Executive Director May / June 2022

Journeying forward

Lori Henderson MBE

Most members will be aware of the exciting leadership changes that have taken place since the last issue of BCCJ ACUMEN. On 31 March, I stepped down from the position of BCCJ Executive Director. The next day Sarah Backley took on that same role.

Reflecting on an action-packed assignment, I would like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has invested time, energy and resources in the Chamber since I took the reins in February 2011. It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to have served the BCCJ community for the past 11 years.

We have now entered a new era of BCCJ leadership and I’m excited to see what Sarah, an excellent choice for Executive Director, will achieve for members and UK–Japan relations over the coming months and years. I remain committed to the BCCJ in the capacity of Senior Advisor, whilst embarking on a new professional challenge as Managing Director, Strategy at Clarence Education Asia group (a BCCJ member organisation).

Thank you to everyone who attended the Annual General Meeting on 27 April, where we enjoyed a ceremonial transfer of power. I will forever cherish the beautiful marble sculpture—“The Lori,” presented by Kate Thomson of Ukishima Sculpture Studio on behalf of BCCJ members—and a beautiful photo album with handwritten notes from BCCJ leaders past and present, many of whom I’m lucky enough to count as friends.

Sarah Backley

It is with great excitement that I began following in Lori’s footsteps as BCCJ Executive Director, from 1 April.

It’s been a busy couple of months, with a focus on formal introductions and meetings with key partners and working with our Executive Committee to develop the Chamber’s strategy and priorities for the year ahead. Alongside our newly elected President and Excom, I will strive to expand the BCCJ into new and exciting territory, supported by our fantastic and tireless team of Sanae Samata, Sam Maddicot and our hardworking interns.

Being part of the team that has taken Chamber events into the digital realm has been a thrilling journey. We now find ourselves in a mostly re-opened world, and the BCCJ is pleased to be reintroducing in-person events after a two-year hiatus. These will be delivered alongside our hybrid and virtual sessions, and I look forward to meeting more members as the months go by and see them benefit from the connectivity and networking opportunities that the BCCJ offers across all its event and communications platforms. Already, it has been such a pleasure to meet new members and reconnect with familiar faces each day, at events and one on one.

I feel an enormous amount of privilege to be serving you, our members, and look forward to finding new and creative ways to deliver value for you and your organisation in 2022 and beyond. 

Sarah began her current role as Executive Director at the BCCJ in April 2022, after joining as Associate Director in January 2020. Prior to joining the BCCJ, she served as Coordinator for International Relations for the Rugby World Cup 2019 Department, at Oita Prefectural Government from 2017–2019. Sarah has a degree in Japanese and Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh.