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Kumiko Jacobs

Kumiko Jacobs

Faculty Affairs and Staff Administrator
Chemical Engineering
Story originally published on May 2021
I moved to the U.S. in 2014 from Tokyo, Japan, where I was a personal executive assistant to a CEO in the financial industry. It was a very different world from where I am now.

In finance, the focus is to create outcomes that further the client’s monetary interests. As a nonprofit in the higher ed space, Stanford’s focus is on creating the best educational and research outcomes for students, faculty, staff and – really – the world.

I’ve been at Stanford since June of 2016. In the beginning, since my position was a newly created role in the department, it was challenging to understand the bigger picture and what success in this new role would look like. I asked myself, “What were the circumstances and requirements that led to the creation of this role? What skills, background and other characteristics led to me being chosen?”

I spent a lot of time early on learning about my colleagues’ work (which I still do today). I reached out to many of my counterparts in different SoE departments. Sometimes I’d drop by without an appointment to ask, “Will you please explain what you do?” People here are very open and extremely cooperative – that’s a big difference from my experience in the financial industry, where people were more protective of their knowledge and sometimes a bit too competitive.

Now that I have more experience at Stanford, it’s been my pleasure to share my knowledge and experience just like people helped me when I started working here. I created a faculty and a staff onboarding package for my department, which had never been created before. I wanted to make it easy for new faculty and staff members to understand the department, its culture and its procedures. I shared it with other departments and the Dean’s Office, as I’m open about what I do. It’s my honor to share this because I learned so much about the importance of being collaborative.

I recently had a chance to share my knowledge with a different department when one of my counterparts took a new job within Stanford. Our colleagues in Bioengineering were in the process of a faculty search, and they needed some excellent candidates. I’ve helped facilitate faculty searches for my department many times – so I drew on and shared my experience to help them. I was fortunate to help, and the outcome was great: BioE’s new faculty member starts this summer!

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