Changing Takihyo with American Brashness
Ten months after I joined Takihyo and established the raincoat factory in Okinawa, my father passed away. I suggested to the company’s executives that my mother take my father’s place as Takihyo’s president and that I take the office of vice president. I felt that as a carrier of the Taki name with an older, more experienced face, my mother would create a better image for the company. I must admit that I was terrified to replace my father at the company so suddenly. I feared the responsibility, and I worried that I might not live up to the successes that people had come to expect from my lineage. Having my mother as the figurehead would allow me to avoid bearing sole responsibility.
At only 26, I did not believe I was ready for such intense responsibility. The executives, however, vetoed my suggestion. Perhaps they weren’t ready for a woman to run a company so anchored in tradition; perhaps Japan’s culturally deep-seated paternalism made me president. Although I had disagreed and fought with these same men before, I knew I wouldn’t win the battle this time. It not only had been a tradition within the Taki family to pass the torch from father to son, but, despite my lack of managerial experience, I was technically of age. The board believed in me and what I could offer the company—perhaps more than I believed in myself. With the board’s trust and my own motivation, I could only do my best and embrace my new role as president.