A graduate of the Shizuoka University, Akiko Kawai joined Yokogawa Hewlett-Packard (now Japan Hewlett-Packard), working first in sales support organization for eight years, followed by 15 years in marketing as a product manager, business planner and localization manager. She moved to the human resources side of the firm in 1996, remaining there for another 15 years until she reached HP's mandatory retirement age in 2011.
As the head of Hewlett-Packard's employee welfare, she reformed the program. In 2004, she was chosen to lead the Diversity and Employee Career, where she boosted diversity and career support as well as the employment of handicapped people through the SEED Center, ISC (International Service Center). She also helped speed up the promotion of female employees, started a networking group for women, and supported the internal talent management program.
One of Ms. Kawai's more recent projects was to launch Women's Summit Tokyo, which developed into a joint operation among multiple companies, and which she now takes part from GEWEL. She is considered one of Japan's pioneers in the promotion of diversity, and frequently presents on the topic.