I would be remiss if I wrote my next blog post without reflecting on a recent amazing and profound experience I had in Tokyo, as part of Autodesk’s COO Leadership Development Program.

While wandering around the neon lights of Kabukichō one evening (in the pouring rain mind you, making it feel like a scene out of Blade Runner), I stumbled upon a small establishment in the Golden Gai area named BAR COO, and seeing as how it shared the name of my parent division, I found it prudent of me to at least check it out.


I walked in to a scene of a small bar with five seats in it and one bartender, a kind middle-aged Japanese woman, and three other patrons, one of them local and the others a couple visiting from India.

What was interesting about this place is due to its small, intimate setting, it was very conducive to conversation – the woman tending bar was very interested in hearing everyone’s stories about where they were from and their reasons for visiting Japan, and you could tell this was one of the main reasons she does what she does, as the stories from visitors is what she thoroughly enjoyed.

That experience at BAR COO primed me for another set of intimate conversations I was going to have over the following three days, as part of the COO Leadership Development Program.

For three days, we didn’t talk about technology.

For three days, we didn’t talk about business. (Well, maybe a little.)

For three days, we talked about leadership.

I know some hardened technologists at this point likely instinctively reflexed at that last sentence, instantly putting up mental guardrails around the type of value they would derive from such an experience. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my own doubts, and while I was open to this experience, I also had no idea what to expect going into it.

And that is why I was all the more delighted with unique opportunity of learning and growth that was to follow.

During the program we learned about what it means to be a leader in the year 2024. Organizations and the people that work for them are yearning for a new type of leadership, for leaders that are high on the emotional intelligence scale, who are curious, courageous, have conviction, and can connect with people, amongst many other aspects. We had opportunities throughout those three days to self-reflect and see what areas we have for our own personal growth and learning – and grow and learn we did.

On top of this, I was introduced to my wonderful LDP team, whom I’m going to be working alongside on a business case study challenge over the next few months, and with whom I’ll be able to share and enjoy a journey of learning and growth together.

Being a leader is not that much unlike being a bartender at BAR COO – as a leader, you need to understand where people have come from, and actively listen to them, in order to help them figure out where the want to go on their own journeys. To that end, you also need to understand yourself and where you have come from, in order to know where you are going, and what type of journey you want to have in your career, and in life.