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UW Converge Tokyo 2018: Speaker Bios

Keynote Speakers

Sally Jewell, ’78

Sally JewellSally is a business executive and served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Obama. She has focused her career on supporting a robust economy coupled with long-term sustainability of our natural world and its diverse people.

During her tenure as Interior Secretary, Jewell was recognized for taking the long-view, using a science-based, landscape-level, collaborative approach to natural resources management. She and her capable team were deeply engaged in rebuilding a trusting, nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous communities in the U.S. They championed the importance of science and sharing data to better understand our Earth’s systems; supported development of commercial-scale renewable energy on public lands and waters; encouraged investments for more sustainable use of water in the West; and worked with Congress, President Obama and his team on long-term conservation of our nation’s most vulnerable and irreplaceable natural, cultural and historic treasures.

Throughout her career, Jewell has been committed to connecting people to nature, particularly youth. At Interior, she and her team championed efforts to create a continuum of engagement that encouraged tens of millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work on public lands.

Prior to serving on President Obama’s cabinet, Jewell was President and CEO of REI, a $2.6 billion retailer dedicated to facilitating outdoor adventures. Prior to REI, she served 19 years in commercial banking across a wide-range of industries, and began her career as an engineer in the energy industry. She has been active in many non-profit organizations throughout her life, including serving as a Regent of the University of Washington where she is currently a Distinguished Fellow in the College of the Environment.


Masumi Natsusaka, ’86

Masumi NatsusakaMr. Natsusaka is a senior executive at Kao Corporation, a global consumer goods/chemical products company based in Tokyo. Born in Saitama, Japan, he joined Kao as a new graduate in 1979.

Mr. Natsusaka spent six years in Germany in the 1980s to 1990s, where he learned management in a cross-cultural environment. He spent most of his career marketing the Kao Group’s beauty care brands, including Biore, Jergens, Curel, Molton Brown, Goldwell, Sofina, Kanebo and more.

He was President of Kanebo Cosmetics from 2012 to 2018, a Kao Group company. During his tenure at Kanebo, he learned the importance of values-based leadership and facing difficult issues with integrity, one of the core elements in Kao’s corporate philosophy, the Kao Way. As President of Kanebo, one of his achievements was high double-digit growth in the company’s overseas business.

Mr. Natsusaka returned to Kao in 2018 and is currently leading various innovation projects. Beside business, he has keen interest in the Japan-China relationship, and published a book titled Japan and China: Contact Points in History with a co-author.

He graduated with a Bachelors degree from Osaka University in 1979 and received an MBA from the UW in 1986.


Takashi Okutani, ’95

Takashi OkutaniTakashi is the Executive Officer and Chief Omni-Channel Officer of Oisix.ra.daichi and a Board member of the University of Washington Alumni Association Japan.

Previously he worked at MUJI WEB Business Section as General Manager, and produced a digital CRM application called MUJI Passport in addition to creating a global CRM platform. Also launched several overseas MUJI e-commerce platforms.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Washington in 1995.

He received a Master’s degree from Waseda University Graduate School of Business and Finance (Waseda Business School), and is currently studying at Hitotsubashi University for his Ph.D.


Seattle C-suite Panel

Bill Benack

Bill BenackBill Benack is the director of Finance Operations for Amazon Japan and the Asia Pacific region, and is responsible for the operation of core financial functions across Amazon’s consumer, cloud, digital and other businesses. He has been with Amazon since 2016 and is based in Tokyo, Japan.

Previously, Benack was the Vice President of Finance for Vulcan, the Seattle-based company headed by Microsoft cofounder, Paul Allen. In this capacity, he oversaw the financial management of real estate, public & private equity investment operations, philanthropic endeavors, and personal assets, and he provided oversight for affiliated museums, research institutes, and sports teams.

Prior to joining Vulcan, Benack spent 16 years with Microsoft in a variety of leadership roles, including managing the Finance organizations for the Server, Developer Tools, and Windows business groups, as well as for the worldwide sales, marketing, and services organization. He was CFO of Microsoft Japan in Tokyo, and spearheaded Microsoft Finance’s efforts in the area of cloud computing. Previously, he was corporate controller for Concur Technologies, and also held Finance positions with Sprint and DuPont.

Benack holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Chicago.


Brett C. Gerry

 Brett GerryBrett C. Gerry was named president of Boeing Japan in February 2016. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the Boeing strategy in Japan, expanding the company’s local presence, identifying new business and partnership opportunities, and leading government affairs and corporate citizenship programs. He is based in Tokyo and reports to Marc Allen, president of Boeing International.

Prior to this appointment, Gerry was vice president and assistant general counsel for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, one of four operating groups within Boeing. Based in Seattle, Washington, Gerry led the legal function for the world’s premier manufacturer of commercial jetliners. He has held this position since March 2009. Before joining Commercial Airplanes, Gerry was chief counsel for Network and Space Systems (N&SS), one of the businesses within Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Gerry came to Boeing following several senior positions in the U.S. Department of Justice and the White House. His service at the Justice Department included roles as chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; as acting assistant attorney general supervising the Department’s office of law and policy; and as part of the leadership team that launched the Justice Department’s national security division, where he served as deputy assistant attorney general.

Before that, Gerry was an associate counsel to the President of the United States, in which capacity he worked on national security and intelligence matters. He also worked in private practice at Boston-based Goodwin Procter LLP, and was a law clerk both at the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Gerry earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Colgate University, an M.A. in political science from Yale University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He remains involved in national security law matters and has served as an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University and at the University of Washington Law School. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Education.


Takuya Hirano

Takuya HiranoTakuya Hirano is currently the president of Microsoft Japan. He joined Microsoft Japan in 2005 as a senior director and was in charge of developing Microsoft Japan’s overall business growth plan.

In 2006, Hirano became the general manager of the company’s Enterprise Services, and was responsible for its consulting practice and enterprise support program. This was followed by his appointment in March 2008 as the general manager for the Enterprise and Partner Group, which he led for nearly 4 years, focusing on large enterprise customers.

Between 2011 and 2014, Hirano was based in Munich, Germany as the general manager for the Multi-country Subsidiary within Microsoft’s Central & Eastern Europe organization. He was responsible for all aspects of business in the 25 countries of the region, including Enterprise Business, Consumer Business, Services and Marketing. Thereafter, he returned to Microsoft Japan in 2014, and led the Marketing and Operations group.

Before joining Microsoft, Hirano spent eight years at Hyperion Solutions (now Oracle Corporation), where he had responsibilities in Sales, Alliance, and Marketing. During his last 5 years at Hyperion Japan, he contributed to accelerating the business as the company’s president. He also spent several years of his professional life in Silicon Valley, California, where he drove multi-national semi-conductor business projects for Kanematsu USA.

Hirano was born in Hokkaido, Japan and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University.


Session Speakers

Kazuhiko Oigawa, ’96

Kazuhiko OigawaMr. Oigawa was born in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1964. He joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (the present Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)) in 1988. Mr. Oigawa engaged in various policy areas at METI, including promoting venture businesses by establishing the Limited Partnership Law, and supported Japanese businesses in the Asia region as the first Asian branch representative of the Trade Insurance Organization.

Mr. Oigawa joined Microsoft Asia, Ltd. in 2003 as Head of Corporate Affairs. He took up a new position as Sales lead of the Public Sector the following year, and drove the Public Sector business successfully both at Microsoft Kabushikigaisha and Cisco Systems Godo-kaisha until 2015 as General Manager.

In 2016, Mr. Oigawa joined Dwango Co., Ltd. as Executive Director to launch a new internet high school business, and executed drastic reform in the internet news business in Niko Niko Doga (an internet portal site).

Mr. Oigawa took up the position of Governor of Ibaraki Prefecture in September 2017.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Law from The University of Tokyo in 1988 and received his LL.M. from the University of Washington School of Law in 1996. His interests include reading, listening to music, and playing (vs. watching) sports in general.


Shuhei Tajima, ’01

 Shuhei TajimaShuhei was born in Tokyo and raised in Bellevue. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Puget Sound (Washington State) in 1995. After graduating, Shuhei worked for a trading company based in Seattle for 3 years.

Shuhei obtained an MBA from the University of Washington Foster School of Business in 2001. He subsequently joined Goldman Sachs in 2001 and worked as Vice President in the Operations Division in Tokyo and New York for a total of 16 years.

In July 2017, Shuhei joined Institution for a Global Society Corporation (IGS) as Chief Operating Officer and became a member of the Board in 2018.


Tomoko Kawakami, ’13

Tomoko KawakamiProfessor Kawakami has been a Professor of Marketing at Waseda University Graduate School of Business and Finance (Waseda Business School) since April 2015 and was promoted to Associate Dean of Waseda Business School in September 2018. Before joining Waseda, she was a Professor at Kansai University. She was the Founder and Director of Waseda Blue Ocean Strategy Institute (WABOSI) and is now the Associate Director. Prior to entering the academic world, Professor Kawakami worked at Minolta Co., Ltd. (currently Konica Minolta, Inc.). She received her MBA from Osaka University and Ph.D. from Kobe University.

Professor Kawakami was a Visiting Scholar in 2003-2004, 2007-2008, and 2013 and an Affiliate (Associate) Professor from 2009 to 2013 at the University of Washington Foster School of Business. As a Fulbright Scholar in 2013, she also joined graduate courses of the Master of Health Administration (MHA) and EMHA at the School of Public Health.

Professor Kawakami has been a Visiting Scholar at the Blue Ocean Strategy Institute at INSEAD (France) since 2012, and an Academic Fellow of the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) since 2013. She has served on the Board of the Japan Marketing Academy and a scientific committee of the Innovation and Product Development Management Conference, EIASM (Europe), both since 2012. She has also served on an editorial board of the Journal of Product Innovation Management (USA) since 2013.

Professor Kawakami received Best Research Awards from the Japan Society of Marketing and Distribution (JSMD) and Japan Society of Business Administration (JSBA) in 2016. She was ranked among the Top 100 Research-active Scholars in Asia in 2017. Her paper on the diffusion of e-readers in Japan is available on YouTube.


Chika Yoshida, ’07

Chika YoshidaChika is a bilingual video creator from Japan, passionate about language and culture. She moved to the U.S. when she was 6 and spent most of her adolescent life in Seattle.

After graduating from the University of Washington, she moved back to Japan and began working at a global consulting firm in Tokyo. She started uploading videos to YouTube when a friend asked her for advice on English grammar. After months of making lesson videos before and after work, Chika began exploring ways to make English education more entertaining for her viewers.

She left her consulting career to fully focus on her new passion and found herself dressing up in different characters doing skits, traveling around the world sharing different cultures, cooking, singing, dancing – combining English with anything that she though would be fun, to build a one of a kind English learning channel.

Chika has been appointed to Change Ambassador in 2016 as part of YouTube’s partnership with the U.N. in advocating the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

She gave birth to her first child in June 2018. Her YouTube channel now has over 1.2 million subscribers and 250 million total views. She has also has a second channel highlighting the study abroad life of her friends.


Paul Atkins

Paul Atkins Paul S. Atkins is professor of Japanese and department chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington, Seattle. He teaches classical Japanese language and literature and writes about medieval Japanese literature, drama, and culture. His publications include Teika: The Life and Works of a Medieval Japanese Poet (University of Hawai’i Press, 2017) and Revealed Identity: The Noh Plays of Komparu Zenchiku (Center of Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2006). He was awarded the William F. Sibley Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature and Literary Studies by the University of Chicago in 2011 for his translation from the Japanese of the 18th-century puppet play Nagamachi onna harakiri (Harakiri of a woman at Nagamachi).


Mario Barnes

Mario BarnesMario L. Barnes is the Toni Rembe Dean of the University of Washington School of Law and a nationally recognized scholar for his research on the legal and social implications of race and gender, primarily in the areas of employment, education, criminal and military law.

Dean Barnes joined UW from UC Irvine School of Law where he served as professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs and taught courses in criminal justice, constitutional law, critical theories and national security law.

Before joining UCI in 2009, he was a faculty member at the University of Miami School of Law, where he was twice selected as Outstanding Law Professor.

Prior to his academic career, Barnes spent 12 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy, including service as a prosecutor, defense counsel, special assistant U.S. attorney, and on the commission that investigated the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. His reserve assignments included service with the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command in San Diego, the Navy Inspector General’s Office in Washington, D.C., and U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa. He retired from the Navy in 2013, after 23 years of combined active and reserve service.

Barnes earned both his bachelor’s degree in psychology and his juris doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. He completed his master of laws at the University of Wisconsin.

Michael Johnson

 Michael Johnson Michael D. Johnson ( is an Associate Professor of Management and Organization and the Boeing Company Endowed Professor of Business Administration in the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. He received his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Michigan State University in 2006. Dr. Johnson teaches Organizational Leadership and Leading Organizational Change in Foster’s Executive MBA and Technology Management MBA programs. He has received numerous teaching and scholarly awards. His research focuses primarily on team effectiveness, social identities, and emotions at work.

Yoshitaka Ota

Yoshitaka Ota Yoshitaka Ota is a Research Assistant Professor for the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington. Yoshi is a social anthropologist, specializing in global ocean governance and social equity. Yoshi completed his B.Sc. (1995), M.Sc. (1998), and Ph.D. (2006) in Anthropology at the University College London. He completed fieldwork in Palau, UK, Indonesia and Australia. Since 2011, Yoshi has been Director (Policy) at the Nereus Program, an interdisciplinary ocean research initiative between the non-profit Nippon Foundation and seventeen universities worldwide.

Scott Schumacher

Scott Schumacher Scott Schumacher is Associate Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law. He is also the Co-Director of the Law School’s Global Business Law Institute and the Director of the Graduate Program in Taxation. He teaches in the areas of taxation, business, and white collar crime. Prior to joining the UW faculty, he was an attorney with Chicoine & Hallett, P.S., in Seattle, Washington, where his practice focused on tax controversy and litigation. He also served as a Trial Attorney with the United States Department of Justice, and he was an Attorney-Advisor to Chief Judge Arthur L. Nims III of the United States Tax Court.



Eugene Saburi, ’93

Eugene SaburiEugene is a Board member of the University of Washington Alumni Association Japan (UWAAJ).

He was the President of Adobe Systems Co, Ltd. (Japan) from July 2014 to April 2018, during a pivotal time for the company in moving to an annuity revenue model and launching a new business unit.

Prior to that, after joining Microsoft in 1995, he spent 19 years at the company across various executive roles including General Manager of Server & Tools Marketing at Redmond Headquarters as well as serving as Chief Marketing Officer for Microsoft Japan. During his career in IT, he spent approximately equal amounts of time in Seattle and Tokyo.

Eugene holds a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese from the UW (1989-1993). Now residing in Newcastle, WA, he is married with 3 teenagers and is an avid kayaker/cyclist.

Biographies and photos provided by speakers. UWAA does not edit these statements for accuracy, style or grammar.