Sixteenth Business Advisory Board Meeting Welcomes Dr. Sachiko Kuno

Dr. Sachiko Kuno, President and Chief Executive Officer, S&R Foundation, addressing the audience

The 16th U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) Meeting was held at the Tokyo American Club on March 13, welcoming Dr. Sachiko Kuno, President and Chief Executive Officer of the S&R Foundation, as the featured speaker. More than 60 leaders from different sectors and fields gathered to listen to Dr. Kuno’s speech.

Member of the USJC Board of Directors Scott Sato opened the event by welcoming new and returning BAB members and USJC members, followed by remarks from BAB Chairman Masaaki Tanaka, who is also Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors.

New BAB members then introduced themselves, showcasing the diversity of USJC and BAB membership. Mr. Kazushi Ambe, Executive Vice President, Sony Corporation; Dr. James Kuffner, Chief Executive Officer, Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development, Inc.; and Ms. Yuko Yasuda, Managing Director, Russell Reynolds Associates Japan, Inc. briefly discussed their careers and their passion for strengthening U.S.-Japan relations.

Representative Director of the USJC Board of Directors Royanne Doi highlighted recent USJC activities, including the 2018 Annual Conference in Tokyo and the 2019 JALD Delegation’s recent visit to Kumamoto. She also welcomed four TOMODACHI alumni in the audience, encouraging the BAB attendees to meet and network with these next-generation leaders.

Dr. James Kuffner, Chief Executive Officer, Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development, Inc., addresses the audience

Dr. Kuno began her talk by discussing her youth in a small town in Yamaguchi Prefecture, raised by parents who always encouraged her education. Although she enjoyed academia, she began looking towards entrepreneurship as a way to use new medical discoveries to create “first-in-class” pharmaceuticals.

The success of her first two startups made her consider ways to deliver these new medicines to the developing world, inspiring her next “impact-oriented” startup that focused on creating low-cost vaccines to improve global health. Dr. Kuno has also founded startup incubators to encourage risk-taking and innovation, and spoke about the importance of supporting female entrepreneurs. She closed by encouraging attendees to act boldly, and to create and support businesses that consider not only profits but also social impact.

Following her talk, audience members were eager to ask questions. Two TOMODACHI alumni asked about finding business partners and building startups as women. Dr. Kuno encouraged them to seek out those with different backgrounds, and to remain confident in their own abilities at the same time.

TOMODACHI alumna Fatoumata Bah asks a question

After her speech, Dr. Kuno met with attendees and answered individual questions, as the guests enjoyed networking over food and drinks.

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