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Angela Ortiz

CEO & Founder
Place To Grow
Corporate Social Responsibility, Senior Manager
adidas Japan

Date of birth: June 6,1982

Hometown: Martinez, California

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 31 (as of October 2019)

Angela Ortiz
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

My first memories of Japan are of the nature and freedom associated with Mount Fuji. My parents immigrated to Tokyo in 1988 and while waiting for our housing to be finalized we spent a few weeks in a van camping and traveling around Mount Fuji and other parts of Shizuoka, as well as Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures.

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

“There is no passion to be found in living a life that is less than what you are capable of living.” This quote from Nelson Mandela keeps me excited to continually move out of my comfort zone and eager to learn more, try more, and expand my capacity and abilities in life. It’s the foundation for the idea of “living your best life.”

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

The Santa Soul Train is a community rebuilding project for disaster-hit areas that has grown exponentially in its region-wide impact. Since its launch over eight years ago, it continually proves to be inspiring and effective in its purpose. Leading the launch of Adidas Japan’s Take Back program is another point of immense pride. It provides a much-needed service of reusing and recycling fashion and footwear to customers who want to live more sustainable lifestyles.

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

My first goal is the toughest — continue to raise my kick-ass teenage daughter into adulthood. The second is to grow as a sustainability thought leader and stakeholder creator in Japan. Thirdly, among a variety of athletic endeavors I hope to achieve, my next big goal is to run the Spartan World Championship in Tahoe, California, in 2020.

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

Make time to visit the countryside of Japan. Go as far into the countryside as you can to really experience the hospitality and beauty of Japanese culture. I recommend festivals and harvest seasons. The autumn is gorgeous and the communities in rural Japan are a refreshing contrast to the urban intensity of Tokyo. Have a good sense of humor about the culture clashes over values and mindsets. Don’t take anything personally and remember that every perceived negative trait has a positive counterpart. Japanese culture is deeply rooted and more complicated than you realize. With colleagues, sharing differences from an objective perspective, as a sort of culture “show and tell” can build ties of mutual respect. These simple interactions can enable Japanese to adopt and grow from Western values, while providing you with insights into why it's important to them. When in doubt, take a break. Get up, get out and then get back in.

Last updated: Oct 28, 2019