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Nissan: Nissan Legend Kyoko Shimada: Hailed as a "Pioneer"

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Kyoko Shimada grew adult in Tokyo. She assimilated Nissan Motor as a engineer in 1967 after graduating from a Japan Women’s University with a vital in architecture. She worked in several fields, including product planning, a corporate temperament project, sales planning, open relations, corporate citizenship activities, and corporate amicable shortcoming (CSR).

After she late in 2005, she served as a director, secretary general, and part-time techer during a Japan Women’s University. Since Sep 2010, she has been a deputy director, executive ubiquitous of a Yokohama Arts Foundation. She has also hold several other positions in society, including portion as a member of a Central Council for Education of a Ministry of Education, a chairperson of a CSR Committee during Keidanren, and a executive of a nonprofit organization, among others. As a colonize of womanlike appearance not usually inside Nissan nonetheless also in Japanese society, Kyoko Shimada continues to be really active and to attract courtesy for her change on society.


During a 80-year story of swell and development, Nissan has undergone a series of vital transformations, including among others a employing of womanlike designers brazen of a final of a times so as to implement their singular capabilities, a execution of a tellurian code devise formed on corporate temperament initiatives, and a mutation of sales activities from door-to-door sales to sales during play showrooms.

Kyoko Shimada was one of a pivotal players holding on a hurdles concerned in these far-from-minor reforms and mostly she served as a celebrity of these efforts. Having examination this far, many readers competence be astounded by this and warn can be deliberate a healthy response.

Three months after birth with her parents, during a collateral of Manchuria. (May, 1945)

After all, a theatre was an automaker, and even nonetheless Nissan has always been characterized by a comparatively magnanimous and open corporate culture, it was undisputedly a male-dominated company, as was a box with other automakers around a world. It is satisfactory to contend that Kyoko Shimada’s career overlaps with a story of hurdles during Nissan and with a story of a allege of women in a vehicle industry.

“To tell we a truth, when we assimilated Nissan, we suspicion I’d usually work there for dual or 3 years. we meant for it to be a proxy job,” she confessed.

Since we are really informed with her purpose as a colonize in successive years, these difference of hers are utterly surprising. But her integrity to be loyal to herself was a pushing force behind her superb career, that in spin contributed severely to a enlargement of Nissan into a tellurian company.

She was innate in northern China 6 months before a finish of World War II and grew adult in Tokyo, where she complicated pattern during a Japan Women’s University. Despite her major, she motionless to work during Nissan as she thought: “It wouldn’t be a bad suspicion to knowledge a opposite universe before apropos an architect.” She was employed as a designer.

This was in 1967, that was still 19 years before a Equal Employment Opportunity Act for Men and Women took outcome in Japan and a time when women’s active appearance in all areas of multitude had nonetheless to take base in Japan. Shimada recalls: “There wasn’t a singular womanlike engineer during any of a automakers in Japan during that time, nonetheless Nissan famous brazen of other vehicle companies that it was required to get a woman’s submit into vehicle pattern given any domicile was about to possess a car.”

At a graduation rite of Japan Women’s University with her friends of pattern subject. (March,1967. Shimada, 2nd chairman from right side). Shimada started off her career as a initial womanlike engineer in a Japanese vehicle industry.


It was a time when a vehicle was a pitch of Japan’s post-war reformation and high mercantile growth, as good as an intent of enterprise among a public. Most of her co-workers, including engineers and peers in other departments, not to discuss a staff of around 50 designers, were group who were good capable in automobiles. Despite anticipating herself in this environment, Shimada was not utterly meddlesome in cars as modernized machine operated by drivers.

Instead – or rather, given of that – she had singular strengths that her masculine colleagues lacked. “Living space” is how she saw a car. It was a vital space that also had a duty of mobility, a space for not usually a motorist nonetheless also a passengers in a front and behind seats, as good as other elements, such as contrariety and harmonization with a outward world. Shimada also deliberate a vehicle to be a space where a users themselves could demonstrate their possess lifestyles and identities.

Shimada was reserved to work on colors and interior designs for newcomer cars. Trying to get some inspiration, she browsed around dialect stores to get a feel for what was in for not usually women’s nonetheless also men’s conform and colors and visited several places to see worldly and bijou buildings and furniture.

She due stylish blues, browns and whites during a time when a exteriors of central oppulance vehicles were all black, accidentally severe stereotypes that nobody had ever before suspicion of questioning.

Looking behind on that time, Shimada said, “I mostly hear people observant ‘because there’s no precedent.’ But carrying no fashion can’t be an forgive of not doing something differently. If there is no precedent, since not make one? Once there is a case, others will follow in a healthy way.”

During a revisit to Fuji International Speedway with other womanlike designers (around 1970. Shimada, 3rd chairman from right side)

She feels that her approach of coming things competence have been shabby by her training in a artistic margin of architecture, as good as her possess practice during Nissan. But that’s not all. She added: “Ever given we was a small girl, we was never spooky with winning competitions. Instead, we always suspicion that we would do something that usually we could do, even while always being wakeful of a purpose that was approaching of me.”

As she clinging herself to her several assignments, she formulated a suspicion of “getting some-more concerned in vehicle enlargement from a broader perspective.” In time she was eliminated to a Design and Development Division. For her, who had no imagination in this area, it was a vital career change that amounted to starting over from scratch. It was indeed challenging. By then, 7 years has upheld given she had assimilated Nissan, that she had deliberate a proxy arrangement.

Enriched practice in a totally new margin of a Design and Development Division following her initial assignment during a Design Department (at a Head Office Showroom)


At a Design and Development Division with her higher and colleagues. (around 1974. Shimada, 2nd chairman from left side)


In 1974, her eighth year during Nissan, Shimada was eliminated to a Design and Development Division, where she devised new products formed on a commentary of marketplace research.

There was one thing in sole that she had beheld while examination generations of Nissan products hurl by as partial of her work. The logos and badges were all opposite from one indication to a subsequent and a colors and typographies of play signboards, product leaflets, and product brochures were all different. She began to ask herself: “What is Nissan-ness? Perhaps it’s time to cruise a tellurian code devise for a new era?”

On a business outing to New York, a initial abroad business outing by a womanlike worker during a time.

In 1980, she was given an event to go abroad to learn some-more about this issue. Soon after, in 1981, she was named one of 5 members of a corporate temperament (CI) devise group that would news directly to a boss of a company. The project’s goal was to finish a enlargement and credentials of a devise and primer to foster a CI beginning in dual years. She was comparison to be in a vanguard of this vital transformation. After a devise group was disbanded, Shimada was eliminated to a Communication Department to continue operative on a tellurian deployment and execution of a CI plan.

“To me, a singular underline of Nissan-ness is a eagerness to take on challenges. Because of that, Nissan encourages freewheeling meditative and can build forward-looking cars that respond to a needs of a new era. The CI beginning supposing a good event to consolidate this severe spirit.”

In after years, underneath a care of CEO Carlos Ghosn, her knowledge took her to a goal of building VI (Visual Identity) as partial of a company’s tellurian code strategy.

During her time in a Communication Department, Shimada was concerned in picture origination strategy, and in 1984 she was named a initial womanlike manager during Nissan. Moving to a Business Planning Department in 1988, also as a manager, she took assign of a restoration of play showrooms nationwide. This signaled a vital change in sales character from normal door-to-door sales to new showroom-based sales activities.

“Conventional dealers that especially sole cars by door-to-door visits were usually displaying cars and as such were distant from generating a welcoming atmosphere for business to simply dump in. we suspicion that dealers should be remade to accommodate a needs of family users and to acquire womanlike drivers, whose numbers were rising neatly from a early 1980s. My ideas were translated into a investiture of infrequent café-like spaces and children’s play areas, as good as a restoration of bathrooms into clean, gentle spaces. Feminine knowledge and a designer’s viewpoint helped me greatly.”

She visited many abroad facilities, especially in Europe and North America, to foster a tellurian deployment of a CI initiative.

In 1991, Shimada was put in assign of corporate citizenship activities. Realizing a significance of such activities, many companies currently control associated programs constantly and evenly as an essential partial of their business strategies. Back then, however, few businesses in Japan deliberate such amicable programs a profitable partial of their amicable roles and promoted them accordingly.

Nissan was a celebrity among automakers in this field. Some argued a prerequisite of such programs given a Japanese economy was afterwards confronting impassioned problems and a business sourroundings was utterly daunting. But Yutaka Kume, Nissan’s boss during a time, strongly believed that corporate citizenship activities were vicious business issues for any association and closely connected with a company’s raison d’être in society. Under his leadership, a dedicated territory was determined during Nissan and Shimada was put in assign of it to safeguard a success.

“In a universe where tellurian multitude and Japanese multitude are constantly changing, we can see that societies formed on monolithic value systems are fragile. we trust that a multitude that accepts opposite value systems and a multitude where a communication of opposite values takes place can offer as an incubator for absolute army that will lead to a building of new societies.”

Working on a VI beginning in a Communication Department.


A multitude encompasses too many problems for a singular association to cope with. In sequence to conclude a transparent instruction and interpret it into a business strategy, Shimada grown a march of movement and adopted criteria for selecting an area of activities and groups to support.

One of a company’s singular corporate citizenship activities is a Nissan-NPO Learning Scholarship Program, underneath that Nissan recruits and selects students to work during NPOs and provides them with scholarships co-ordinate with their internship activities.

“This module was launched in 1998 in a wish of providing immature people with an event to rivet in egghead labor.” Referring to it as “investing in a young,” CEO Ghosn himself handed out certificates to a participants any year.

Another beginning called a Nissan Children’s Storybook and Picture Book Grand Prix has entered a 29th uninterrupted year, portion as a gateway to success for immature authors.

Awarded a Japan Mécénat Award by a Association for Corporate Support of a Arts, that honors companies and corporate foundations for superb humanities support. (Shimada, 1st chairman from left side)

Among other examples of Shimada’s work and enlargement of corporate initiatives, she promoted holding opposite ideas from multitude into a association and speedy several proffer activities among employees by providing corporate support.

In 2003, when a CSR judgment was not nonetheless widely famous in Japan, Shimada was systematic by a CEO to settle a devise group to accumulate and emanate a sustainability report. As a devise leader, she set adult a Sustainability Group within a Public Relations Department and it became a substructure of today’s CSR initiatives during Nissan.

“In fact, during a march of compiling a report, we came to trust that CSR could be a means of corporate governance. we see sustainability as a broader concept. Sustainability can assistance us examination and re-evaluate all corporate activities from a viewpoints of all stakeholders and assistance us inspire employees to rise a amicable perspective. Compiling a news led to a marker of common belligerent common by a association and society, that can secure tolerable growth. we consider that a consistent discourse with multitude can make a association an classification that is always learning.”

The pivotal difference for a corporate citizenship activities and CSR initiatives to that Shimada clinging herself were “diversity” and “a training organization.” They are pivotal difference that simulate a benefaction times, that designate Nissan constantly holding on new challenges, and that counterpart a celebrity of Kyoko Shimada.

“Because we myself do not have utterly high competencies, we can't pierce brazen though support from experts around me. From a time that we assimilated Nissan until we retired, we kept training from others. My days during Nissan done me comprehend that we like to work with people. When opposite personalities get together, they learn me things that we was not wakeful of, and we mostly have ideas we could not have come adult with on my own. we am also tender utterly mostly by a opposite meditative and feelings of others.”

At present, digest services for a graduation of art and enlightenment during a Yokohama Arts Foundation.

She spent 38 years during a association that she assimilated with a suspicion that it would usually be a proxy arrangement, staying until she reached retirement age. She followed her assignments sensitively and usually and along a way. She determined a record of achievements that constantly are competent with such difference as “the initial woman” or “the usually woman.”

“Of march we got frustrated. But when we consider about it now, we know that we gained some-more than we lost. For instance, we was given a possibility to try something new given they suspicion a lady competence move a opposite clarity and opposite abilities from a man. Creating a fashion by myself was an sparkling experience.”

Kyoko Shimada was always a pioneer, not usually during Nissan nonetheless also in a Japanese vehicle industry. Since timid from Nissan, she has remained active as a chairman who is lustful of operative with people, presumption a posts of executive executive of a Japan Women’s University and deputy executive of a Yokohama Arts Foundation, that operates 13 art-related facilities.

Shimada gave interview.

Profile of a writer: Sayuri Oka

Sayuri Oka is a author and editor who was innate in Tokyo. She graduated from a College of Literature during Aoyama Gakuin University and became a high propagandize clergyman before fasten Nigensha in 1990 as an editorial contributor for NAVI, an automotive magazine. Since 1995, when she became a freelance author and editor, she has taken advantage of being a woman, a mother, and a housewife and created several articles about automobiles and other topics. Her activities cover a far-reaching operation of fields, including producing a central website of a university and advertisements.