Ayako Mochizuki, having spent more than three decades in the US, embodied the American spirit more than her Japanese roots. She looked, dressed, and behaved American. When she became the successor of her father’s company, IBS Japan Co Ltd, she moved into an unfamiliar culture and was a stranger to many things surrounding her. Despite this, Ayako’s tenacity, profound knowledge, and unique perspective allowed her to stand out and earn recognition, winning the coveted ‘Outstanding Female Company Executive’ award by a prestigious Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (Daily Industrial News).
Not without battles and hurdles
Becoming a CEO wasn’t a walk in the park for Ayako. She had to weather the storm, fight a few battles, and navigate a few minefields along the way. But she rolled up her sleeves and made it happen! For Ayako, the pursuit of power, money, and status was never the driving force behind her success. Rather, it was the opportunity to connect with fellow CEOs, thought leaders, and women entrepreneurs that truly motivated and inspired her.
“The culture in Japan was to work late and end the day drinking with clients. Imagine me doing that in a bar full of men and female hostesses”, said Ayako. My own team called me a black sheep because I was not male and hence did not look like a leader. But when I won the award, I think their perspective about me changed,” she added.
No guts no glory
Despite the business’s foundation in web and digital marketing, Ayako recognized the need for a more personal touch in connecting with customers. To achieve this, she made a bold decision to bring on technical salespeople who could directly communicate with customers worldwide. Ayako’s calculated gamble ultimately paid off, resulting in a 30% increase in direct sales for the company, and soon, IBS became the third WBE in Japan to be certified. While some employees and top managers initially opposed this move by calling it “feminist,” Ayako knew where she was heading.
“In 2020, J&J purchased a premium product from us just after one online presentation. Soon Accenture and many domestic companies wanted to associate with us, thanks to WEConnect International’s certification and networking events. We made significant sales and are now waiting for many more deals to be closed. Our association with WEConnect International has been truly valuable,” said Ayako.
With a vision to be the only company in enabling IT in industries such as energy, transportation and factories, IBS has rewritten their company mission to ‘Together we create future’. When asked about her advice to other women entrepreneurs, Ayako said “Be bold, express yourself, be comfortable with who you are and don’t worry about what others say about you. Put your heart into everything you do. Do what you love.”
Here’s to rolling more dices and coming out on top!