Social Innovation and Changemakers

The following is the summary of a breakout session that was part of the 2018 Annual Conference.


  • Yukiko Araki, Corporate Officer & Executive General Manager, Sustainability Promotion Division, Hitachi, Ltd.
  • Martijn Dekker, Vice-President, Strategy & Portfolio – Projects & Technology, Shell
  • Fran Heller, Founder & CEO, Good2Go
  • Keiko Ihara, Race Car Driver; Independent Director, Nissan Motor Corporation
  • Yumi Tomei, Former Olympian, Soccer; EY Women Athlete Business Network (WABN)


Ms. Araki

Click here to see the video of Ms. Araki’s presentation.

Ms. Araki briefly gave the background of Hitachi and explained their mission that they aspire to fulfill, which is to contribute to society through the development of superior, original technology and products. The founder of Hitachi, Mr. Namihei Odaira, wanted to contribute to society and that motivated him. At the time Mr. Odaira started Hitachi, Japan imported machinery, so repair shops were needed. Thus, Hitachi was created to repair machinery, which reflected Mr. Odaira’s desire to contribute to society. Employees of Hitachi respect Mr. Odaira and that correlated to the phrases Mr. Odaira wanted Hitachi to embrace; harmony, sincerity, and pioneering spirit. Ms. Araki explained the essence of these terms and aimed the focus of her talk towards harmony. Harmony is a very unique spirit of Japan. Mr. Odaira expressed that harmony does not mean absolutely no quarrels, but it should be a sense of understanding of opinions and acceptance, and then people working together to reach goals which they decide and agree on. Ms. Araki explained that many Hitachi employees who work abroad also embrace these terms. To touch on what was said earlier, Gannenmono, bonds between people are vital not only between countries but also in companies.

Changing the topic, Ms. Araki noted that Hitachi contributes to SDGs through social innovation business. Large companies bring about social impacts, and Hitachi has social responsibilities. In particular, Hitachi is proud of pursing SDGs, and instruction from the top down to reach these goals is needed. In addition, she mentioned that Society 5.0 is an aim for Hitachi. With the aim of realizing Society 5.0, Hitachi has been introducing renewable energy and promoting clean energy by, for example, realizing low carbon mobility of a smart railway system. To conclude her presentation, Ms. Araki emphasized that collaboration and competition are important to create new value. The future is open to suggestions the world can change with new ideas, but people need to be open.

Mr. Dekker

Click here to see the video of Mr. Dekker’s presentation.

Mr. Martijn Dekker, Vice-President, Strategy & Portfolio – Projects & Technology, Shell explained Shell’s pathways that the future can move towards by describing a net zero emissions world where no CO2 is put into the atmosphere. A tripling of energy efficiency, an end to deforestation, only electric vehicles, the electricity demand being met by renewable energies, and substantial technology advances are needed for the future.

Mr. Dekker spoke on how technology can make big environmental impacts. For example, digital technology can help the delivery of retail goods by delivering hundreds of packages in a short amount of time. Shell has recently invested in a startup that is working on this issue. Another area where technology can make a big difference is using biofuels in internal combustion engines. Shell is engaged in projects to create biofuels, and creating viable biofuels from garbage is getting close. Shell has opened a demonstration plant in India which creates jet fuel from organic matter. Another area where technology can take a role is in taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. If we want to get to net zero, we have to take CO2 out of the atmosphere. It happens naturally, such as by planting trees, but engineers can achieve the same thing by storing it underground. Mr. Dekker’s final point touched on the fact that there is no single solution. Change needs integration from a lot of solutions. It is technically possible to achieve net zero, but it will require action from government and society, and they need to work together.

Ms. Heller

Click here to see the video of Ms. Heller’s presentation.

Ms. Fran Heller, Founder & CEO, Good2Go introduced her application that locates restrooms in cities. She emphasized the ridiculousness of physically searching for a restroom even with all of the technology that is in the world. For decades, this area has been untouched and ripe for innovation. Good2Go uses IoT to create smart spaces. Ms. Heller played a video showing different features of the app including virtually waiting in line, and using a sensor to open bathroom doors. The idea behind the app is to make the network of restrooms a digital network in order to make finding and using a restroom easier. Good2Go does require the participating shops to upgrade to water saving and sensor features. Ms. Heller explained the feedback from retailers which use Good2Go, and it has been very positive because retailers do not want to use inconvenient analog methods, such as handing a key which is attached to a giant spoon to the customer, when they are trying to modernize, make their facilities comfortable, and have good user experience. Feedback from the customers has also been positive especially among travelers. Good2Go has developed a mobile restroom unit to use in areas such as farmer’s markets, park events, etc. Good2Go is collaborating and exploring partnerships with a Japanese startup that provides a wearable device that notifies people when they need to use the restroom if they have a medical condition in which they need that support. Good2Go is exploring with Hitachi how their smart technology can be integrated into other smart spaces. Lastly, Ms. Heller explained that Good2Go is working with Toyota to convert their mobile unit into an autonomous vehicle to create a type of delivery restroom. Good2Go has ideas for other smart areas such as in parking garages that use technology to eliminate the need of paper tickets. Basically, they want to utilize technology to help everyday needs and improve the quality of life.

Ms. Ihara

Click here to see the video of Ms. Ihara’s presentation.

Ms. Keiko Ihara, Race Car Driver; Independent Director, Nissan Motor Corporation was introduced and explained her background. She explained how she wanted to become a racecar driver when she was younger, so she started by getting a driver’s license, working a part-time job to save money, and started motor sports at the age of 25. She became a champion in her first year because she had strong determination. In order to be a champion, she was told to be able to adapt flexibly to many different situations. She retired from motorsports because she became ill from the intense physical stress of racing. After racing, she got married and started a cram school for children in her home. She realized that children have a lot of potential and importance for the future. The children of her cram school revitalized her, and she eventually healed. After her recovery, she went back to motorsports. She changed her approach to racing by living in a sports science laboratory and utilized music, muscles, and aroma. Ms. Ihara explained that she realized communication with her teammates, engineering, and staff were vital to succeeding in the Le Mans race. She also mentioned that the act of driving is very complicated as a human action because of all of the judgements are being made it a short time. Her race car had sensors which take different measurements in order to change settings to adapt to the environment, and racecars use IoT to do this.

Ms. Ihara described a project called the Women in Motorsports Project, which she started. In this program, she recruits women who want to work in the racecar industry. Now, more and more women are engaged in motorsports in Japan. In her closing statement, Ms. Ihara emphasized that communication and diversity with a lot of people is very important in fulfilling ones lives.

Ms. Tomei

Click here to see the video of Ms. Tomei’s presentation.

Ms. Yumi Tomei, Former Olympian, Soccer; EY Women Athlete Business Network (WABN) began her presentation by discussing the power of athletes. In order to be a successful CEO, the first thing an individual should do is to become an athlete. For example, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook used to be a fencing star. An Ernst & Young survey showed that over 90% of female top management used to play sports. There is a nice transition between sports and business. However, in Japan, there is a huge obstacle for the athlete-to-CEO path.

Ms. Tomei elaborated on why athletes make good business people by highlighting that athletes have grit to persevere through difficulties, resistance to stress, and the ability to strategize. Athletes transitioning from the sports world to the business world is important for Japan, because if that does not happen, then Japan would lose valuable resources.

Ms. Tomei explained that her transition to the business world was not an easy one. So she changed her career path, and went back to university, in which she was not successful. After reflecting on why she lost her abilities to succeed after her soccer career, she realized that athletes have a basic mental incapability if there is no clear goal to work towards. She failed in business because she did not correctly set goals. Ms. Tomei concluded her presentation by expressing that many Japanese athletes after retirement cannot set their goals right, so they fail. If athletes cannot set goals, then they cannot grow. The lack of objective setting is the reason why athletes do not have a smooth transition to business. Another important factor is having support from those around you. With these, many athletes can move out of their pitfalls.