Preparing for maternity leave is not only an interesting personal journey, but also a unique opportunity for our team to review BCCJ strategic developments, organisational efficiency and operational metrics.
Six months into the financial year, before passing the Executive Director baton to a new employee, I’m pleased to report that we are on track.
Membership numbers are growing modestly, with ever-increasing engagement of Japanese members, as well as Platinum partners—our “Champions of British Business”.
Our events programme continues to offer a diverse spread of learning and development opportunities—as well as fun.
And our community work is having a positive impact on marginalised groups in Japan, such as youth living in care homes but seeking education and jobs.
Depending on the date of our new arrival, I may miss this year’s British Business Awards (11 Nov), but our solid project management platform means we are ahead of the game on bookings and nominations. Financial support from Jaguar Land Rover (headline sponsor), Michael Page International and Thermo Fisher (Silver Sponsors) is resulting in a healthy budget.
We can feel really proud of what the BCCJ achieves with just three employees.
We’re lucky, too, to be supported by a progressive-minded Executive Committee of 15 members—who’ve allowed me the flexibility I’ve needed over the past few months to attend doctor’s appointments and work remotely. The supportive environment has made my pregnancy an enjoyable adventure—and helped me feel motivated to work “normally” for as long as I can.
And we are eternally grateful for the pro-bono advice from member firms, each of which bring skills and experience that help our community function, particularly during times of transition. Freshfields and HR Advisory have been particularly supportive in advising on matters related to Japan’s labour laws, and maternity and paternity leave and benefits.
Interim executive director
Our Interim Executive Director Emma Hickinbotham will bring to the team more than 20 years of experience working between the UK and Japan.
She will be ably supported throughout the maternity cover period by our BCCJ office team, Sanae Samata and Joanna Lundt, as well as our three winter interns, from Temple University and Showa Women’s University. We will undoubtedly discover talents we never knew we had, and benefit from Emma’s fresh perspective.
As I bid you sayonara for six months, members are invited to attend a casual reception in mid-October to welcome Emma to the Chamber. More details can be found on www.bccjapan.com. Please make our new team member feel as welcome and valued as I have felt over the past five and a half years.
Thank you to British Airways for inviting us to celebrate the launch of the Dreamliner service between the UK and Japan on 29 August, allowing us to rub shoulders with global superstar Orlando Bloom.
I wave a temporary farewell to the BCCJ, preparing for motherhood, and feeling blessed in more ways than one.