10/03/12: Linda Akutagawa, President and CEO, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics Inc. (LEAP)
12/05/12: Yoshimi Inaba, Chairman, Toyota Motor Sales USA and Executive Advisor, Toyota Motor Corporation
2/13/13: David Kang, Director, Korean Studies Institute and Professor of International Relations and Business, USC
4/24/13: Deepa Prahalad, Author and Business Strategist


Wednesday, October 3, 2012
7:00 p.m.
Hilton 100
"Challenges of Asian Global Leadership"
Linda Akutagawa, President and CEO, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP)

The Center for Asian Business welcomed its first guest speaker of the fall semester on October 3rd as part of its Y.B. Min Lecture Series. Linda Akutagawa, president and CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP), took the Hilton stage and presented on the topic "Challenges of Asian Global Leadership."

Akutagawa is responsible for LEAP’s strategic direction, operations, relationships and collaborations. A passionate social entrepreneur, she has dedicated herself, over her 19-year career, to inspiring Asian and Pacific Islanders to aspire to leadership roles in all sectors of society and serve as role models for diverse leadership.

In her lively presentation, Akutagawa discussed some of the communications challenges for Asian leaders, including language proficiency, remaining quiet during meetings, cultural differences and networking. She emphasized that behavior for one culture may not translate for another culture. For example, Americans assume that people are shy or uninterested if they don’t speak up during a meeting; however, it’s part of the Asian culture to wait for their turn to speak and not challenge authority.

Some of the “skills for success” Akutagawa identified in her presentation included 1) develop a global mindset, 2) build your expertise, 3) manage your visibility and 4) communicate. Above all, keep your values and continue to develop new skills.

A beneficiary of LEAP’s leadership training, Akutagawa first began as a volunteer at LEAP. She now speaks and presents globally on topics such as leadership, influence of Asian cultural values, employee resource groups, diversity, networking and branding to a range of audiences across multiple sectors. Prior to joining LEAP, she was the marketing manager for Japan & Orient Tours Inc., a travel operator specializing in Asia and the Pacific.

Akutagawa serves on the Board Directors of the Asian Women Leadership Network, Boat People SOS-California and Japanese American Community Services of Southern California Inc. (JACS), a provider of grants with a focus on community service, leadership development, cultural arts, and health and human services. Linda received her Bachelor of Science degree in international business with a minor in economics from California State University at Los Angeles.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012
6:00 p.m.
Hilton 100
"Thinking Globally but Acting Locally"
Yoshimi Inaba, Chairman, Toyota Motor Sales USA and Executive Advisor, Toyota Motor Corporation

The Center for Asian Business and Alpha Kappa Psi presented a special lecture on Wednesday, December 5th featuring Yoshimi Inaba, chairman of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and executive advisor for Toyota Motor Corporation. The title of his lecture was based on one of Toyota's key principles, “Thinking Globally but Acting Locally.” Toyota’s Japanese-oriented way of thinking has adapted to fit the American culture, and that is one of the reasons why the company is so successful.

During the first half hour of the lecture, Mr. Inaba provided an overview of Toyota’s global presence and impact on the automobile industry. He shared the key principles that make Toyota one of the biggest and most successful automobile companies in the world - reliability and durability. Mr. Inaba said he encourages his employees in each region to focus on being the best company in their local area rather than the entire world.

The last half hour of the lecture was spent answering questions from the audience. Questions ranged from “How did you handle the Toyota recall?” to “What’s your favorite Toyota model?” Students were treated to free pizza and soda following the event.

Mr. Inaba is chairman of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., Toyota’s U.S. sales, marketing, distribution and customer service arm in Torrance, Calif. He also serves as an executive advisor of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Toyota’s parent company in Japan. Mr. Inaba is responsible for Toyota’s sales, marketing and external affairs operations in the U.S. He began his career with TMC in 1968 and has reached many achievements, such as being named to TMC’s Board of Directors, becoming president of TMS, becoming senior managing director at TMC, and being named executive VP. In 2007, he was appointed president and CEO of Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd., and a senior advisor to the board of TMC. In 2009, Mr. Inaba returned to TMC in his current capacity. He has a degree in economics from Kyoto University and a MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Hilton 100
“Whose Land is This?: East Asia’s Territorial Disputes”
David Kang, Director, Korean Studies Institute and Professor of International Relations and Business, USC

On the evening of February 13th, the Center for Asian Business welcomed Dr. David Kang as its first guest speaker of the spring semester. Considered one of the top Korean experts in Los Angeles, Kang is Director of the Korean Studies Institute and Professor of International Relations and Business at USC, with appointments in both the School of International Relations and the Marshall School of Business. His lecture, titled "Whose Land is This? East Asia's Territorial Disputes," addressed the pending territorial disputes involving Korea, China and Japan over the Dokdo and Senkaku Islands.

Kang began his presentation by explaining the key differences between a border and a frontier. For example, land borders are much easier to pinpoint than maritime borders, which is why there continues to be so much conflict over these particular islands. Though Korea, China and Japan are battling it out over who owns what, Kang doesn’t believe their conflicting opinions will result in war. He argues that each country won’t back down because they’ve already staked their claim and, in the end, it’s really all about national pride.

Finally, Kang explained how this territorial dispute impacts the business and politics of these East Asian nations. In particular, he discussed how the U.S. is being affected. Up until now, he says, the U.S. has done a great job of taking a neutral stance on the issue. The U.S. is not only allies with all three countries, but is a significant trading partner, so it’s in our best interest not to get involved. Kang doesn’t know if this problem will ever be resolved; a potential solution would be joint ownership of the islands and territories. But again, national pride seems to matter most in the end.

Kang’s latest book is called "East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute." He’s also the author of "China Rising: Peace, Power and Order in East Asia," "Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines", and "Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies" (co-authored with Victor Cha). Kang has published numerous scholarly articles in journals such as International Organization and International Security, and his co-authored article “Testing Balance of Power Theory in World History” was awarded “Best article, 2007-2009,” by the European Journal of International Relations. Kang has also written opinion pieces in The New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as writing a monthly column for the Joongang Ilbo in Korean. He received an A.B. with honors from Stanford University and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Hilton 100
"Creating Value Through Design: Company and Country Perspectives from East Asia"
Deepa Prahalad, Author and Business Strategist

For the final Y.B. Min lecture of the semester, the Center for Asian Business welcomed Deepa Prahalad, an author and business strategist specializing in opportunities at the intersection of consumer experience, technology and strategy. In her presentation, titled “Creating Value through Design: Company and Country Perspectives from East Asia,” Prahalad discussed the role of design in creating value, the ingredients of good design and how this applies to Asian countries in particular.

Prahalad discussed the success of great brands such as Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola and Samsung and how they have created awareness of the value of design to business. Design today is an important source of strategic advantage for entrepreneurs, established companies and countries. Her talk focused on case studies of how companies and countries have used design to build brands and create a sphere of influence.

According to Prahalad, strategic challenges such as co-creation, customer experience, globalization, innovation and new business model creation all require design. Today, we’re seeing a convergence of brand and design. Leading brands such as Nike, Apple, McDonald’s and Mercedes are all identifiable by their logo alone. These brands have a distinct look, feel and experience, and the experience must be valued by the consumers. Prahalad went on to address how emotional connections often lead to business results.

At the conclusion of her lecture, she highlighted the following points:

  1. Behavior is as important as income
  2. There is a convergence of quantitative and qualitative data
  3. Looking at emotions creates obligations for companies
  4. A great design still needs a great business model

Passionate about emerging markets and innovation, Prahalad has worked as a management consultant with firms from start-ups to large multinationals. She researched and co-authored the book, Predictable Magic: Unleash the Power of Design Strategy to Transform Your Business. Prahalad speaks on design strategy and emerging markets at business schools and at global and government forums on the importance of design as a competitive innovation. Prahalad received a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.