Associate Director

Eventful start

How these weeks have flown by and evolved in a way that none could have foreseen. On 14 March, I marked two months since my move to Tokyo and introduction to the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) as associate director.

Some may say this was a baptism of fire, and although it was certainly not the kind of transition that I was expecting, the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19 has made one thing very clear: not only does the BCCJ provide an exciting platform for UK and Japanese business exchange, it is so much more. It is a proactive community full of trust and support—from the BCCJ team, Executive Committee (Excom) and BCCJ members—and, above all, is a group to which I am honoured to be a part.

Leadership challenge

With the health and safety of our staff and members in mind—and in keeping with directives from the Government of Japan—Excom has made the decision to postpone all face-to-face events. We will continue to monitor developments surrounding Covid-19 and look forward to delivering our tempo­­­rarily postponed events as soon as circum­stances allow. These include New Horizons with Confedera­tion of British Industry Deputy Director-General Josh Hardie, as well as our annual International Women’s Day reception.

In the meantime, we welcome you to take part in our upcoming digital events and initiatives. Starting with a tele­conference with BCCJ Platinum members in early March to understand the priorities and challenges faced in the leader­ship role in dealing with Covid-19 in Japan, the BCCJ plans to host an array of informa­tion sessions in the form of webinars, podcasts and interactive Q&As. The first webinar was held on 16 March and featured Jonathan Spraggs, vice president and international head of tech at GlaxoSmithKline, and Jeremy Sampson, managing director of Japan & Korea at Robert Walters. The pair discussed with moderator Heather McLeish, of EY Japan, the priorities and challenges in dealing with Covid-19 in Japan from a leadership position.

And on 27 February, we were delighted to partner with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors to gain insights from their most recent global property data survey and the latest intel on property markets in Japan and around the globe.

Your voice matters

As many of you are aware, a large part of what makes these events possible and ensures the chamber’s good governance is Excom. This year’s deadline for nominations to serve for the 2020–2021 term is 27 March. Then, beginning on 3 April, all members will be asked to vote anonymously—by online poll, post or proxy—in advance of our Annual General Meeting on 27 April. I strongly encourage you to nominate, vote and attend!

Your work honoured

To end on a high, despite the cloud of uncertainty that surrounds us today, there is a silver lining: the BCCJ was recognised earlier this month as International Chamber of the Year at the 2019 APAC Chamber of Commerce Awards. We were specifically singled out for our contributions to members and the furtherance of UK–Japan relations. The ever-growing achievements of the BCCJ are hugely inspiring and continue to set the bar incredibly high. Whatever else the coming fiscal year throws at us, I am excited to see what is in store for the BCCJ as we hold on tight and leap even higher!