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Sumiko Kanazawa 1999

Career in Business and Law Is a Dream Come True

Growing up in Tokyo, Sumiko Kanazawa noticed that few women had professional careers. It was her dream to become a lawyer in a foreign land, and it was her own mother, a single, working parent, who inspired her to do it.

While a teenager, Kanazawa traveled to Maine as a high school exchange student.  “I wanted to go to college in the U.S. and it was a test to see if I could make it.” Ultimately she did make it; Kanazawa received a BS in Business Administration and an MA in International Relationswith distinctionfrom Boston University.

Her career began in finance at the U.S. headquarters of The Yasuda Trust & Banking Co., Ltd.  While still working full time, she enrolled in Pace Law School.“The study of law is very different,” she said. “I was used to reading business cases, but law is a different language and English was not my first language.”Still, she was a Ranking Scholar, student mentor, and graduated cum laude.  “I am grateful that Pace Law gave me an opportunity to study there. I couldn’t have done it without the enthusiastic professors and fellow students who became my lifelong friends.”       

Today,Kanazawa is Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Acting Compliance Officer of Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. (USA), a New York subsidiary of Japanese-based Mizuho Financial Group Inc.  She is responsible for the legal and compliance functions of the subsidiary, which has more than $150 billion in assets under custody and provides custody, securities lending, and fund administration services to institutional investors.    

“My job is never boring,” she said. “There are always legal developments taking placein the United States, and I have an opportunity on a daily basis to work with seasoned business and legal professionals, to analyze the law’s impact on our bank’s business and operations, and to help implementactionplans.”

She would like more time with her nine-year-old daughter, Mika, but Kanazawa hopes that she and her husband, Larry, are giving their daughter a real life example that gender shouldn’t matter in the role each parent has at home or at work. “Larry has a more flexible working schedule. Mika used to wonder why her dad, not her mom, gets her ready in the morning and comes to pick her up after school,” Kanazawa says. “She doesn’t ask that question anymore. For her, it’s no longer that different or unusual to see mothers working and fathers at pick-up, so I think this is good for her, too.”