A Day in the Life of Diana


Diana joined Avascent in 2018, where she focuses on using her policy background to help clients strategize for a rapidly changing global space market. Before joining Avascent, Diana’s career focused on international organizations and policymaking, particularly during and after her master’s at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva where she worked at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Centre for International Environmental Studies.

8:00 AM

Wake up at a regular time, having officially shaken the last of the jetlag after three days on the ground in Japan.

8:20 AM

Grab my computer and head upstairs to the executive lounge to meet the team for breakfast and make sure everything is set for the day. Discuss the various meetings the others have planned around town, thanks to Toshi, our Japanese office lead, and work out when I’ll join them later in the day.

9:00 AM

The team heads off to meetings, but I stay put in the executive lounge, availing myself of the free coffee, breakfast and wifi. I run through my emails, most of which are from members of the Japanese Ministry of Defense and space agency, JAXA, confirming their attendance 24 hours before our symposium Tuesday.

We’re doing our fifth symposium with Japanese government officials, bringing US experts to speak to them about doctrine, technological changes, and cooperation with the US. This time, the discussions will be about how Japan should think about the future of its space architecture. I update our attendance lists and double-check that the team is aware of the new participants.

11:30 AM

I get an email from one of our US speakers, who has just landed and has a couple of questions about the presentation I’ve made for him, and a couple of updates.

1:30 PM

I head back downstairs to get ready to meet the team at a client’s office. I make sure to pack the materials we’ll need for the symposium, as we’ll go to the venue to set up afterwards.

2:00 PM

I meet my manager downstairs in the lobby, and we take a cab over. He has a BD meeting to attend before we get a tour of the client’s showroom of their most cutting-edge technology.

3:00 PM

We take this highly-choreographed tour through the showroom, actively participating in scenarios and testing out technologies supporting things like facial recognition and warehouse streamlining. We ask too many questions and scoot out to our next meeting.

4:00 PM

We’re on the top floor of the client’s building, overlooking Tokyo’s port. We’re meeting an executive to discuss potential projects on the technologies we’ve just seen, plus some others. The meeting goes well, with everyone chiming in with their expertise.

4:30 PM

Me, Toshi, and the rest of the team take off from the client’s on the Tokyo Metro during rush hour to go to the symposium venue. Not as crowded as expected!

6:00 PM

Having successfully figured out projectors, microphones, the difference between VGA and HDMI cables, laid out tent cards, and deposited the white papers we wrote to accompany the discussions, the team goes back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner.

8:00 PM

After changing and a quick check-in with our speakers who have arrived to make sure everyone is ready for tomorrow, the team decides on the hotel’s sushi bar for dinner. Over a couple of beers and sushi made in front of us, we chat about previous trips to Japan and things I should definitely see before leaving.

11:00 PM

After a quick call home, since it’s now a reasonable hour in the US, I head to bed earlier than usual to get ready for tomorrow

6:45 AM (Tokyo time, Day 2)

I pop out of bed as I always do when I’m stressed about waking up on time. Get ready and meet everyone in the lounge again.

7:30 AM

Cab over to the venue and continue setting up the room. Lay out white papers at each place, set up all the PowerPoints, work with the translators to find a suitable Japanese translation for the terms “proliferation” and “electromagnetic warfare,” and largely fail. The participants begin arriving, and we greet them and the team catches up with officials that they’ve hosted before.

8:00 AM

The symposium begins, with me and my manager taking notes to capture the discussions, and our director moderating the panels, whose topics range from the threat in space to potential areas for collaboration with the US in space, to technological and political changes affecting how the US and Japan manage space assets.

2:00 PM

With the symposium over, the team and our speakers pile in cabs to the Ministry of Defense, to meet with one of the leaders of Japan’s space policy organizations. We debrief him on the outcomes of the symposium, which he was unable to attend, and our speakers impart their insights and recommendations on where Japan should focus its investments and planning.

4:00 PM

We all go back to the hotel and nap, and some (not me) work out.

6:30 PM

More cabs, this time to dinner at Akira Kurosawa’s son’s shabu shabu restaurant a few blocks away. The team and our speakers indulge in some beer, sake, and hot-oil-cooked fatty pork to celebrate an event well-organized and well-delivered.

10:00 PM

Early bed again, this time because I am exhausted. Tomorrow there are some more meetings with the Ministry of Defense and some potential clients, as well as ramen to be eaten and a friend from grad school to catch up with in my free time!

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