Sharon van Etten
- Senior Business Development Manager
- Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)
Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 9 (as of May 2020)
I started learning Japanese at age 12 and first came to Japan at age 16 on a high school exchange program. One of my first memories of Japan was flying directly over the summit of a snow-capped Mount Fuji. Unfortunately, my camera was packed away in my luggage so I couldn’t take a photo. But I felt a connection to Japan from that very first day.
Our biggest regrets are usually what we don’t do, so my motto is to always accept new challenges and make the most of every opportunity. I’m very conscious that, thanks to my education and a lot of hard work, I have been very fortunate to have unique opportunities that many others have not — such as the chance to study in Japan.
I am very proud to be able to represent Australia in Japan and play a role in supporting our bilateral relationship. A particular highlight was being a part of the Australian delegation at G20 meetings hosted in Japan last year.
Professionally, my goal is to support Australian companies doing business in Japan. It is a challenging time right now with all of the uncertainty in the global economy, but Australia and Japan share a very strong trade and investment partnership that we can build on. Personally, my goal is to visit all 47 Japanese prefectures — I have only seven to go.
There is a phrase in Japanese that means to “read the air” that I consider to be good advice. Listen and observe what is going on around you as much as possible because you can be much more effective once you gauge the mood of the room and understand the underlying situation.