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  • Writer's pictureKaty Sperry

Torrey Project Announces New Board Chair: Yumiko Damashek

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Torrey Project is very pleased to announce the new Chair of our Board of Directors, Yumiko Damashek. Yumiko is a highly experienced businesswoman who has been with Torrey Project from the very beginning as a founding board member. Yumiko’s strong background and leadership in global business, her track record of promoting multi-stakeholder capitalism in a corporate environment, and her passion for empowering underserved communities of entrepreneurs make her an ideal leader for Torrey Project’s Board of Directors.

Torrey Project’s CEO, David Ferran, said the following of Yumiko’s appointment: “As a long time high level executive in the global semiconductor industry, Yumiko brings vision, leadership and international reach to the Torrey Project. It is a great honor to have her as the leader of our Board."

Torrey Project’s 3 Areas of Focus for 2020

Yumiko has outlined three main areas of focus for Torrey Project for the coming year:

1. Connecting the Dots

Yumiko says: “I would like to find ways to work together with other like-minded organizations more aggressively. We are beginning to do it already. Let’s connect the dots. There are so many organizations with similar missions but if we work in silos, we can’t make a sea change quickly enough. This is already a bold and audacious project and if we don’t partner with others it will take 100 years to get to where we want to go.”

Torrey Project has already formed strong partnerships with a number of universities throughout the US, is building global partnerships with leaders in multiple continents, and has partnered with local and national diplomacy councils to share resources and expertise. These partnerships continue to lead to new opportunities for both Torrey Project and our partner organizations as we collaborate to accelerate the global transition from conventional “investor-focused capitalism" to the more conscious and inclusive form of "stakeholder-focused capitalism."

Throughout her career, Yumiko has specialized in building strong relationships between international teams and companies. This photo shows her at a Taiwan Operations team building event.

2. Reaching Out and Educating Underserved Entrepreneurs

Torrey Project has already made significant steps toward expanding our startup incubator programs to serve traditionally underserved populations of entrepreneurs. 100% of the entrepreneurs in Torrey Project’s second incubator cohort (Sept-Oct 2019) were either entrepreneurs of color or female founders. In January, Torrey Project will run two cohorts simultaneously. One will be Torrey Project’s first ever cohort comprised of 100% female founders.

3. Business Roundtable

In August of 2019, the Business Roundtable released a statement on the purpose of a corporation where 181 CEOs of leading US companies pledged to adopt a stakeholder-focused approach to business. This was a major step forward in the cause of better, more conscious and sustanable business. In 2020, Torrey Project hopes to partner with as many Business Roundtable member companies as possible to support them in successfully implementing a strong stakeholder focus in their businesses.

Yumiko's Background

Yumiko grew up in Japan and started her career there as a teacher before moving to the USA to pursue her MBA. From there, her business career took off and Yumiko became a leader in the global semiconductor industry. She developed a particular expertise in “connecting the dots” by managing global partnerships between US and Asia-based firms. At the time of her retirement in June, 2019, Yumiko was serving as Senior Advisor to the CEO of Cabot Microelectronics, where she had also served as VP of Operations and Quality and Vice President of Japan and Asia Operations.

Yumiko at a Global Supplier Day award event. This particular year, a Japanese supplier that she had worked closely with won the best supplier award.

Early Adopter of the Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Business

Throughout her career, Yumiko worked to create corporate social responsibility programs and advocate for a multi-stakeholder approach to business focused on building strong and mutually beneficial partnerships with all stakeholders.

As an early adopter of the stakeholder approach to business, Yumiko sometimes met with opposition. Early in her career, when executives would ask her “What’s in it for us?” or “How does this stakeholder approach help our bottom line?” Yumiko would respond, “If employees can be proud of working for a company that treats its employees right, treats customers and suppliers with respect and serves its communities and underserved members of society with a big heart, that will come back to benefit the company with superior financial returns long term.” Her mantra is now being proven with ample data.

Finish line at the annual Cabot Marathon Relay event in Japan. Yumiko launched this event on the 10th Anniversary of Cabot's Japan operation as a part of their CSR activity. They invited community members, government officials, suppliers, customers, employees, etc. It embodied their multi-stakeholder concept. They collected registration fees from participants and asked for donations from employees, then donated the proceeds to orphanages, schools, and other organizations in the community. This race has been a big hit and had over 350 participants of all ages in 2019.

Proponent of Women’s Leadership

Throughout her career, Yumiko has also been a strong proponent of women’s leadership in business. As I interviewed Yumiko for this piece, she was just stepping out of the TEDWomen conference and she discussed how she had made so many connections with other bold and brilliant female leaders from around the world. She commented, “Women have a better track record of working together and supporting one another. This is one thing we want to dive deeper into at Torrey Project.”

Torrey Project’s CEO, David Ferran commented, "As a woman who managed to break the glass ceiling in both the US and Japan, Yumiko truly understands the challenges faced by women in the world of business. Her perspective and experience will be invaluable in guiding us as Torrey Project continues to expand in the upcoming years.”

Yumiko hosted Ladies Power Lunch (LPL) at Cabot at every major operation (Japan, US, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China) to provide an opportunity to discuss issues surrounding women while networking with others. As she joined forces with other female executives, it became an established event.

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