The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


January 2014

Celebrating Super Dads
Spending more time with your daughter can be a positive contributor to their success

By Elizabeth Handover

Having previously reported in this column on some of the super senior women leaders in Tokyo, I wanted to start 2014 with a celebration of some unsung heroes: the super dads who have invested extra time and care in raising their daughters.

John Nylin, foreign service officer at the U.S. Department of State, hopes his two daughters will grow up to be productive, multi-cultural contributors to society. He believes in being as supportive as possible; encouraging and pushing but never dictating their future choice of profession.

Nylin decided to send his older daughter to an international girls-only school that has a wide intake of nationalities and a diverse environment where “all the kids are inclusive to each other, no matter what culture.”

Jonathan Kushner, ACCJ Governor and managing partner Japan of Kreab Gavin Anderson, hopes his daughters—aged 12 and 10—will lead happy, confident, fulfilling, and successful lives. Kushner wants them to manage successfully in an overseas environment, and be able to meet any future challenges.

Georges Desvaux, managing partner of McKinsey & Company, Inc. Japan, has three daughters who are young adults. Desvaux hopes they will build meaningful professional lives based on their strengths and aspirations.

“Do well in what you like to do. Build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses so they are not a hindrance. Embrace your strengths and make them distinctive,” he said.

All three fathers share their work experiences whenever possible. “I share any fun opportunities,” said Nylin.

“My older daughter remembers meeting President Obama when she was small. I involve my kids in embassy events whenever possible and they have met Ambassador Kennedy.”

Kushner believes it is important to share what he does so his daughters are interested and can understand why he is so busy.

In addition, he shares with them his successes and difficult experiences.

According to Desvaux, co-author of McKinsey’s diversity report, Women Matter, his daughters were present—when possible—when he spoke about the publication. Further, he takes them to office events so they can see what he does and take pride in his achievements.

“When I meet exceptional people like [managing director of the International Monetary Fund] Christine Lagarde, I tell my children about why that person is remarkable; that it’s her character or her aspirations,” he explained.

Further, he regularly invites his daughters to events and dinner with colleagues and guests to show his children that work is about having positive experiences where you meet many different people and do interesting things together.

In regards to building confidence, the dads believe it is vital to expose young girls to as many experiences as possible, including competitive sports, debate, and performing arts.

“The Olympic sports champion Yuko Arimori said at a recent ACCJ event, ‘you can accomplish anything if you set your heart on it.’ I believe this is the most inspiring message to give young girls,” said Kushner.

“Encourage girls to participate in something they are passionate about and do it seriously—in both the professional and personal arena,” said Desvaux.

The dads believe a positive and impactful contributor to a daughter’s success is to spend as much face-to-face time as possible with them.

“Put the BlackBerry away and have quality time with them. However important your role in your company, it is not as important as your family,” said Nylin.

“Be there. Be engaged, focus on them and, even when you’re busy, show them that you care. Try to expose them to many different ways to connect and communicate with others,” said Kushner.

Desvaux believes it is important to talk with them about what they’ve done and to find out their views on their experiences. “Help them to recognize and be proud of their strengths. Tell them to ‘be your own person.’ Encourage them to reach high and reassure them that you’ll be there to help them,” he said.

Dads: make your top resolution for 2014 to spend more time with your daughters. Be a super dad. It could be the best investment you ever make!

ElizabethDividerElizabeth Handover is co-chair of the ACCJ Women in Business Committee and president of Intrapersona K.K., Lumina Learning Asia Partner.