Posted on October 19, 2019

Qatar Leadership Centre’s (QLC) Rising Leaders Program sent its participants on a week-long Learning Journey to Japan to engage with some of the country’s most prominent corporations, in cooperation with ITOCHU Corporation in Japan, which is one of the largest Japanese companies and has strong economic ties with major energy companies in Qatar. They also met with experts to discern how the country cultivated a world-renowned drive for innovation in products and business practices.

The annual Learning Journey reinforces the Rising Leaders Program curriculum by imbuing its participants with special insights into how leaders manage and grow their organizations in the public, private, and government sectors, bolstering their leadership skillsets as they return to Qatar’s market. These journeys are supplemented by an in-depth look into the country’s history and culture to contextualise these insights.

“Japan’s economy is one of the strongest in the world, acquiring a reputation as the birthplace of ground-breaking technologies and revolutionary business practices, both of which have propelled its corporations to stand out on the global stage,” said Dr. Ali J. Al Kubaisi, Acting Managing Director at QLC. “This unique environment provides an ideal example which our Rising Leaders Program participants can analyse, specifically how they can facilitate innovation at every level of an organization’s operations.”

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The Journey’s agenda gave participants the chance to engage with some of Japan’s largest private and government companies to gain an all-inclusive view of how innovation manifests in a variety of business practices.  In addition, they engaged in thoughtful knowledge exchanges with leaders at these companies, sharing insights they gained from Qatar’s market.

To gain perspective into the private sector and the most important modern manufacturing practices, the participants visited the Toyota Motor Corporation’s headquarters in Nagoya, Japan, where they toured one of their production plants and observed how the car company developed inventive solutions to increase productivity and reduce waste on the production line. In the government sector, they were guided around the Ota Incineration Plant to explore how the principles of creative problem-solving can still be utilized to enhance the delivery of crucial public services

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Participants also had the opportunity to engage with a few of Japan’s academic partners and prominent experts in the field of industry and commerce. Dr. Florian Kohlbacher, Director of the Economist Corporate Network, North Asia, contextualized Japan’s economic growth in the post-war period to the participants, exploring how the country recovered from devastation in the wake of World War 2. The program participants visited Fujitsu’s headquarters in Tokyo, where they attended a lecture on artificial intelligence, the evolution of super computers and Fujitsu’s role in the 2020 Summer Olympics. The participants also toured the Edo-Tokyo Museum, where they dove into Japanese history and culture to ponder how they influence the country’s attitude to innovation.

In a separate lecture, Ken Kusonoki, Professor at Hitotsubashi University, explained how innovation can be fostered in the workplace, outlining how an environment of problem-solving can be nurtured from executive positions. They also networked with local academic partners, including Hitotsubashi University, where the group participated in a joint session and mingled with the university’s MBA students to exchange insights in knowledge creation and exchange. On the last day of their trip to Japan, H.E. Hassan bin Mohammed Rafei Al Emadi, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Japan, attended the participants’ final presentations and closing ceremony, which concluded their Learning Journey.

To learn more about QLC, and to apply to one of the Centre’s three National Leadership Programs, visit