Joanne joined SoftBank after serving as a managing director for Goldman Sachs. She began her career as a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton. Joanne earned a bachelor of arts degree in Japanese language and literature and a master’s degree in commerce from Waseda University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
- Alibaba Local Services
- JD Logistics
How did your background lead you to your SoftBank role?
Early in my career, I became interested in the culture clash between Japanese and Chinese management styles. That led me to pursue a master’s degree in international business at Waseda University, followed by a consulting role in Booz Allen’s Tokyo office. Next, I earned my MBA from Harvard, and then joined Goldman Sachs. The majority of my work experience prior to this role was in growth equity investment. I decided to join SBIA because I wanted to work for an organization that is more nimble, more efficient in decision-making, and doing more impactful investing.
What is your sector focus?
I lead our health care investment here in China. I also look at investment opportunities in other sectors, but I spend the majority of my time on health tech investing. I love how technology can change people's lives, especially in this industry. China has a large and rapidly aging population, with close to 20 percent of the population over 60 years old. Many people in lower tier cities don't have access to quality health care. Technology advances like telemedicine and AI have brought dramatic change to health care, for both doctors and patients.
What impact does technology investing have in the health care sector?
Instead of traveling to major cities and waiting in lines, patients can access the best doctors through online consultations. Doctors then refer patients to local centers for examinations or tests. Electronic medical records are developed and shared among hospitals, and doctors can even use robots to guide surgeries remotely. We’ve also seen the dramatic change AI can bring in drug research and discovery by improving efficiency and accuracy. For example, we invested in a biotech company that helped bring a new drug to market over a year sooner than normal. That saves billions of dollars and delivers a tremendous benefit to patients.
What can founders expect when working with you?
They can always expect my energy and compassion. I bring an understanding of what entrepreneurs are going through when building their businesses, along with a capacity to absorb and understand the complex technical issues they're facing. We invest a large amount of capital, but we always respect how our portfolio companies are approaching management. We don't try to take control or dictate how they run their companies. We're there to help, not to intrude. I want founders to see our team as partners who add additional value and support, but in a nonintrusive way.
What do you hope to achieve through the SoftBank Vision Fund?
I want to help broaden and strengthen our franchise here and find more good investments in the health care sector. As one of just a few female partners, I definitely want to help recruit more women to the organization. And for women who are already working here, I would like to be more actively involved in coaching and mentoring them. It’s a challenging job for anyone, but for women with families and young kids, it’s even more challenging. I’d like to share my experience and the lessons I’ve learned to help them advance in their careers.