As president and CEO of the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship (ACE), Carnegie Mellon University alumna Sach Takayasu played an instrumental role in what she describes as “giving a voice to the business interests of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).”

She helped initiate visibility leading to increased access to capital for AAPI business owners, key partnerships with global corporations such as Toyota and Google, and an overall presence on the world stage for AAPI organizations.

Recognizing her leadership, President Barack Obama chose Takayasu as one of 19 business leaders to be briefed on the 2016 Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In 2012, just prior to heading ACE, Takayasu, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the Dietrich College Student-Defined Major Program, noted an alarming omission between business policy and who led those conversations.

“As the U.S. formulated its policy around business and trade, there was a gap,” she recalled. “Asian-Americans were not invited to the conversations. We organized and created a chamber of commerce so somebody could be at the table. The Asian American and Pacific Islander business community contributes over $500 billion into the economy annually. That is significant. Such economic output equates to the 18th highest GDP in the world.”

It is her thoughts and commentary on policy and business initiatives that moved the needle on the federal agenda. Takayasu was able to forge partnerships on both sides of the aisle and meet with international leaders, such as Japanese Prime Minister Abe.

As for the U.S. dropping out of the TPP, Takayasu has an interesting perspective: “The United States has a unique advantage of having diverse citizens which include Asian Americans, who provide deep cultural understanding, linguistic capabilities and business ties with each of the other 11 member nations. That enables American businesses to quickly seize the market opportunity that TPP would have created, significantly strengthening American economy and establish the United States as the standard bearer and leader of global economy,” she said.

Her impact on a global stage is why Carnegie Mellon University’s Alumni Association selected Takayasu to receive a 2017 Alumni Achievement Award.

“As a student, Sachiko was impressive and committed to carving her own path for success. She has continued that, navigating a career in international relations and leading an organization that gives Asian-Americans and their business interests a voice in the U.S. Capitol. I am delighted that CMU is honoring her,” said CMU’s Joseph Devine, Dietrich College’s associate dean for undergraduate studies, who advised Takayasu.

Takayasu attributes much of her ability to tackle new challenges and move between the tech world and the White House to what she learned in the classroom.

“CMU really teaches the discipline of breaking down complex subject matters and make it into focal units. Especially for a CEO, it was so important,” Takayasu said. “Overall, my time at Carnegie Mellon really cultivated new dimensions of learning for me. I cultivated a love for the arts, technology and the humanities.”

Having recently stepped down as CEO of the chamber, Takayasu has taken a sabbatical to attend to family matters, but she remains passionate about AAPI. “It’s important for our country to include the voice of the AAPI business community,” she said, “By doing so, everyone wins.”

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Photo caption: Takayasu addresses the audience at the American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship National Conference.