to engage with the chapter, which can get them interested in joining a committee.

Results
After the first series, we had four attendees join the ACCJ. One of these not only became a YPF leader on the Business Programs Committee, but ended up running the 2019 lineup. This year’s series has yielded one new member as of mid-June and is expected to bring in two more.

In last year’s satisfaction survey, 86 percent of attendees rated the event good or better. They also reported loving the chance to interact with successful executives and get hints on how to better their careers. As one attendee wrote, “The speakers really spent time getting to know us and tailoring their stories and experience to our interests.” This year’s report was not available when we went to press.

If you are interested in sending someone to attend the next Chubu YPF Mentorship series, or would like to volunteer to be a speaker, please reach out to the Chubu Young Professionals Forum through the Chubu Business Programs Committee at chubu@accj.or.jp

Mark Hosang is chair of the ACCJ-Chubu Business Programs Committee and chief information officer at Translation Business Systems Japan.