The TOMODACHI Generation: Next Generation Leaders Shaping Our Future

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



  • Emcee: Laura Winthrop Abbot, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, U.S.-Japan Council
  • Moderator: Todd Guild, Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company (Tokyo Office)
  • Discussant: Lata Reddy, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion & Impact, Prudential Financial, Inc.; Chair and President, The Prudential Foundation
  • Juan Hernandez, TOMODACHI MUFG International Exchange Program (2013) and TOMODACHI Daiwa House Student Leadership Conference (2018) Alumnus
  • Mio Kakuchi, TOMODACHI Summer SoftBank Leadership Program (2015) Alumna
  • Toshiko Kudo, TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program in America (2016) and TOMODACHI ADA25 Lead On! Program (2016) Alumna


The emcee, Ms. Winthrop Abbot, introduced the TOMODACHI Initiative with a video.

Mr. Guild took the stage, and he began by introducing the panel of three TOMODACHI alumni regional leaders, Ms. Kakuchi, Mr. Hernandez and Ms. Kudo. He also introduced the discussant, Ms. Reddy.

Mr. Guild asked Ms. Kakuchi what inspired her to do what she did in TOMODACHI. Ms. Kakuchi replied that she participated in TOMODACHI because she wanted to have friends outside of school. Engaging with the people in TOMODACHI inspired her to help and support people under stress. Mr. Guild directed the next question to Ms. Kudo by asking her about her experience with TOMODACHI in Washington, DC. She answered that she was grateful to learn about advocacy for people with disabilities in the United States. She explained that her experience gave her confidence and motivation to become a leader. Mr. Guild asked Mr. Hernandez to talk about the cross-cultural development of leaders. Mr. Hernandez explained that what makes a good leader differs across cultures. Actively listening and understanding cultural differences will help people become favorable leaders anywhere they go.

Mr. Guild said that being a TOMODACHI alumni comes with a sense of commitment, and asked the panel what TOMODACHI means to them. Mr. Hernandez answered that he was touched by the bond that was created between him and his Japanese host family. TOMODACHI also empowered him to take the initiative to accomplish his goals and dreams. Ms. Kudo responded that networks and support have continued to be the most valuable aspects. Ms. Kakuchi replied that she values learning from different people and gaining confidence.

Mr. Guild then brought Ms. Reddy into the conversation by asking her what she looks for in hiring young talent. Ms. Reddy described that employers are looking for employees who are navigating the grey areas. Technical skills are important, but they look for critical skills such as flexibility, resilience, teamwork and leadership. Mr. Guild asked how companies can operate effectively in this changing world. Ms. Reddy answered that it is important to create an environment for people to thrive in, and that HR systems need to evolve and support business strategy. Mr. Guild asked Ms. Reddy why she invested in TOMODACHI. Ms. Reddy replied that TOMODACHI promotes what society and business need, and that she wanted to invest in young people because they are the future.

Mr. Guild asked the emcee, Ms. Winthrop Abbot, where she sees TOMODACHI in the future. She answered that organizations are looking for young people who are globally minded and take risks. So TOMODACHI invests in getting young people to take risks, go abroad, and do things that they would not normally do. It focuses on areas where they can make a big difference, such as in women in leadership or leaders with disabilities. She wants TOMODACHI to be more than a one-time experience, and wants alumni to stay engaged. Giving back to the community is a theme TOMODACHI will continue to implement.

To conclude the events of the day (November 8, 2018), Ms. Winthrop Abbot went back to a poll question that was posed that morning: what is the best way for the United States and Japan to build a sustainable future together that benefits both countries and the Asia Pacific region? The participants answered that it is to invest in young people.


Click here to see the video of the session.