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  -  Business   -  North Asia Business   -  Post-COVID webinar: Women and the pandemic
An image of a women working from home

21 July 2021

The North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence launched the speaker series ‘North Asia Post-COVID’ in the midst of last year’s lockdown to provide businesspeople and decisionmakers with up-to-date knowledge and analysis of the region’s pandemic responses and commercial adaptation.

Please join us for our next event ‘Women and the pandemic’ on Wednesday 21 July, to be held online. We will also host a live viewing of the webinar in Wellington, at the Wellington Club, with support from the Japan New Zealand Business Council.

In North Asia and likely around the world, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women professionally and personally. Our speakers will explore the factors behind these impacts and their implications, with a focus on Japan and New Zealand.

Our speakers are: Catherine O’Connell, Principal of Catherine O’Connell Law and Vice Chair of the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan; Misa Kitaoka, Education NZ’s Director of Education for Japan; and Jennifer Curtin, Professor of Politics and Director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland. Catherine and Misa will be zooming in to us from Tokyo.

21 July 2021
4:30pm - 5:30pm (NZDT)
Zoom link will be provided when register
An image of Catherine O'Connell
Catherine O’Connell

Catherine O’Connell is Principal & Founder of Catherine O’Connell Law, a boutique commercial law firm in Tokyo. A “Lawpreneur” and host of the Lawyer on Air podcast, Catherine is the first foreign female (and first Kiwi) to establish a law firm in Japan. Catherine has been in Japan 18+ years working primarily in In House roles at Panasonic, Olympus and Mitsubishi Motors as well as a Senior Associate at Hogan Lovells Law Firm in the Tokyo and London offices, and 10+ years in New Zealand in private practice with Anderson Lloyd. She is bilingual.

Catherine is passionate about giving back to the community and serves as the Vice-Chair of the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of Japan focusing on bringing NZ and Japanese businesses together. She is also Chair of the Legal Services & IP Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and President of Women in Law Japan. She was the winner of the British Chamber British Business Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year category in 2020. Catherine mentors law students and lawyers, and speaks on panels and to students embarking on law careers. She believes healthy lawyers make happy lawyers and is focused on lawyer wellness and flexible working.

Catherine has a double degree in Japanese and Law and is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand (1995) and England & Wales (2009). She is a Foreign Registered Lawyer in Japan with the Tokyo Dai-Ichi Bar Association. More about Catherine at:

An image of Misa Kitaoka
Misa Kitaoka

Misa Kitaoka is Director of Education for Japan at Education New Zealand (ENZ). With her market expertise and network, Misa is committed to growing the Japanese education market and enjoys the opportunity and challenge in utilising her multi-cultural background and language skills to strengthen education and cultural ties between Japan and New Zealand.

Prior to ENZ, Misa has worked in a wide range of finance roles in the United States. Her most recent role was at the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan where she was Executive Director, responsible for the promotion and advocacy of Australian and New Zealand corporations in Japan.

Misa graduated with a BA in economics from Stanford University and a Masters in liberal studies at Columbia University. Misa sits on the board of directors of the Stanford Japan Alumni Association and is also an active member of the Stanford alumni group in New Zealand.

An image of Jennifer Curtin
Professor Jennifer Curtin

Professor Jennifer Curtin is the Director of the Public Policy Institute (PPI) and the Coordinator of the University of Auckland’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) programme.

Her research focuses on trans-Tasman policy innovations, sport and politics, and gender analysis in policy making. She has undertaken collaborative research projects with women’s policy agencies in Australia and women’s organisations in New Zealand, and has published widely on topics related to this theme.

She was an NZ-Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in 2012 and regularly speaks about issues connected with her research at national and international conferences and in the media.