Tokyo Institute of Technology: International lawyer Sugino speaks at Tokyo Tech Academy for Leadership’s 4th Global Leadership Cafe

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The Tokyo Tech Academy for Leadership (ToTAL) held its 4th Global Leadership Cafe on August 2. Forty people including Tokyo Tech students, faculty, staff, and members of the general public participated. This time, international lawyer Scott Sugino joined the event, encouraging participants to “Embrace the Beginner Life.”

Global Leadership Cafe is an online lecture series that features internationally active guest speakers from Japan and elsewhere who share their unique perspectives on leadership and hold discussions and Q&A sessions with participants. The lecture series, planned by Institute for Liberal Arts and ToTAL Professor Lorinda Kiyama, started last year after the academy considered the kinds of events that could be held for the Tokyo Tech community and the general public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After graduating from Harvard University, Sugino went on to study at Hitotsubashi University where he earned a master‘s degree in economics, and later earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. He currently represents technology companies and technology-focused investors in their global business activities at an international law firm, and has spent his career working between Japan and the United States.

Sugino told his story while encouraging participants to embrace being a beginner as the first step to accomplishing one’s life and professional goals. From learning Japanese as a university student to leading high profile cross-border M&A transactions, Sugino shared the importance of adopting a beginner mindset, persevering through challenges, and developing new skills to find success in our ever-changing world.

He spoke about the significance of continuously learning and challenging new things as a beginner while sharing examples of his experiences of suffering when trying to keep up with others at university. He explained what he is currently learning as a lawyer working in the technology field where the most rapid changes are occurring today. Sugino, a fourth-generation Japanese American, also shared the story of his grandparents and parents who experience difficult times living in the US during World War II, and spoke about running marathons, a hobby that lies behind his positive attitude when taking on new challenges.

A lively Q&A session followed Sugino’s talk. The audience asked him about suggestions on how to find opportunities for international collaborations, the challenges of handling businesses with disruptive technologies, tips to efficiently perform various tasks within a limited time, and ideas on how to constantly learn new concepts and languages. Sugino answered each question in a thoughtful and respectful way while sharing his own experiences and specific examples so the audience could clearly understand and relate to his thoughts.

To conclude the event, Kabir Shahriar, a 2nd-cohort student at ToTAL and 3rd-year doctoral student at the School of Engineering who served as chairperson for the event, thanked Sugino for his insightful and inspiring lecture and the participants for joining the event.

Comments from participants
I think it is a good suggestion to never be afraid of being a beginner. Technologies develop very quickly today, so it is necessary to keep learning new things. We should own a positive attitude to meet the new challenges in our work and life. This lecture helped me to have a better attitude towards learning new things!
The lecture was a valuable opportunity to hear the experiences of Mr. Sugino. I want to participate in these kinds of events again in the future.
This was a great chance to hear Mr. Sugino’s personal experiences and advice on business. I knew nothing about the Japanese American community in the US, so I was surprised when he talked about his family’s adversity. I like how he gave us tips, always with concrete examples. His lecture was helpful and insightful to me.

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