One-on-one with: Chika Narukawa, head of strategic delivery at ANZ Japan

Chika Narukawa is ANZ Japan’s Head of Strategic Delivery, leader of their Women’s Initiative program, a passionate advocate for women in leadership and a role model to many aspiring female talent.

Here, we talk to her about her advice on working your way up the leadership ladder, how she juggles work-life balance as a mum and the changing landscape for women in Japan.

Can you tell us more about your job? What does Head of Strategic Delivery at ANZ do?

I support the CEOs of Japan and Korea at ANZ in all areas of work including strategy building, project and initiative management, process improvement, market feedback and business performance analysis, and execution of mid-term plan to align with the global strategy. In addition, I am also tasked as the champion of marketing and communications for both markets to ensure we maintain visibility.

How do you develop skills for strategy making? Is this something that comes from experience? How can talent start to accumulate experience for a strategy role later?

I started my career as a management consultant at a consulting firm, so I learnt my basic analytical skills there from data analysis, logical thinking to project management. However, strategy building does not come from text-books and problem solving skills require communication skills. Without understanding the issues, it is difficult to gauge the approach to take in addressing the issues, neither do we know how to break down the root problems that cause the issues. Without asking the stakeholders the right questions, it’s difficult to tackle those issues and solve them appropriately.

Every job requires communication skills, so if young talents want to pursue a strategy role later, they do not have to work in corporate planning at the start of their career, but wherever they work, they can develop this skill in any occasion, if they understand this basic skill is crucial in the end.

In addition, it is beneficial to get involved in cross-divisional activities like CSR activities as it helps with coordination and influencing skills.

What advice will you give young female talents if they want to progress their career into leadership roles?

Every opportunity allows one to grow.  Positive thinking and proactive-ness will help you climb up the career ladder. We can also say; let’s have a ‘Growth Mind-set’. If you have passion, it’s better to use your energy wisely to solve issues rather than be complacent and complain.

As a working mother, what are your tips to work life balance?

Luckily, I do not feel stressed about being a working mum! I like my job and I enjoy my life. Keeping a balance is crucial and it is my motto for life. Luckily, I work at ANZ which fully supports Diversity and Inclusion and encourages flexible working arrangement. When my child is in need of my attention and I need to work from home, my manager supports it and it’s just as effective as working at the office. This is not only for working parents, but for all, that’s why we call “All Roles Flexible” to encourage this scheme globally and locally in Japan as well.

We can choose partners who live together and who have shared responsibilities to raise children together without stress, and we can choose where we work. Like the right partner in the life, it’s good to choose the right company for your working style and motivation. It’s good to understand about the companies’ purposes and visions/ missions and how they emphasize on Diversity.

We use 30% of our time every day for work. If those 30% is not productive enough because of stress, we should change environments in a constructive way. This is one basic step to be a healthy working person before talking about a working mother.

Then, as a working mother, it’s good to have the shared responsibilities to raise children with partners. This is not working mothers’ matter, but working parents’ matter. I hope the society should also understand more shared responsibilities, regardless of gender.

As a female talent in Japan, what challenges and obstacles do you face? Do you see the landscape and society changing for the better? What advices will you give young female talents working in Japan?

I feel that the society has evolved, the world is changing and there are a lot more room for passionate female to pursue a full-fledged career while having the balance at home.. To have a positive career path, which fits own working style by keeping balance, it’s better to develop your strong skills or skills which you have confidence in. With strong skills, you can develop own career paths, without waiting, but proactively you can build up your career.

Japanese companies usually assign each person’s jobs on rotation, so some of the young professionals working there may think they do not know what they will do next. However, it’s good to show your career vision proactively to your bosses or mentors, and if so some of them capture what you would like to do.

Career path is a path with many directions, and building the path by yourself is an interesting part of career development. Often people say “there are no role-models around me”, but there are no one-size-fits all perfect role models for everyone as everyone’s career visions are different and everyone’s work-life-balance is different, but if you see many profiles and cases through articles/networking, you can find some parts from some role models, and other parts from other role models, and you can build own role models for your own. To do that, it’s good to understand career profiles which you have interests, by seeing how they build their career and how they reach the current position.

If you would like to develop your cross-functional and leadership skills while also expanding your professional network through our programs, please get in touch today. Our Tokyo programs are customised to Japanese culture and co-created with bilingual trainers with many years experience in corporate culture.


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