Career Discussion with Ms. Kumi Ito (CEO at 4U Lifecare Inc.)

The IR College offers the “Professional Workshop” course designed to help students identify their career interests and examine various options to be pursued after graduation. It invites distinguished guest speakers from various fields of expertise.

On 12 June 2020, Ms. Kumi Ito, the CEO of 4U Lifecare Inc., gave a special lecture and spoke about her career history, titled “Career Innovation”. Her company is a healthcare startup providing an Uber-like professional matching service for nurses in Japan.

JDP Special Program (Ms. Ito)
The lecture was given to students participating from countries and areas such as Japan, Korea, etc. The JDP students in the first and third cohorts took part in the class. While university classes have been taught remotely due to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the lecture was a good opportunity for the JDP students to interact across the cohorts.

Ms. Ito started her career at Sony, where she was engaged in management planning and marketing. Then she decided to leave the company due to her husband’s job transfer, and become a stay-at-home mom. After returning to work as a contract employee at Sony Kyushu Branch, she joined IBM in 1998 and specialized in innovation and management consulting for new projects and marketing. In 2009, she was appointed to be the director and international assignee to Corporate Strategy at IBM’s US headquarters. In 2014, she took a position of the CMO of GE Healthcare Japan. She made a decision to move to 4U Lifecare Inc., being appointed as the Member of the Board in 2016. She has served as the CEO of 4U Lifecare since 2018. Ms. Ito is an accomplished jazz vocalist.

Ms. Ito reflected on her own career and said, “Job hopping is job stacking for me”. An account of her career history was accompanied by her unique life experiences. To cite a case, she left GE Healthcare and planned to take a year off. Being determined to do everything she had wanted to, she even listed 100 things to do, but was invited to join 4U lifecare.

JDP Special Program (Ms. Ito)-2
In a question and answer session, students asked a number of questions. These included the difference in recruiting criteria between Japanese and Western corporations and how to prepare for job hunting in a student’s final year. One of the students asked if Mr. Ito, as a working woman and a mother, had faced any challenges in her career. She gave advice from a working woman’s point of view.
Another question was, “what is the key for successfully switching to a completely new job?”. Reflecting on her experience at IBM, she answered, “Don’t hesitate to question anything you don’t know”. Then she moved on to consider that introducing ideas and experiences gained in her former job actually stimulated her new workplace.

She finally emphasized, “it is OK to not always plan because unplanned events could lead to good careers”, drawing on the theory of planned happenstance introduced by Stanford Professor John D. Krumboltz. The students also learnt that traits such as curiosity, flexibility and risk-taking must be developed to take advantage of opportunities. Through her lecture, Ms. Ito gave an encouragement and lessons that would enable them to pursue their own career in the future.

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