Asako Iwanaga

Managing Director, Deloitte Japan

Asako has over 30 years of experience working in IT. She advises clients in the automotive, pharmaceutical, retail, beverage, food and distribution sectors on business systems, applications and infrastructure. She also advises on the systematization of security requirements. With experience in organizational management, she created role profiles and promoted reforming the personnel evaluation system to help team members improve their skills for career growth.

In 2022, she joined Deloitte in Japan and now leads the expansion of new asset development and business and promotes female participation in cyber.
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What does a typical day of work look like for you?

I am leading the expansion of our new Implement and Operate business. As part of this expansion, our team uses technology to innovate and develop tools that can be used practically. To make the most of our team members’ experience and skills, we attend internal and external meetings and advanced technology study sessions. Together with our members, we are building a valuable organization.

What aspects of your career journey have taken you by surprise?

We have been expanding our existing business areas, but this is the first time we are starting a new business area from scratch. For the company, recruiting members and taking concrete steps to bring the organization’s mission to life has been challenging but exciting.

Tell us about your first job (can be anything!) and one lesson you might have learned from it.

My first job was helping clients to design products in 3D modeling and analysis. When the products I was involved in, such as cars and bullet trains, were sold in the market and used by many people, I learned the importance of quality assurance and felt the joy of contributing to society.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self about getting started in cyber?

Working in cybersecurity requires development skills and a wide range of liberal arts, social sciences and humanities skills and experiences, including auditing and governance. So a wide range of professionals play a role in cybersecurity.

Tell us about the cyber project you're most proud of working on in your career.

When a client was attacked by ransomware, I supported them by investigating the intrusion route, recovering data and operations and reducing the impact on their business with an interim response. This work resulted in building a strong relationship with the client, and we are now supporting them regularly for the long term.

How has public perception of cybersecurity changed over the course of your career, and how do you predict in the future?

Business and sales growth used to come first. Clients believed cybersecurity measures should only be taken when more time and money were available. Now, cybersecurity is perceived as necessary to run a business. Going forward, cybersecurity will be essential to protect people’s safety and security, and everything should be secured.

Tell us about a role model or mentor who has helped shape your career.

The messages and actions of various people, including clients, managers and colleagues, influenced me and helped me advance in my career.

A meeting gets canceled and you have a surprise 30 minute window of free time — how do you spend it?

I take time to communicate with my team members and see if they have any questions about their work. I also check new technical information on cybersecurity.

What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?

I do what I am passionate about, such as cooking and sports. Immersing myself in something else other than work helps me see myself objectively.

When you think about your personal legacy as a leader, what do you hope people will remember?

I would like to be someone who doesn’t run away from the problems and challenges I face. I try to be a person who can think about the best solution for my clients, has a good attitude and listens to diverse opinions.