Leaders February 2011

Changing of the Guard

My gratitude to the Members for trusting, challenging and inspiring me

A good deal of my working life has been spent interviewing others, either for broadcast or print media—an avocation I’ve managed to follow even while serving as BCCJ executive director—so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to the shoe being on the other foot for this issue’s cover story on page 12. Imagine, if you’re right-handed, being asked to write your name with your left hand: you can do it, but it feels not quite right. That said, I couldn’t have wanted a more professional interviewer than Julian Ryall and it goes without saying that I’ve never known a photographer quite like Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert. He even put my cat at ease!

This will be my last piece for ACUMEN as executive director, so it seems appropriate that I use it to say how immensely grateful I am for the fantastic opportunity the BCCJ gave me when they appointed me way back in 1987. What a privilege it has been to serve the Membership and, in doing so, to learn so much about the Anglo-Japanese business relationship. To have done so over the past almost quarter of a century has been both challenging and rewarding. I’ve enjoyed a strong relationship with the British Embassy Tokyo and the tremendous personal support of six ambassadors during my tenure, and I have had the honour of answering to no fewer than 11 Chamber presidents.

Throughout, almost from day one, I have shared the office with Sanae Samata. She joined us as a junior a matter of weeks after my own appointment, and has since worked consistently and diligently in the interests of the Membership. Today, as operations manager, Ms Samata is one of our most valuable resources and I confess that, without her, my job would have been much more difficult and far less enjoyable.

Yet my greatest thanks must go to you, the Members—for trusting me, for challenging me, for inspiring me. Above all, for never allowing me to become complacent. I am proud of all we have done together. Now it is time for me to move on to other things. I do so in the knowledge that the Chamber is in the safe hands of my successor, Lori Henderson. I ask that you give her the same tremendous support that you have always given me.