Written by Mel Sutcliffe, Senior Test Engineer
Sarah Rogers and I were lucky enough to be nominated to attend Hitachi’s Global Women’s Summit (GWS) 2019 in Tokyo – and naturally we jumped at the chance! As a result, on the 31st of October we found ourselves in the grand ballroom of the Keio Plaza Hotel, accompanied by approx. 180 other delegates from all over the world.
This year for the first time, both male and female delegates were invited to attend this summit, and so in addition to 153 female delegates, there were 27 male delegates
Interestingly, it was noted by several male speakers how strange/difficult they initially found being in such a small minority.
The summit started with a welcome address from Mr. Toshiaki Higashihara, the President and CEO of Hitachi Ltd.
This was followed by a speech from Ms. Cynthia Carroll, the Outside Director, and a talk from Mr. Hidenobu Nakahata, the Senior Vice President and Executive Officer, CHRO, and General Manager of Human Capital Group.
The second session of the day consisted of a panel discussion with a theme of “How can we create a workplace with diversity and inclusiveness?”. This question was debated by a panel of 6 guest speakers, comprising 2 men and 4 women, with Ms. Yukiko Araki moderating
This discussion was immediately followed by a group photograph.
After a traditional bento box lunch , we split into groups to attend a number of workshops. There were several official photographers at the event, and I was captured participating in the ‘Unconscious Bias’ workshop (top right photograph), and Sarah was photographed in the ‘Coaching: Effective Questions’ workshop (bottom right photograph).
After the workshops had finished, we all returned to the ballroom for Mr. Toshiaki Higashihara’s Closing Remarks speech.
The event concluded with a Networking Dinner, during which time I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Toshiaki Higashihara, and to get several photographs with him
I was also asked to participate in a videoed interview, and the footage will be used in the GWS video that will soon be made available via the YouTube Hitachi Brand Channel (link to follow when available).
Tokyo – Sightseeing.
In addition to attending the summit, Sarah and I joined our colleagues Tom Ross, Luke Dyer and Karsten Cox for a spot of sightseeing. Here we all are, not looking in the slightest bit bemused and jet lagged!
Soon after our arrival, we were lucky enough to be able to watch England beat New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in a local Sports Bar. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) no photos survive of this evening, so you’ll just have to use your imagination!
Our hotel was in a district of Tokyo called ‘Akihabara’, which is commonly referred to as ‘Electric City’. The skyscrapers were tall, the advertising displays were enormous, the signs were brightly coloured, and it was a busy, noisy place all day, and late into the night.
Tokyo is home to numerous Temples and Shrines – after the excitement of ‘Electric City’, we visited a number of these sites to experience the more serene and peaceful side of Tokyo
As you can see in the following photo, insisting on have a selfie taken with your colleagues doesn’t always result in a sea of smiley happy faces
One of the highlights of my trip was the evening Sarah and I visited the ‘The SkyTree’ – the tallest free-standing broadcasting tower in the world
We travelled by an express elevator to the higher of the two observation desks (this wasn’t an outing for anyone with a fear of heights!), and after indulging in a little Dutch courage , we made our way along the futuristic viewing platform , and took in the sights of the city from 450 meters above ground level.
To finish this article, here’s a photo of a Panda in the zoo at Ueno (another district of Tokyo) – it looked about exhausted as I did by the end of the trip, but it was an unforgettable experience!!