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executive impact

Digital strategist believes female entrepreneurship is future of Japan

By Jeff W Richards

Yuko Nakamura took a well-calculated risk leaving a safe and successful job as an executive headhunter in Japan and moving to Montreal. Wanting to elevate herself and get out of her comfort zone, she had a dream to become an entrepreneur. Montreal, with its great blend of European and North American culture, was the perfect destination. People in Montreal highly regard women with entrepreneurial skills and being Japanese added that intriguing "Je ne sais quoi" quality to the mix that made her stand out from the other executives. She now divides her time between Canada and Japan working with the Akuntsu Digital agency and serving on the CCCJ Board of Governors.

Where in Japan are you from?

Sagamihara, Kanagawa.

What started your interest in Canada? Do you speak English and French?

When I was a teenager, I saw Alegria and dreamt of working for Cirque du Soleil, so I left for Montreal hoping to work with them. Cirque du Soleil are now one of my clients. I am fluent in English and learning French by watching movies (with subtitles) and listening to French music like French singer Charles Aznavour and Harmonium from Quebec.

How often are you in Canada?

I now spend half of my time in Canada and the other half of my time in Japan since we have clients in both countries.

You're currently with the Akuntsu digital agency based out of Montreal and Tokyo. What is your position there?

I’m a senior partner, co-founder and vice-president for strategic operations at Akuntsu. In Tokyo, I am the head of our office. Since day one, I have been working exclusively with executives and decision makers in the sport, entertainment and lifestyle industries.

What are Akuntsu’s brand liaison services in a nutshell?

We essentially help Canadian brands tap into the Japanese market and do the same for Japanese brands looking to go the other way. We believe that in a more globalized economy, there is a growing need for this kind of expertise. Currently, we mostly focus on sport, entertainment, lifestyle and technology brands.

Sum up the biggest challenge about your current position in 10 words or less…

Transitioning a strictly service-based company to a service and product development one.

What is the most innovative digital or mobile project you've worked on at Akuntsu?

Winning the worldwide contest to design the medals for the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games was very special to me. We had to propose a design and get the world to vote for it via social media. From the Top 10 short list, a jury unanimously selected our design. As the IOC president at the time told us: "You have made Olympic history." The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland now displays our design.

You’ve been a member of the CCCJ since 2012. What made you want to join and eventually become a governor on the board?

I wanted to become a governor because we need more Japanese women in business leadership roles. I am on a mission to help and inspire them to become entrepreneurs. Women's entrepreneurship is the future of Japan.

What is one thing the CCCJ could do to improve its social media presence and engage with its members?

The CCCJ has made progress in the last two years. If we continue to focus on trends, storytelling and members — similar to what The Canadian provides in each issue — it will continue to attract interest. The chamber needs to continuously take the time to explain the added value of becoming a member of the CCCJ. While it's mostly about business, the chamber at its core is about the members and its ecosystem.

What is your favorite social media platform and why?

LinkedIn by far. I've connected with many executives that have become clients, strategic partners and many of them — ultimately — friends. Most of all, LinkedIn is about business — and I love doing business with great decision makers and innovative leaders.

What are some common mistakes companies make when trying to leverage social media? What are some simple steps they can take to avoid them?

Never forget that it's social first — then media. When we launched the first Uniqlo fan page on Facebook, the byline was: "For the fans by the fans." It's about the community, not just the brand.

What's your favorite Canadian pastime? Are you a Habs fan?

Attending cultural events, like each new Cirque du Soleil show or other performances in theatre and film — especially those of my friend Francois Girard. He is well known in Japan for the show Zed and his work with Japanese artists. No, I’m not a Habs fan, but I do follow every step of the Canadian team during the winter and summer Olympics. My heart beats for the Japanese Olympic team first, though.

© The Canadian

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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What a great plug but I don't really consider Cirque du Soleil as a cultural event...more like entertainment.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What a great plug but I don't really consider Cirque du Soleil as a cultural event...more like entertainment.

Cultural: of or relating to the fine arts (such as music, theater, painting, etc.)

If you've ever seen a Cirque du Soleil show, it's hard to argue that it isn't a cultural event.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yeah the balance is hard, because women still want to date or marry a man who is more ambitious, more successful, has more money, etc etc. I think if they are empowered and ambitious, they should date men who want to be househusbands and care for the family, while they are in the trenches bringing home the bacon. But I think most women don't like that scenario (at least most westernized women).

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nice. Montreal has so much going on. But unless Japan starts allowing dual citizenship it will never be two way entrepreneurialship just Japanese only. While that's certainly a step it's only a step

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Pretty gorgeous japanese lady. Haven't seen this pure asian beauty in ages. Women here spoil their beauty.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wait, who is she? Um...moved to Canada? So, she's rich? I don't know. I don't know much about rich people. mmm...the CCCJ...That's the, let's see, Canadian Chunks of Chickens in Japan? No,no..."members"..."ecosystem"...Yeah. What? is this marketing-speak? This is the chamber of Commerce? Can I be on the board? Yeah...someone said something about "house husband." Where do I sign up? I guess I will have to read between the lines of this article and assume that this is a rich person who knows other rich people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

fupayme: I think if they are empowered and ambitious, they should date men who want to be househusbands and care for the family, while they are in the trenches bringing home the bacon. But I think most women don't like that scenario (at least most westernized women).

Haha, sounds like the easternized women are OK with it, then.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This article is somewhat opaque. I'm not a rich person who can just decide to move to Canada and join the board of a major business body and don't have any knowledge of what this is talking about. Even the use of the acronym, though not hard, requires the reader to concentrate carefully. JT is not the Wall Street Journal and I doubt many eyes will stick to this. I guess what bothers me is that this is seems to be about a rich person who knows other rich people and can move to countries and join upper-management bodies. There's nothing wrong with that but It'd be better to explain some of the background of the person and to explain the organizations a little. Even an article in the New York Times, a much more prestigious pub than JT, will be written so the reader has a good idea of who the person is, what kind of business they are engaged in, what their background is, and what are the organizations to which the article refers. It's great to promote women and entrepreneurship, yet I don't know anyone who could explain how this person actually got to do the things the article tries to explain she does. It's hard to see how her path relates to working women or working people or the future. Maybe she's much more than an elite. Maybe it's the writers fault for not explaining anything at all for the readers. It's a disservice to readers but maybe to the interviewee also.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan has not used women, so it has been competing with one hand tied behind its back. Instead of a first rate woman, companies use second rate men. So Japan will become stronger as these second rate men are replaced by first rate women.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Montreal, Quebec and the language police did not harass her?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It SHOULD be, and COULD be if it were another nation. Alas, it is not, and so CANnot.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A little more down-to-earth please. Local businesses created and run by women will be relatable. The uber rich can be distant = and that mystery is not lessened by this opaque article. I couldn't really tell you - from this text - what this particular person does or they do it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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