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July 2015 FEW Meeting Recap: FEW is YOU!

July 16, 2015 FEW Meeting: FEW is YOU!
Speakers: Megumi Moss, Elizabeth Okada, Dr. Marcy N. Wilder, Faith Yanai

Moderators: FEW Japan Program Directors Sabine Becker-Thierry & Katharina von Tschurtschenthaler

Networking and leadership skills, business cases and examples are among the main reasons, why YOU attend our monthly FEW meetings – as shown in our membership survey results. That’s why our July meeting was called “FEW is YOU“, held on Thursday, 16th of July: an evening that combined networking and success stories from FEW members. As a kick off, four FEW members were sharing their professional and private experiences, followed by open networking.

The outcome of the night became quite clear: It’s all about having a good and broad network.

Funnily enough that one of our speakers, Megumi Moss, initially had joined FEW two years ago to grow a network. It was just when she had decided to set up her own business: CareFinder, a babysitting service to connect eager babysitters with parents. Creating her own company came when her corporate job got busier and busier and she also realized that there wasn’t any such babysitting service available in Japan. Back then, Megumi also did not have a network outside her company – so she joined FEW to catch up with fellow entrepreneurs and businesswomen. “I also wanted to find mentors“, Megumi explains. “Because for me there are two things that matter when it comes to a successful business: the idea which stands behind and the people you work with.“

Connections – including those of her husband – opened doors for Elizabeth Okada. She works as an Executive Coach and Leadership Development Facilitator. She got her first coaching assignments through her former company, when the family moved from Japan to China. While there, she also got more and more clients through her husband and work connections. This pattern also helped when the family moved again from China to the Philippines. Whenever she was looking for new clients after having moved countries and wanted to be introduced to the person in charge, Elizabeth experienced that, without being referred by someone, she hardly could step a foot into that company.

Being a woman on top did not make that easier – that’s something Dr. Marcy N. Wilder experienced, when she moved to Japan 28 years ago. She is a Senior Research Scientist with the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), an Associate Professor in the Agriculture Sciences Department at the University of Tokyo, and has been instrumental in developing Japan’s first Indoor Shrimp Production System. She still remembers how she was declined her first job in Japan: “We never had a female researcher.“ Point. End of discussion. Things have gotten better and the country’s gender equality goals are helping, but science is still a men’s world with only eight percent of the researchers in Marcy’s department being female.

A very personal inside view into Japanese society was offered by Faith Yanai. Faith is – among other things – an art expert married to a Japanese. When love brought her to Tokyo 28 years ago, she didn’t know what to expect. Which was probably better – because what she got was living with her mother and sister in law under the same roof for nine years. Tough times for her, as she reflects on the first years of her marriage. In the beginning Faith was not allowed to leave the house by herself – too dangerous – let alone be allowed to work. What would the others think? It was only when she met an American woman who became her closest friend (and who she still calls her lifeline) that she realized how much she had missed being with someone of her own culture and to be connected to it.

After all very often personal networks become professional ones: Elizabeth Okada met one of her first clients on the rugby field when she was attending her son’s game.

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