Rebecca Okamoto climbed high on the corporate ladder of success with consumer goods giant, Procter & Gamble, as the first Asian American woman to reach a senior manager level at P&G in the Supply Chain and the first woman of Japanese descent to run a supply chain in Japan. However, at what would appear to be the height of her career, she made a drastic shift and launched Evoke.Pro, a virtual mentorship and leadership development consultancy. When asked about what prompted that pivot, she replied, “I know it may appear to be a drastic shift on paper, but in my mind I just really focused on people – and that’s always what I’ve been passionate about.”
Armed with a passion for mentorship (especially for Asian Americans, and women), Okamoto delivers talks and workshops for companies and community groups, inspiring her audiences to be tenacious while in pursuit of their goals.
As she reflected on her own path to success, Okamoto described how a former manager and mentor helped transform her from an unremarkable manager, to a great leader. “He gave me a job I did not want, he put me in charge of safety for a plant with over 650 staff members. It was a difficult job, and he gave me a nearly impossible goal. But within a year, I not only met that goal, I exceeded it,” she recalled. “He helped me unlock my potential, and led me to see the impact I had on the lives of others.” She sees her role as mentor and leadership coach as but one way to pay that gift forward, by helping others to unlock their potential, and helping others to overcome barriers.
As a 3rd generation Japanese-American (Sansei), Okamoto recalls that her parents and extended family had always modeled strength and resilience. Her mother, a physician, was one of the first female doctors in Japan, and also a Hiroshima survivor; her father was the first Japanese American Lutheran minister and had the first Japanese mission church in Los Angeles; she also mentioned how distant relatives were interned in camps during WWII, and how that history set the precedence for deeply entrenched values of courage, grit, and tenacity. “They taught me how important it is to fulfill our potential, in order to help others fulfill theirs. I was always taught to never give up,” she said. “While I was always timid, I was raised not to be a quitter; failure was not an option.”
Rebecca Okamoto will deliver 2 workshops in ACEL’s Dynamics of Leadership Conference in July, one on personal branding, a second on refining your elevator pitch; she will also act as the keynote speaker for the luncheon, discussing “How to hack the humility trap.”
“It’s important for Asian-Americans to understand that it’s possible to be vibrant, and humble at the same time,” she said. “When you choose to speak up and do the right thing, you stay true to your values, and you’ll rise in your career at the same time.”
ACEL's vision is to be the proving ground for Asian American Professionals, forging leaders of tomorrow through professional development, cultural awareness, community service and mentorship. To learn more about our member benefits or if you would like to join the ACEL family, you can visit http://www.ACELphoenix.org