Behind the Fusion Scene: Yukiko Fukawa

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In a nutshell:
At Kyoto Fusioneering (KF), Ms. Fukawa is thriving in the role of accounting and finance. Her initial inspiration for pursuing accounting traces back to her close friends. Following her certification as a public accountant, driven by the burning desire for new challenges, she took off for overseas. Beyond managing finances across KF’s multinational locations, she plays a vital role in shaping the company’s structure, driven by her innate spirit of embracing challenges.

What are your responsibilities at Kyoto Fusioneering (KF)?
As the accounting and finance lead in the Governance & Accounting Division, I oversee the company’s financial transactions, such as processing invoices and expense settlements related to payments and revenue. To ensure accuracy, I meticulously verify amounts, look into details of business partners and ensure timely settlement of invoices. Given KF’s global presence with offices in the UK and the US, the accounting team, including members from the UK, diligently works daily to adhere to local accounting standards, continually learning the differences in standards and laws. Regarding corporate governance, I thoroughly review the purpose of expenses and ensure proper receipt attachments.

Also, I am involved in streamlining KF’s accounting processes. When I initially joined, there was no dedicated accounting team as a startup, and we had to manage various tasks as they arose. So, I started by understanding the existing situation, identifying needs and challenges, and then started by streamlining the payment methods.

Since I joined, we have standardized invoice payments and issued corporate cards to all employees. Previously, the company relied on their credit cards for expenses, sometimes reaching their limits. To alleviate this situation, we decided to introduce a travel agency to pay airfare by invoice and issue credit cards to all employees.

Additionally, as we face the need to efficiently manage internal information as we grow rapidly, we are introducing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Adapting systems to match the pace of the expansion is a challenge, but I’m committed to making the transition smoother for everyone to ensure increased efficiency in our work process.

What motivated you to pursue a career in accounting?
It’s thanks to my peers during my student years, during the challenging period known as the “employment ice age.” While most of my friends struggled to hunt jobs during that time, my friend was committed to obtaining qualifications. Influenced by her, I pondered, “What if I pursued a certification like hers?” Then, I set my sights on becoming a certified public accountant, drawn more toward numerical calculations than reading.

Despite facing initial failure in the first exam during my senior year, I quickly adjusted my mindset, acknowledging the difficulty and resolving to persevere. The following year, after passing on my second attempt, a wave of relief and joy washed over me. Despite the competitive job market, the demand for accountants in Japan was high leading me to join a well-known auditing firm, where I gained valuable practical experience on my journey to becoming a certified public accountant.

While my professional journey was thriving, a desire to broaden my horizons led me to contemplate studying abroad. Throughout my academic years, I found meeting new people fascinating and often wondered about the people I could meet in a culturally different setting. In addition to that, I was curious to try something new, so I decided to set a condition for myself that I would work hard to realize my study abroad program “once I officially become a CPA”. After that, I became a certified public accountant and studied in Canada for one year.

How was life in Canada after returning to Japan?
In hindsight, there were many challenges. Particularly, communication posed a significant hurdle. But, during my stay in a shared house with two Canadian roommates, while it remained a challenge, they communicated with me patiently which enabled me to convey my thoughts, even if my grammar and vocabulary were not perfect. It was during this period that I realized the essence of “feelings” in English communication. I learned that conveying messages effectively involves expressing oneself through words and gestures. This realization eradicated my hesitation in speaking English.

Afterward, wanting to explore life in another country, I spent about five months in Germany before returning to Japan.

What led you to join KF after returning to Japan?
Initially, I worked in the accounting department of a pharmaceutical company in Osaka near my hometown. However, due to marriage, I relocated to Tokyo and needed to transition to a different company.

Later, I started working in a company in Tokyo, then I became pregnant. While working in Tokyo and navigating the challenges of pregnancy, I contemplated the balance between childcare and career. Despite considering leaving work, I decided to juggle both. This led to another job change after my child turned one. Although I opted for a position with no overtime, balancing work, housework, and childcare left me with minimal free time. But as I reflect on those days, I was able to do my best in juggling because of my kids.

Until joining KF, my job choices prioritized childcare. As my children grew,  affording me more time, I began contemplating a career in a field that genuinely interested me. This led me to a job search, which ultimately led to the discovery of KF.

While searching for openings, the phrase “Kyoto University startup” caught my attention. Intrigued by the concept of a venture company originating from Kyoto University, I delved deeper into KF’s mission to achieve “fusion energy,” also recognized as “the ultimate energy solution.” I further researched and learned its potential to dramatically change the world. Despite a slight anxiety about entering this industry, my expertise in accounting has successfully led me to join KF.

On a personal note, during the interview process, I encountered a former colleague whom I hadn’t seen in a decade. Spotting him on the webpage, I initially thought he was familiar, and upon meeting him at the interview, I was pleasantly surprised. The reunion felt somewhat miraculous, adding an unexpected twist to my journey.

What are your impressions of working at KF?
KF is genuinely an exciting company. One reason is the opportunity to work in the field of fusion energy, a sector that holds the potential to dramatically change the world. I take great pride in being part of a team that is making strides in such a groundbreaking area.

Equally noteworthy are the fascinating colleagues at KF. Beyond their unique expertise, the team members boast diverse backgrounds, providing me with a wealth of perspectives that constantly stimulate my thinking. The inclusive and open-minded nature of my colleagues fosters great communication, creating an environment where collective challenges are embraced, it is truly a rewarding experience.

Furthermore, the rapid growth characteristics of a startup add another layer of excitement to my journey here. Every day passes with surprising speed, and as the organization expands, I find myself with tasks that stretch beyond accounting. This dynamic environment not only broadens my skill set but also presents occasional challenges. While setbacks can be frustrating, they contribute to a sense of accomplishment when overcome.

Looking ahead, my wish is to continue embracing diverse challenges at KF. Specifically, I am interested in delving into management accounting and pursuing an IPO (initial public offering).

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