The panelists: (L-R) Ms. Sasaki, Mr. Romaine, Mr. Yonamine
On July 7, American and Japanese delegates of the 2016 TOMODACHI-Mitsui & Co. Leadership Program attended a panel discussion with USJC members and supporters. The panel was part of this year's program, which is guided by the theme of "Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership." It was the final event of the program for the U.S. delegates, but for the Japanese participants, it marked the beginning of their memorable journey.
The panel consisted of three accomplished entrepreneurs: Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors Paul Yonamine (Country General Manager and President of IBM Japan), Council Leader Janelle Sasaki (Executive Director of Diversity & Inclusion Services, Ernst & Young Advisory Japan), and Mr. Matthew Romaine (CEO of Gengo).
Designed to be an interactive space for the panelists and delegates, most of the discussion was dedicated to Q&A. The panelists and delegates explored innovations, new technologies and industrial developments in the context of U.S.-Japan relations.
The delegates' questions included: comparisons of the work environment between the United States and Japan, cultural and personal challenges the entrepreneurs experienced in their careers, and societal challenges Japan could improve upon in the future.
A delegate poses a question
All the panelists agreed that, in both Japan and the United States, they look for employees with passion. Passion is key. Hiring those who want to serve customers and make a difference is advantageous to companies. Ms. Sasaki further explained that "being a change agent and a game changer is important; you have to like and thrive on change."
The panelists also spoke about the importance of strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, and inspired the delegates with comments based upon their own experience living in both countries.
The delegates left with a wider network, valuable entrepreneurial advice, and greater motivation towards bringing the United States and Japan even closer together.