Hide Subscribe Link

CPaGE International Business Certificate graduate honored in Newsweek Japan

After earning his certificate from the College of Professional & Global Education, entrepreneur Sota Watanabe went on to found two successful tech companies

Sota Watanabe, a former College of Professional & Global Education (CPaGE) International Business student, has been selected one of “100 Japanese people the world respects” by Newsweek Japan for his impressive record as a young entrepreneur. Prior to this, he was selected for the Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list in 2022. 

Watanabe was an Economics major at Keio University in Japan and wanted to expand his global business experience. He applied to the International Business Professions program run by ICC Japan. As part of this program he enrolled in CPaGE’s American Language Institute to improve his English. Following completion of the English for Academic Preparation program, Watanabe earned a certificate in the SF State International Business program. This program helped Watanabe develop the knowledge and skills to become a global leader.

“The groundwork for working globally, including English and business skills, was developed while I was in San Francisco. Without these experiences at SF State, I can’t imagine where I would be today. It was an experience that allowed me to experience and interact with cutting-edge technology and broaden my horizons,” said Watanabe.

During his program, he spent time in the San Francisco Bay Area attending IT, art and language exchange Meetups and visiting technology headquarters in Silicon Valley. Watanabe was able to visit Google, Facebook and Apple. He also completed an internship for Silicon Valley startup Chronicled. When he left SF State, Watanabe returned to Japan and founded Stake Technologies, the first company in Japan to adopt blockchain acceleration sponsored by UC Berkeley. Watanabe received an unprecedented four rounds of funding from Web3 Foundation, which he is using to further innovation at his company. He also founded another tech company, Astar Network. He later participated in the 2021 International Student Journey event hosted by CPaGE’s Center for Global Engagement as an alumni panelist.

International Business Professor and Department Chair Bruce Heiman taught Watanabe in “Research in International Business and the Global Market.” From his interactions with Watanabe in and outside the classroom he shared that he  sees him as an example for past, current and future students. In addition to being a high academic performer while a student at SF State, Watanabe was well respected by his peers and became good friends with many other students as well as professors. The International Business courses he followed while at SF State helped him achieve a solid comfort level working in groups comprised of members from diverse cultures. His outgoing nature and ability to span cultural boundaries has served him well in his career.

“We are proud to have Sota as an example of a graduate of our certificate program,” Heiman said.

“From the first day Sota arrived at SF State, it was clear he was going places,” added CPaGE Assistant Dean Saroj Quinn. “Sota is one of the most inquisitive, passionate and charismatic students I have met. Every time I spoke with Sota during his program, I learned something new about the innovation and entrepreneurship landscape of San Francisco. Sota truly made the city of San Francisco his classroom, using his free time to build a global network.”

Learn more about the College of Professional & Global Education.

The cover of a Japanese-language edition of Newsweek

Speaker Emerita Pelosi addresses SF State community at annual Opening Convocation

Welcome event also features remarks by SF supervisors, President Mahoney, other University leaders  

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi was a surprise guest at San Francisco State University’s Opening Convocation on Aug. 17, taking part in the ceremonial tradition welcoming faculty and staff to a new year on campus. 

Pelosi began her speech in McKenna Theatre by acknowledging the vital roles of University employees. 

“We have to make sure we are paying our workers well as we sing our praises,” Pelosi said in front of an audience of hundreds. “We want to make sure we respect them.”  

She also praised San Francisco State for its dedication to social justice and democracy. 

“Right now, we have to make sure with all of the challenges that are out there to our democracy and democracy worldwide, that we make decisions that our flag is still there, with liberty and justice for all. San Francisco State is about all of that,” Pelosi said. “So I’m proud to bring you greetings from the Congress with respect for you, for the students, for the families, with gratitude to all of you. And just one last thing: Go Gators!” 

Pelosi was not the only elected official in attendance. Two members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Rafael Mandelman and Shamann Walton (MBA, ’10), were also on hand.  

Mandelman said he is optimistic that today’s college students will graduate prepared to face the myriad challenges in society. 

“I, and the city and county of San Francisco, are grateful that you all have chosen to prepare to lead the students here into that non-dystopian future that we all hope remains achievable,” Mandelman said. 

Walton said he is proud to not only have graduated from SF State himself, but also to be the parent of two Gator alumni. He discussed the value of education as “the No. 1 thing that can never be taken away from us.” 

“As Malcolm X said, ‘Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,’” Walton said. “Your work this year and continuing, of course, is preparing the brightest minds for success ... and [to] change the world.” 

In her remarks, SF State President Lynn Mahoney highlighted SF State’s dedication to focusing on students.  

“I am deeply proud of the ways in which San Francisco State serves as a model of excellence in innovation in teaching, academic innovation and research,” Mahoney said. “Strengthening student learning is a priority for all here.” 

Mahoney also noted the University remains committed to eliminating equity and opportunity gaps among underrepresented populations. 

“The greatest demonstration of our commitment to social justice starts here,” she said. “It starts at home by increasing the success of our students, especially our Black, Latinx, low-income and first-generation students.” 

Other speakers included: Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Amy Sueyoshi, Professor of Biology and Academic Senate Chair Michael A. Goldman, Associated Students President Ersa Rao, California Faculty Association SF State Chapter President Brad Erickson, Staff Council Chair Dylan Mooney and CSU Employees Union SF State Chapter President Sandee Noda. The deans of SF State’s academic colleges and the University librarian introduced 34 new tenure-track faculty members. 

Convocation also featured an awards ceremony honoring distinguished faculty and staff, presented by Neda Nobari (B.S., ’84), board chair of the SF State Foundation. This year’s winners:  

  • Excellence in Teaching (Tenured): Paul Beckman, Information Systems 

  • Excellence in Teaching (Lecturer): Mohammad HajiAboli, Engineering 

  • Excellence in Professional Achievement (Tenured): Dianthe “Dee” Spencer, Theatre and Dance 

  • Excellence in Service (Tenured): Nancy Gerber, Chemistry and Biochemistry 

  • Excellence in Service (Staff): Phonita Yuen, Metro College Success Program 

Learn more about the Opening Convocation on the Academic Senate website.