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Heather McLeish

EY Japan

Date of birth: April 8

Hometown: Springfield, Massachusetts

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 15 (as of September 2019)

Heather McLeish
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

I first came to Japan when I was 19. It was my first trip to Asia and a dream come true. I had spent my childhood in Western Massachusetts dreaming of far off lands and was finally able to compare my accumulated book knowledge with the real thing. I was overwhelmed! Tokyo was so massive and alien to me. I was charmed and challenged by Japan. I still am!

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

My motto, and my ‘dad joke’ are the same, “shōga aru!” I have never been comfortable with the defeatist undertones of the common Japanese phrase “shōganai (it can't be helped),” In reply to this I say “shōga aru yo!” It actually means “there is ginger,” but people nearly always get that what I’m saying is to never give up — there’s always a way of changing things for the better!

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

In recent years, I am very proud of helping build the EY Japan Climate Change and Sustainability Services team. This team of consummate professionals works hard to support Japanese companies identify and manage their sustainability risks, as well as identify opportunities to make positive impacts. It feels great to be doing satisfying work in an area that directly benefits society.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

My specific goals are always changing as I accomplish them. My greater goals, and the way I approach my life, is to constantly be improving myself by being thoughtful and honest about who I am, what I want and where I am going. I want to be a better person overall and contribute positively to my local and global community.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

If you want to make the most out of living in Japan, get out of your comfort zone and connect with the Japanese and your community. Don’t spend all your time with other foreigners because your experience will be filtered by theirs. Don’t be afraid to be in awkward situations and try to make meaningful connections with Japanese people. This is the good stuff and how you really can see, feel, smell, hear and touch the heart of Japan.

Last updated: Sep 30, 2019