Alumni Voice: Ms. Kazura Koda (Class of 2021)

Leading a Project that Transcends Company Boundaries: Using What I Learned at Shizenkan

Ms. Kazura Koda Class of 2021 (Academic Distinction, Leadership Distinction)

Could you give us a brief introduction to your current job?


I am on the Carbon Desk of the Energy Sales Strategy Department for a leading Japanese shipping company, and I am in charge of exploring Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) (*1) and planning for carbon credit trading and utilization. For my Shizenkan graduation project (*2), I created a plan for a carbon credit business utilizing blue carbon. After graduation, I proposed full-scale commercialization of the project through the internal program of my company, and in January of this year, I was able to officially establish a new carbon business team and release our participation in the Blue Carbon Restoration and Conservation business. It is said that the next 10 years will be especially important for climate change, and I would like to bring as much positive impact as possible to society and the Planet through my project.


(*1) It refers to the removal and storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There are two types of CO2 removal: nature-based, including afforestation and blue carbon (mangrove, sea grass, etc.), and technology-based, using chemical engineering technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.


(*2) At the start of the second year of Shizenkan’s MBA program, students are divided into seminars of five to six students; over eight months of seminar activities, they make a presentation and a concept paper on what challenges they will tackle as future leaders for the culmination of their two years of studies.


Where have you worked previously?


For the past 10 years, I have been working in the energy-related field at my current company. For the first four years after I joined the company, I was involved in the operation of tankers that transport petroleum products, and I was responsible for connecting ships with domestic and overseas customers, mainly for tri-nation transportation. One of the most stimulating experiences was the training of local staff and the creation of a system in Houston for the launch of an alliance business with a partner in North and South America. For the next six years, I worked in a department related to LNG shipping, where I was in charge of long-term charter contracts with customers in the Middle East and Europe, as well as sales operations for new contracts. I was able to experience firsthand the wave of decarbonization that was sweeping through the energy industry, and the awareness of the issues and sense of crisis I gained there has led me to my current work.


How did your career journey develop after your graduation?


I didn’t want to leave my seminar project as just an empty theory, so I am now using the company’s employee proposal system to put into practice what I learned at Shizenkan as an intrapreneur. I took a year off from my regular duties to pursue a full-time business venture. I was able to get off to a very good start by having my issues pointed out in advance by faculty and classmates through the seminar. It seems that there are three patterns of employees in a company: #1) those who are waiting for an order, #2) those who are building their career, and #3) those who have their own mission. Before studying at Shizenkan, I was employee #2, just following the rails given to me by the company, but now I am employee #3, and I feel like I am going down a road without a path toward my own mission. Although I am anxious, I am strangely more excited thanks to the presence of my colleagues and partners who sympathize and support me.


How do you reflect on your experience at Shizenkan and its impact on your career? 


I think what I learned at Shizenkan that has particularly influenced my career is “the ability to take the initiative and think of everything as my own business” and “the readiness to accept the responsibility that comes with my position.”

I had been working for 10 years, and before I knew it, I was stuck in the narrow confines of a company, spending my days with a vague sense of anxiety and a lack of initiative. Through the Shizenkan program and discussions with my respected mentors and classmates, I was able to break out of the narrow shell that had confined me, and I began to think about what I wanted to do and what I could do about the environmental and social problems that were occurring around the world. In addition, although I used to make excuses for not taking action, I now understand that the environment I am in is made up of many people, and I am prepared to accept the responsibility that comes with that environment with humbleness, which has made my ownership of my career much stronger. I feel that I have a much stronger sense of ownership over my career.


What do you aspire to do as the next step in your leadership journey?


When I started thinking about the concept during the seminar, it was just a project for me alone, but now, thankfully, I feel that it has become a “project for everyone” supported by the empathy of many people, including Shizenkan, the company, and external partners. I would like to further expand this circle of sympathy and bring even a small positive impact to society and the planet through this project. In addition to the fact that climate change is a race against time, as a business, it is extremely important to work with a sense of speed in a rapidly changing environment, and I would like to build up best practices one by one utilizing trial and error at high speed.


What would you say to someone who is thinking of studying at Shizenkan?


For those who have already found their own mission, and for those who have a vague sense of anxiety about their future like me before, Shizenkan is a unique place for growth where you can make as many mistakes as you like and learn while encouraging each other with many wonderful classmates. With the motto, “Regret doing something, rather than regret not doing it”, I hope you will make the most of the environment at Shizenkan and spend a fulfilling two years there. I will support you from the bottom of my heart.


LinkedIn Profile of Kazura Koda

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