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Jan 18. 2024


Our exceptional team is at the heart of what sets Trailstone apart as a workplace. We invite you to meet the dedicated individuals who are helping to shape the future of our business. Through our Employee Spotlight series, we are showcasing a range of team members from across the organization, offering a look into their current roles, personal passions, and the paths that have brought them to their present positions.

For our third installment in this series, we’re highlighting Trailstone’s General Manager, Japan, Ichiro “Nick” Nakayama, who is a key figure in establishing Trailstone’s presence in Japan. Read on to learn more about Ichiro’s journey!

Q: What do you do at Trailstone?

A: Trailstone entered the Japan power market in late 2022. My main priority has been setting up our infrastructure in the country to get our business up and running to ensure a smooth experience for our customers.

Q: Which office do you work out of and what do you enjoy about that location?

A: I am based out of our Tokyo, Japan office. I was born and raised in Tokyo, so it is my hometown.

Q: Tell us a bit about your professional journey. How did you get to where you are now?

A: I began my career in the capital markets field at financial institutions in Japan, the US and the UK, trading primarily JPY sovereign bonds and interest rate derivatives (swaps and options) focused on absolute return trading.

I later became a macro strategy hedge fund manager trading global products out of Tokyo, Singapore and Dubai.

In the early 2000s, Japan began deregulating its power market and created the JEPX (Japan Electric Power Exchange) as a central market for power producers and retailers. Using my market knowledge from the capital markets field, I helped design a power exchange for the Japan electricity system – that is how I initially got involved in the Japanese power market.

However, it wasn’t until 2017, following full deregulation of the power market in 2016, that I really got involved in the Japanese power market. This time it was as the head of supply/portfolio management for a US power retailer that was establishing a business in Japan.

Q: What happened after that? How did you get from there to Trailstone?

A: The US power retailer kept the Japan business for three years and it was ultimately sold to a Japanese company who already had been engaged in the wholesale sector and decided to get involved in retail. As they were completely new to the retail power market, I consequently acted as a COO function to manage all the company’s business operations including sales, digital sales, supply desk, back office, middle office, IT development (primarily CIS) and all other corporate functions. After two and a half years the business became profitable and that was when I decided to look for a new journey and joined Trailstone.

Q: What about Trailstone's work is important or meaningful to you?

A: I appreciate the opportunities and challenges that come along with entering a new market. It is fulfilling to be able to use the experience and knowledge that I have gained throughout my career to help establish Trailstone’s presence and increase its business potential in Japan. This is a key time for renewable energy-related businesses and an exciting opportunity to work for a company as it expands globally.

Q: What motivates you about your role?

A: As Trailstone continues to expand and aims for further growth by developing new markets and building new business pillars, I am motivated by the fact that these markets are in countries that I know well. Whenever you do something new, challenges, both big and small, emerge. I think it is necessary to tackle each challenge carefully, one at a time, and move forward step by step. My experience in these new markets allows me to make the most of each step forward.

Q: What are you looking forward to in your role over the next year?

A: In the coming year, I hope to further grow our customer base and increase our presence in the Japanese market. I also hope to cultivate a positive work environment for the new team members in our Tokyo office!

Q: Are there any challenges in your role that you're working through?

A: Many people feel that the immediate hurdle of doing business in Japan is the language, but while language problems can be solved with a translator, relationships are better established in person. Along with building a business foundation, I consider this to be the biggest challenge.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I really try not to picture myself too far ahead in the future because I know it is out of my control.