Kei Yamawaki has a strong background in business consulting, having working for firms such as Bain & Company. She has expanded to gain experience in the startup industry as she was part of the four-person team with Spotify Japan that launched last July. She hopes to take her educational experience at Stanford Graduate School of Business to eventually start her own company in the electronic books market within Japan.
About Kei Yamawaki
Why did you apply to the TOMODACHI-UNIQLO Fellowship? What do you hope to learn?
Having grown up in a multicultural environment, I’ve always been interested in helping organizations globalize. At Bain Tokyo, I supported a major Japanese company looking to become a “true global entity” – this required transforming everything from organization structure to daily processes – while keeping the core company culture in tact. I faced a similar challenge at Spotify, an internationally growing music-streaming start-up, in launching the company in Japan. Breaking through the domestic market required us to strike the right balance between localizing the product and maintaining a global DNA.
In both instances, the biggest bottleneck we faced was employee resistance in the face of change. I learned that globalizing companies requires a deep understanding of local business needs, matched with the ability to influence the way people fundamentally think and behave.
I applied to Stanford’s MBA program to work on my leadership “soft skills” – classes such as Touchy Feely and Leadership Labs are particularly suited to exploring leadership styles and people management by experiencing difficult situations first-hand. Additionally, as a TOMODACHI-UNIQLO fellow, I am excited to have the opportunity to intern at UNIQLO, one of Japan’s most successful “globalized companies”, and apply what I’ve learned at Stanford to contribute to the company’s global operations.
What connections do you have with the U.S.?
I’ve grown up in both Japan and the U.S. – both countries feel like home to me. Specifically, I attended a portion of elementary and high school in the U.S. (NY and Boston), and graduated from Brown University in Providence, RI in 2010.