Be Strong and Flexible: A Changemaker Chat
with Sachiyo Minegishi

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Chat with Sachiyo Minegishi on May 22nd! We’ve compiled some of Sachiyo’s inspiring philosophies on strength, self care, and success.

A Professional Journey   
Sachiyo’s professional journey from investment banking to biotech has been a daunting, but exciting journey. She didn’t know how she would make the industry shift, but she knew she wanted to be a part of something bigger and create something. She credits her success to “lots of luck,” and surrounding herself with people that helped her to be the best version of herself. “The key is being able to see that luck and make it an opportunity.”

Sachiyo’s grandfather is a Japanese man who entered the import/export cotton trade at a time where he didn’t speak the language of any of the leading markets. Sachiyo says what makes his curiosity so inspirational is that he was not only curious about the countries he visited, but was genuinely interested in the people as well. This mindset has integrated itself into Sachiyo’s own practices. As a leader, she focuses not on what she can do, but on how she can impact other people.

From Do-er to Leader  
As someone with a strong work ethic, Sachiyo quickly realized the importance of shifting her mindset to become a strong leader. In the past, her success was measured by completing tangible tasks, but she’s found that as a leader, she needs to measure her success by helping and supporting her team, acting as the best possible resource to them. Clear communication is another key component Sachiyo identifies in streamlining this transition. Explicitly outline what tasks you will continue to do as a leader and what tasks you expect the team to do.

Setting Personal Boundaries
Every Friday night at 7pm, Sachiyo steps away from her email untill Sunday morning. “I’m the type of person that will push the limits. One hour of logging in quickly turns into three, and then you end up being always locked in.” She has realized that to effectively take a mental break and give herself time for self care, she has to set clear boundaries of when she’ll work. She brings this mindset to her team as well by not sending emails until Monday.

Asking the Right Questions
In a workplace full of tight deadlines and varying personalities, it’s easy to get stressed out. When met with a pressing deadline, Sachiyo recommends asking why that deadline is set. By asking for clarifying details and narrowing in on what is actually being asked, you may be able to find a more suitable path or plan for achieving the request.

Sachiyo’s strength lies in flexibility. Her father once told her, “Like Bamboo, you need to be both strong and flexible.” It requires so much more strength to be able to yield and really listen to what someone else has to say. This is something Sachiyo finds more often in her female peers. It requires so much patience, resilience and strength to be able to step back and consider someone else’s opinion. While she finds that there is strength in yielding, it is also important to establish communication and to not lose sight of yourself. A dialogue is a two way street and both parties need to lean in.“I am me. I’m not going to change who I am, but I am going to work with you”

Celebrating Success
Working in biotech is a high risk, high reward experience. When things go right it’s amazing, but success in this industry can be few and far between. For this reason, Sachiyo emphasizes the importance of celebrating success. Every team is going to have moments of low morale, and this can cause people to lose their sense of purpose. By celebrating even small achievements, you can re-establish people’s sense of value in the work space. Sachiyo celebrates her team’s success by identifying three wins each week and engages her team by sharing her recognitions.