The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

By Adam Baylis and Sara-Elly Shimabukuro, co-chairs, ACCJ Young Professionals Forum

By Adam Baylis and Sara-Elly Shimabukuro, co-chairs, ACCJ Young Professionals Forum

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) formally established the Young Professionals Forum (YPF) earlier this year to help develop the next generation of US–Japan and ACCJ leaders. The group welcomes members who are 35 years of age and younger, and invites them to attend peer-led programs, including regular mentor sessions, training, and networking activities. We would like to provide a platform for young professionals to create new connections with peers and senior business leaders alike.

So far this year, the YPF has hosted a number of events including the YPF Kick-Off Networking Event in April, and mentor sessions hosted successively by Tim Brett, representative director and president of Coca-Cola (Japan) Co. Ltd.; Peter Jennings, president of Dow Chemical Company Japan and Korea; and Matthew Franklin, representative director and general manager of Cummins Japan Ltd. These events have been incredibly popular, with some being fully booked in less than 48 hours.

The YPF has also provided a great platform for like-minded young professionals to engage socially and to get more involved in all of the other great activities the ACCJ has to offer.

What are young professionals gaining?
The YPF aims to build professional and leadership skills, deepen the understanding of the US–Japan bilateral relationship and the ACCJ, provide meaningful informational exchanges, and create opportunities for young professionals to thrive inside and outside the ACCJ.

Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Young professionals rarely have a chance to meet peers from other industries or gain direct exposure to senior executives and mentors. With the YPF’s attractive slate of events and activities, we have seen the young professional membership segment grow steadily, supported by the ACCJ’s six-month YPF Entrance Fee Waiver Campaign, which ended in August.

Why is senior management support important?
It may be challenging for young professionals to attend events without the support of their company’s management. Leaving the desk during lunchtime or early evening to attend an ACCJ event may not be part of a given corporate culture. Support and encouragement from managers and leaders, therefore, is a determining factor that allows young individuals to develop important soft skills and build their network.

Many young professionals may also not be immediately aware of the benefit of being part of professional business organizations, or they may lack the confidence to join or be active in certain ACCJ committees with more senior members.

It is crucial that senior ACCJ members identify suitable young professionals within their organizations and act as sponsors or mentors by providing them with the tools and opportunities that high-profile professional business organizations such as the ACCJ have to offer.

Upcoming events for young professionals
The YPF will arrange activities with an exciting lineup of inspiring mentors, including Sachin N. Shah, chairman, president, and CEO of MetLife Insurance K.K.; Bret Dandoy, deputy president and chief operating officer of Deutsche Securities Inc.; and Sarah Casanova, representative director, president, and CEO of McDonald’s Company (Japan), Ltd.

A special mentoring and networking event, co-hosted by YPF and the Women in Business Committee, will be held on October 4. The event aims to connect young professional women with more experienced professional women to provide them with a unique opportunity to meet potential mentors in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

The Chairs of the YPF welcome your continued involvement and look forward to meeting new YPF members as the initiative grows.

The YPF aims to build professional and leadership skills