Association in the Spotlight – Cool Japan

As we just passed the fourth anniversary of the “Great Tohoku Earthquake” on March 11, 2011, Alumni in Japan can look back on how much of a turning point it was for them.

Some of us learned about the events on campus or on a business trip. Many of us were in Japan, and felt the impact of those events in real time. In following the school’s belief of “Business as a force for Good”, Alumni engaged at all levels in recovery efforts.

Cool Japan 2

One notable initiative was to support the oyster producers in the Tohoku region in rebuilding their businesses. The producers’ business association had helped French oyster producers decades ago, when they faced disease that decimated oysters in France. So this was an opportunity to return the favour from a past good, which in Japanese is “O-Kaeshi”. This initiative attracted the attention of INSEAD Social Innovation Centre, a funding campaign was arranged by IAAJ and the business case “France O-Kaeshi“ 03/2014-6042 was eventually published in August 2014.

Association members in Japan were greatly energised by this success and decided that, after a brief lapse, it was time for our Global community’s Japanese chapter to roll up its sleeves. The move coincided with Japan’s launch of an economic come-back, supported by new policies and with the focus of spurring global competitiveness for its core industries. The selection of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games was a crowning point in the midst of this initiative.

Overall activities of IAAJ
We currently count more than 700 alumni living and working in Japan with a 50/50 split between MBA/EMBAs and Executive Programme participants. Like most other associations in the world, we have a diverse alumni body where at least 20 nationalities are represented. IAAJ aims to provide opportunities to bring alumni together by organising a variety of initiatives that serve the broad needs of our local community. With up to 20 events a year, we pride ourselves on being one of the most active business school alumni associations in Japan.

  • Academic and professional
    We invite C-suite executives who are willing to share their experiences as guest speakers, and we also host seminars with faculty members when they visit Japan. Moreover, IAAJ hosts special events such as the INSEAD Japan Startup Bootcamp, held in 2013 with Affiliate Professor of Entrepreneurship Paul Kewene-Hite. As for Global INSEAD Day, our theme in 2014 was “Under Which Conditions Can Abenomics Succeed?” As always, our food-for-thought seminars are followed by a “nice place, beautiful people” party, in the best INSEAD tradition.
  • Social events – community bonding
    Along with the traditional bi-monthly drinks gatherings, which are opportunities for Alumni of all promotions to connect and for accepted or prospective participants to discover the local INSEAD community, IAAJ organises a number of events aimed at strengthening our connections. IAAJ also organises BBQs, Salamander Golf Tournaments, privileged seasonal Japanese cultural discovery events such as cherry blossom walks or calligraphy workshops, and cross-cultural food discovery tours that take advantage of Tokyo’s premium food culture.

Last but not least, the IAAJ End of Year party, the Tokyo Winter Ball, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, helps us close the year in good spirits and launches us into the year to come. All these events are publicised through social network platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, in addition to MyINSEAD, which has just been rolled out.

INSEAD Alumni Forum Asia, 20 to 22 November
In continuing to raise the bar for its efforts, the IAAJ decided in 2014 to host the upcoming 2015 Alumni Forum Asia, after the ones in Shanghai and Sydney. No INSEAD event of this magnitude has happened in Japan since 2002. Premium Tokyo locations will be mobilised to host what will be an unforgettable experience for those attending from around the world.

The event takes place from 20 to 22 November. The climax will be on the Saturday, 21 November with a full day forum in Roppongi Hills followed by a gala party. Speakers and panelists from Japan and Asia will share how they “Navigate the waves of change”. Prominent representatives from Japan Inc. are to gather with other Asian leaders to elaborate on the challenges and opportunities in front of us.
A premium location is under consideration for the gala party, which will be a time to rejoice, connect and showcase the best of Japan’s traditions and modernity: Cool Japan! Moreover, with Tokyo being the safest “city that never sleeps”, INSEADers will have the opportunity to party till the break of dawn.

Cool japan

Sunday, 22 November is dedicated to our community social agenda. Brunches are planned in premium places and we will make arrangements for those who wish to make short trips to nearby locations such as Kamakura, Nikko or Hakone. Some might even want to experience Japan’s bullet train punctuality and extend their reach to Kyoto or Kanazawa, to explore the historical roots of Japan. In November the colours of the autumn leaves will be unforgettable.

In terms of our planning, we have organised numerous dedicated activities that will adhere to the traditional INSEAD atmosphere of “work hard, play hard”.

To capture the essence of what Japan can bring as a force for good, the IAAJ extended its reach and leveraged its diversity. Our group of volunteers consists of a nice mix of alumni from a variety of nationalities, industries, INSEAD programme origins and ages to provide the best experience for the event.

Our aim is not only to open Japan to our Global Community, but also to bring the world to Japan. As a result, we have already started to engage numerous other stakeholders, such as National Councils and other National Associations, focusing on Asia. In addition, the positive reception we enjoy when we contact potential speakers, sponsors and media further motivates us.

We have great expectations for the Alumni Forum Asia – Tokyo 2015. We trust that it will attract your professional and personal interest.

We look forward to seeing you all in Tokyo from 20 to 22 November. Let’s share the Asian and Japanese experience as together we “Navigate the waves of change”!

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