Mar 23 2018 Active Connector CEO, shares vision of 'Innovation through Diversity' as Keynote Speaker

On Friday 16th March, Asami Matsumoto CEO and Founder of Active Connector addressed an audience of +150 people in EdgeOf. As the keynote speaker of Social Innovation Japan, Matsumoto was sharing her vision behind Active Connector under the event theme 'Reshaping the Way We Work'. 

(Friday 16th March 2019 – Tokyo)

On Friday 16th March, Asami Matsumoto CEO and Founder of Active Connector addressed an audience of +150 people in Tokyo, Japan. As the keynote speaker of Social Innovation Japan‘s ‘Reshaping the Way We Work’ event, Matsumoto shared her vision to promote ‘innovation through diversity’ in Japan.

Matsumoto shared her perspective on the challenges and opportunities of work in Japan. Having had experience working for multinational corporations and government institutions, Matsumoto found a constant struggle between pursuing her passion and conventional expectations of building a successful career. Under Japan’s traditional job-hunting system, in particular, shukatsu, the pressures to converge towards societal expectations instead of personal interests are especially acute. Instead of celebrating individual differences and uniqueness as a strength, she found greater pressure to assimilate to a predominant norm. She saw this as a huge barrier to entry for international students in particular so in 2013, she decided to create her own company in order to pursue her passion and help others do the same.

In light of Japan’s labour shortage, Matsumoto was struck by the difficulty that international students had in finding jobs. At the time, despite having the highest labour shortage globally, only 1 in 3 international students were able to secure jobs.  She decided to launch Active Connector as a way to bridge international students with Japanese companies aspiring to be global. Today, the company has expanded to support +5K students and working professionals find meaningful work opportunities across sectors all around Japan.

Alongside rigid job-hunting systems and labour shortages, Matsumoto highlighted the reluctance to change as a threat to the socioeconomic future of Japan. Without greater diversity – not just in individuals (Japanese and non-Japanese) as well as working culture, there is a self-imposed limit to the innovation and growth Japan is able to experience. Her strategy is therefore two-fold, first to create as many ‘successful cases’ connecting catalysts for change (i.e. people with international backgrounds with innovative Japanese companies aspiring to be global) in order to create a tipping point. The second is to be a model company to inspire other Japanese companies on how to create a dynamic and diverse workplace – she is currently doing this by understanding the different needs of people with different backgrounds – whether its working parents or people various religious/cultural backgrounds. In creating a workspace that is inclusive and adapts to these needs, she has found that you can contribute to the overall happiness, fulfilment and productivity of the team.

The event concluded with a lively Q&A session from a diverse audience across various sectors including students, entrepreneurs and working professionals from a myriad of backgrounds.

About Active Connector

Established in 2013 by Asami Matsumoto, Active Connector works to build a bridge between talented international students and young professionals with Japanese companies aspiring to be global. With a goal of promoting greater innovation through diversity, Active Connector provides one-to-one consultation with members, university outreach events* and diversity management consulting for Japanese companies globalising their HR strategy. Since its establishment, Active Connector has been featured in various news media outlets including WBS (TV Tokyo), NHK and Nikkei Asian Review.

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Twitter: @ActiveConnecto1

About Social Innovation Japan

Social Innovation Japan is a community of problem-solvers, thinkers, and doers. We organize events where people can learn from leading innovators who are addressing important issues facing Japan and the wider world, share their passions, interests and expertise, and connect with like-minded people from different backgrounds. From climate change to the revitalization of rural communities to the refugee crisis, we cover the whole spectrum of today’s issues, both big and small.

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Photo credits: Chris Mollison

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