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Darden Students Visit 2019

On May 13th, our CEO Shiro Sakamoto invited MBA students and a panel of experts from his alma mater, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business to e-Jan.
The panel—consisting of Welby’s Takeru Hiki, Manabi’s Masa Otsuka, and Shiro himself (photo above)—answered questions from facilitator Marc Modica concerning the challenges of establishing a company, leadership styles, and intercultural differences between Japan and the West. Particular emphasis was put on the Japanese concept of Nemawashi (根回し), a way of slowly building trust and consensus before a project can move forward.

Yoko Ishikura (photo above), Darden graduate and Emerita Professor from Hitotsubashi University, continued with a lecture titled “Where is Japan in 2019?”. Topics gripping the entire world today, such as economical uncertainty, technological disruption, and changes in mindset were followed by unique challenges to Japan: ageing, the relatively low working productivity per hour compared to other countries, and needs for certain skillsets that are scarce in an isolated country. Yoko concluded the talk by introducing “Society 5.0” as a way to resolve these issues with new developments in infrastructure, finance tech, healthcare, logistics, and artificial intelligence.

The students from Darden (photo below) listened attentively and participated with enthusiasm during the questions-and-answers session after each topic. For most of them, it was their first time in Japan, and they were excited to learn about the differences to their own culture. A commonplace phenomenon, the 5 p.m. bell (5時のチャイム), which signals the end of school every day and tests the emergency broadcast system, unexpectedly led to bewilderment and excitement.

Finally, a reception was held at Tony Roma’s Sanbancho (photo below). Food and drinks were followed by speeches from various participants and the topics from earlier were discussed in a relaxed atmosphere. After a smoothly executed and successful event, we are looking forward to welcoming the Darden students again next year!

By Bernd Hollerit
email-address:hollerit.bernd (at) e-jan.co.jp

•The University of Virginia Darden School of Business
•Yoko Ishikura
•Japan’s ‘Society 5.0’ initiative is a road map for today’s entrepreneurs
•Tony Roma’s
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