How can entrepreneurs launch and scale innovative ventures that will create meaningful impact, improving our lives and the world around us? How can startups connect with the talent and financial capital they need to thrive? As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are integrated into the workplace, how can organizations ensure that their employees are not left behind?
Finding answers to these and other crucial questions facing business and society is top of mind for entrepreneur Yoshimi Iyadomi Shinohara, which is why she was drawn to give to multiple initiatives across Harvard—including support for Harvard Business School (HBS) students from Japan; the Digital, Data, and Design Institute at Harvard (D^3, pronounced “D-cubed”); and the Harvard Innovation Labs.
“Thanks to the generosity of Yoshimi Shinohara, initiatives across HBS are well equipped to support and encourage the future discoveries of students and alumni who aim to harness the power of innovation to transform our world,” says Srikant Datar, dean of Harvard Business School and George F. Baker Professor of Business Administration.
“Our collective future depends on the next generation of leaders, dreamers, and entrepreneurs. My goal is to assist them by every means that I possess.”
Shinohara founded the U.S. subsidiary of global staffing firm Persol Holdings, as well as numerous startups focused on talent recruitment, AI, and the future of work. Passionate about fostering creativity in the next generation of business leaders, she feels a particular urgency to expand opportunities for talented students from her home country, Japan, which is experiencing the impacts of a rapidly aging population, declining birth rate, mounting public debt, and natural disasters spurred by climate change. She hopes these scholars will use the tools they learn at the School to spark technological innovations to address Japan’s challenges.
“As someone born and raised in Japan, I am concerned about its future,” says Shinohara, who established a fellowship fund at HBS with her husband, Jed Sherwindt MBA ’90. “Japan’s productivity and population continue to decline, and I believe the answer is technology.”
Shinohara, whose work focuses on using technology to promote innovation and sustainability in the human capital industry, was also inspired to make a gift to help launch the D^3 Institute, supporting its efforts to understand and guide the impact of technological changes on business and society.
Through D^3’s multidisciplinary, lab-based model focused on complex topics—including climate and sustainability, AI equity and ethics, financial technology and digital currencies, and the impact of digitization on the workforce—students, faculty, and researchers from across the University generate new knowledge that informs practical applications focused on the social impacts of business.
“I am convinced that the efforts of the D^3 Institute are likely to provide answers, not just for Japan, but for the entire world,” she says.
In addition, Shinohara and Sherwindt are bolstering fellow entrepreneurs as they start their journeys through a gift to the Harvard Innovation Labs, which have assisted over 4,700 founders from all of Harvard’s Schools to raise capital and create both public and private sector companies with a lasting global impact in fields such as climate change, the life sciences, and AI.
“Our collective future depends on the next generation of leaders, dreamers, and entrepreneurs,” she says. “My goal is to assist them by every means that I possess.”