By Iqra Razzaq

The Japan Global Immersion Course focused on the nation’s unique project management activities and specialized planning within professional organizations wrapped up its final days in Tokyo. The forty-eight Darden students enrolled finished their course with journeys to leading enterprises, engaging discussions with Darden alumni, and cultural experiences, such as authentic dining at Momij-itei and interaction with the fast-paced Japanese technological world. Students gained exposure to the multifaceted business world while absorbing the diverse, vibrant societies of Japan. For a closer look at the first few days of the course in Kyoto check out the last blog post!

Day 6 began with a morning discussion with Satoko Takahashi Kagawa (MBA ’04) who currently works in the Ministry of Finance. Satoko shared her work in counter terrorism affairs, cooperation strategies, and negotiation tactics alongside border and custom agencies in other countries. Satoko also emphasized the role of women in leadership positions within the Japanese government. She further discussed the change management involving tourist customs clearance in airports towards the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The students then heard from Mitch Slape, the Chief Operating Officer of Walmart Japan. Mitch delved into the Japanese retail market and the specialization approach Walmart employed in the Japanese market. Mitch also highlighted the global footprint and effects of Walmart.

The day finished off with a visit to e-Jan, the developer of CACHATTO. This service supports remote connection to internal corporate file services from an individual’s devices while providing high-level security and application support. Shiro Sakamoto (MBA ’95) leads the company as Founder and CEO. Sakamoto discussed the ongoing trends within IT and how his company specifically works ahead of these trends. Sakamoto also hosted a reception for the students that involved direct interaction with the e-Jan staff.

Day 7 involved a company visit to Coca Cola Japan during which Hiromi Koizumi (MBA ’92) Senior Manager of Strategy & Insights, provided insight on Coca Cola marketing in Japan. She discussed the recent marketing strategies towards the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics and presented the latest product, Coke Plus. The government has approved this drink and validated its health benefits. Hiromi generously provided the students Coke products to sample!

The students also visited SoftBank, a multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation. Kane Nakamura, Deputy Manager of SoftBank, introduced the students to Pepper, the first humanoid robot capable of recognizing principal human emotions and adapting his behavior to the mood of his interlocutor. Kane discussed the background research, production strategies, and marketing directed towards the development of Pepper.

Day 8 marked the final day for the students’ stay in Japan. The morning began with a visit to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF), created in response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Students learned about the NDF’s response to the Fukushima disaster and the relevant stakeholders involved. Shigehiro Yoshino, NDF Managing Director, spoke about the state of energy policy in Japan today.

The afternoon involved a visit to Nissan in Yokohama. The students heard from multiple UVA and Darden alumni regarding Nissan’s history, current state, and future predictions. The students saw a showcase of the latest GT-R engine and witnessed its production in a manufacturing plant tour.

The course ended with a farewell dinner at Momij-itei.