tokueinterview“Do you want to head a company?” Her answer was once “Not yet.”

A year later, she landed in Kuala Lumpur Airport with mission to set up a group company in Malaysia. Dr. Kihoko Tokue, an energetic woman, and one of a major force of Leave a Nest Japan’s international business development, shares her vision to change Japan and South East Asian countries with her passion.

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President

Kihoko Tokue Ph.D.

Broadening the Field of Challenge for Incoming Members

It was two and half years ago when she joined Leave a Nest as an internship student. Leave a Nest is a Japanese Bio venture company established 12 years ago to bridge gaps between different sectors involving science education and research development. Their original service was to deliver fun and educational science workshops to school children. As the business expanded, it because one of the major science communication company in Japan. At the time she joined Leave a Nest, the company at the time already had a branch in Singapore and America. With her skills and experience, she become one of the core members of the international business development. Team for instance, she helped to coordinate a tour for Japanese professors to bio-tech companies and research institutes in Singapore. She also brought Japanese high school students to Harvard University and MIT in the U.S., and to universities in Australia.

Having worked in Leave a Nest for two years, she started to feel more and more comfortable at what she was doing. When she saw new members welcomed to the company in 2013, she realized that it’s time to move on to the next stage. “Two and a half years has passed, and I was involved in so many interesting projects, and I learned a lot. And now I want to contribute to expand our business further in Asia, so that new members can try out variety of challenges than what we currently have. Also I noticed that being asked to head a company is a once in a life time opportunity. I didn’t “Do you want to head a company?” Her answer was once “Not yet.” A year later, she landed in Kuala Lumpur Airport with mission to set up a group company in Malaysia. Dr. Kihoko Tokue, an energetic woman, and one of a major force of Leave a Nest Japan’s international business development, shares her vision to change Japan and South East Asian countries with her passion. want to regret it by letting this chance go away. We can live our lives only once.”

Boarder Hoppers Meets Leave a Nest

She was originally born in Tokyo grew up in Singapore and Thailand. For her undergraduate education, she moved to US to attend university. Afterwards, she moved to Australia to carry out field-work, and finally completed her Ph.D. in Japan. To majority of the people who live, study, and work in a country of birth, it may seems such an effort to move from one country to another. “I was simply following my passion and interests” she says with a smile. So how did she find Leave a Nest in the first place? Surprisingly, it was a copy of magazine incu-be which was on a table at her laboratory in Japan which caught her attention. “I remember that there is a gap even between researchers themselves. If scientists can communicate and collaborate across disciplines, we can tackle more complicated problems. These kind of activities are usually carried out by NPOs or NGOs, so I was very surprised that Leave a Nest, is providing these services as a business. That got my interest, to apply for an internship.”

Going Back to Malaysia, Where Her New Challenge Begins

In the middle of October 2013, she landed on Malaysia to establish Leave a Nest Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. She has visited the country a year before for marketing research related to bio-tech products. Here she is back again, but this time, to create Leave a Nest group company. At this time, she met some new partners, professors, industries and government officers, who share the same values as Leave a Nest. They pointed out that young people in the country are also losing interests in Science. “Malaysian professors want students to go beyond their comfort zones and take more chances. For instance, they want Malaysian students to go abroad and get international experience, however, they also want them to come back again to stimulate the country.” Indeed, the Malaysian government declared a vision called Wawasan 2020, which is targeting to achieve a self-sufficient industrialized nation by the year 2020. “I should respect the way they are, but also share knowledge to better ourselves.” She noticed that Leave a Nest can become a gateway for Japan and Malaysia as a start.

So what kind of exciting projects does she have in her mind? She wants to startup field surveys or workshops in Malaysia, to provide experiences for kids to observe and collect data from real nature. Especially for city children in Malaysia and from other countries. “Not only kids in Malaysia but communication training for university students as well so that they can help the workshop.”

She welcomes anyone who can appreciate passion to better their country, and especially to those who want to try new things, and aren’t afraid of moving forward. She wants to work with them towards mutual goal. “I’m not forcing existing values or answers to them. Of course we can apply lessons learnt from the past, however, these solutions may need to be modified based on different cultures or background of the country.” She calmly smiles with conviction. (writer – Nami Akinaga)

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