Katherine Melchior Ray

“I am happy to answer your question. I am currently Chief Marketing Officer for Shiseido, Japan’s premier cosmetics company having come to Japan last year to go in-house for my client.

As you can see from my profile, I have worked in multiple industries around the world while keeping my PDX base for 25 years. My unusual multi category, multi-country career may be important for you to understand the context of my answers below.

The two steps I’ve done that have helped me achieve the leadership positions I have are following my interests and taking risks. Sometimes those two go together.

I studied Japanese culture and language in college on a whim. I had other professional interests, studying history and leading a monthly magazines on issues. I thought I would go to journalism school. I followed my unusual interest in Japan to study there after college and found an opportunity to work in a Japanese media company, where I stayed for 7 years, in Tokyo and then NY. I have leveraged that early experience working with Japan across a career in fashion, cosmetics and hospitality, working in the US, Europe and Japan three times.

Not many women take the risk to uproot their whole family, ask their spouse to put a career on hold and pull their kids out of after school activities to move not just once but twice to foreign countries. I have jumped across industries, adapting my previous experiences and knowledge to bring fresh ideas and innovation to new fields.

I worked with Jen on a client project in Paris a couple years ago with French lingerie designers and their Japanese industrialist owners. Jen mentioned how complicated my work is, trying to help multinationals bridge cultural norms to collaborate and align brand and design vision. Changing organizations and behavior is really hard and full of risk. I may be less aware of that since so much of my career has been risk-taking. Some opportunities worked out extremely well and some didn’t. And that’s where it helps to do things you love because that passion helps overcome many – but not all – of these complex challenges.”

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