“What does Connect mean to you?”

TOKYO

NAME

Melanie Brock

FUNCTION

CEO at Melanie Brock Advisory Ltd.

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“The theme Connect is an important issue to consider, especially relevant in these tricky times.  I have benefited greatly, professionally and personally, from a range of people who ‘connected’ me to various people. I make it a point to return the favour by connecting people where I can, as a sign of gratitude to those who have connected me at different times.

However, what I have learnt about connecting and being connected, is that unless the connection is genuine or at least undertaken in an authentic and honest way, it simply won’t work. The Japanese word for connection: ご縁 seems to describe more elegantly the notion of connections… perhaps we should introduce it into the English lexicon!

It’s all about timing and knowing when and how to connect. Preparation cannot be under-estimated.  I am proud of my ‘connection’ history and strive hard to make sure I am doing the right thing but once, when I was invited to provide some detail about a connection I wanted to make, for myself, I decided to leave it until the actual meeting.  This proved to be a misstep. I thought I would have a better chance of explaining my need for the connection but in fact, what I had done was take away the chance for my meeting interlocutors to take some time to consider.  Putting them on the spot, and not allowing them time to think and discuss ahead of their meeting with me was my mistake. Lesson learnt.”

NAME

Yoko Ishikura

FUNCTION

Professor Emeritus, Hitotsubashi University

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“The world and people have means to communicate with each other, regardless of nationality, gender, age, background, physical location and expertise and collaborate to make the world a better place.

After I worked as management consultant and taught business strategy/competitiveness at graduate business schools, I realized I am much more interested in design and design thinking.

As I wrote about design related matters on my blog, I got to know more people in the field. I was asked to moderate the ideaslab session at Summer Davos with technology and design experts. Through these connections, I was offered a job at the faculty member at Keio Media Design. I had a wonderful (though sometimes quite challenging) time there. I loved the exposure to technology, design and architecture etc. I learned there.”

NAME

Yasuko Ogawa

FUNCTION

General Counsel, NN Life Insurance Company Ltd.

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“‘Connect is the key for success.’

I read an article written by Dorothee van Vredenburch who was in management board of NN Group a couple of years ago when I joined NN Life. She said that connecting purpose, people and performance is at the heart of good leadership while staying authentic.

At that time, one of my subordinate was not confident about her skill and qualification. Especially, her previous boss kept telling her she did not have to understand the purpose of her duties but just obey and do what was told to do. She was very demotivated and almost quitted the company. After an intensive interview with her, I found out that she wanted to do more.

I expanded her job scope a little by little with explanation of the purpose and background. Her job scope was only filing, scheduling etc. when I joined, but after 1.5 years, she became in-charge of corporate registration matter, intellectual property registration, reviewing/draft simple contract and even the main member for some of big projects.  I only try to know her capability (what she was good at) and explain the details of the purpose and the background of her duties and constantly provide the feedback about her performance. She has become one of the most important members in my team now and it’s a great joy to watch your team member grow and enjoy what she does.”

NAME

Kaori Sasaki

FUNCTION

Founder & CEO, ewoman, Inc.

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I have pursued a theme of Connect throughout my career. Connecting and being connected is what I believe many women are strongly in need of.

I founded The International Conference for Women in Business, which just celebrated its 23rd year. The aim of the Conference is for highly motivated people from both Japan and abroad to spend time together, inspire each other……”to connect”.

The day of the conference every year is filled with opportunities to share a strong determination to succeed.

Developed in a similar manner, I have just established “THE BOARD”, a premier membership club for the female board members and executives of the public corporations and entrepreneurs, aiming to provide the prospects to grow together for the better outcome.

NAME

Cecile Eijsink-Bonnier

FUNCTION

Representative at Houthoff

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“Connecting is something we do in different ways. Each of us, in our lives, we have gone through changes and have had the challenge that we needed to connect with a new group of people. Or with a new place.

I was thinking of one of my children – my youngest. He is a very shy person. When he first went to school, he was so afraid to enter his class room each morning. I would bring him to school, and there he would cling to my legs and hold on with all his power. He would not let go. And I needed every trick I had to make him release and with help from his teacher

get him to move over the threshold into the class room. As I then turned around to leave, I would always hear him from the class room cry out to me… “Mamma! mamma!” Every morning, it broke my heart.

His fear to join the other children is possibly not rational, but it is real. And though I know characters are different (my other children are totally not shy) we may all sometimes have a sense of unease when we enter into a group where we do not know any one. As adults, we can tell ourselves: this is normal. We need time to connect. And then things will be easier.” Click on read more for the sequel.

NAME

Kyoko Tollenaar

FUNCTION

Counsel at Houthoff

PRACTICE AREAS

Capital Markets
Corporate / M&A

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“I interpret the idea of connecting in different ways. I have a connection with the team I work with every day and there are connections within the team. Then there’s the connection between me or the team and the rest of the organisation. There is also the connection with my clients and professional relations of relationships. Mostly non-work related experiences from the past contribute to how you feel connected and how you connect with colleagues, clients and professional relations. Because of my personal background, I also think of the connection between different cultures.

As the daughter of a Japanese mother and a Dutch father, this plays an important role in my life. How do you respect and strike a balance between two different cultures? In my role as a legal adviser my experience of having to balance two cultures can add value. In practice it means that I can more easily identify with the client and the business culture relevant to the client.”

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