Japan Day 1

The first official day of the Global Ambassadors Program in Japan kicked off as we welcomed 11 Global Ambassadors and 11 mentees in Tokyo. Participants introduced themselves, their organizations and the challenges they’re hoping to overcome together with their mentors.

Hiroko Tatebe, one of six daughters raised in a conservative Tokyo family, left home at 18 to pursue an education in California. “I didn’t think being a woman was a disadvantage,” she said, looking for opportunities Japan wasn’t offering at the time.  

After a successful career in banking, she followed a deeper passion – developing women in business and entrepreneurship, through the Global Organization for Leadership and Diversity (GOLD). Her goal this week is to work with her mentee, Keiko Koda, president and CEO of AsMama, to build her business, an online childcare matching platform for working mothers.

Keiko’s work is grounded by personal experience juggling work and a new baby, saying, “Each one of us can create a society where everyone can realize his or her own way of parenting and work. We want a society where we can live.”

Meet mentee Natsuki Tanaka, founder and president of Advantage Inc., a chain of English language schools in Japan:

She will set goals and develop an action plan with her mentor, Deborah Finley Conver, a government and corporate affairs expert who will help with expansion strategy and human resources.

Trainings today focused on communications – public speaking, iPhone photography and basics of social media. One exercise asked mentees to think about their lives 20 years ago, and the advice they might give today to themselves at that time.

For Natsuki, “I would tell myself to study more because I didn’t realize learning is an ongoing process throughout your life.”

Read our first Japan blog and follow us this week in Japan. Be sure to tweet questions to @VitalVoices and @BofA_News using the hashtag #GlobalAmbassadors.

Image: Tamae Takasu, Deborah Finley Conver and Satoko Kono practice their elevator pitches.

Photography: David Hume Kennerly