Utako Tanigawa, born in Osaka, Japan, started her career at fifteen years old as a tutor for several middle school students. Later, she owned a private school for high school and junior college students and a restaurant for ten years before coming to the U.S.
When she was 32 years old, she decided to have a year break from work to travel to the U.S. to study mathematics and explore new possibilities in her life. She received multiple scholarships and enjoyed being in America where she earned additional several more degrees in Mathematics, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems, and post doctorate study in Management Science and Engineering
Although she had no experience in computer fields before coming to the U.S., she received numerous opportunities to work in Information Technology areas. Dr. Tanigawa has been in executive positions in global corporations for more than three decades. At American Express, she traveled more than twenty times a year to seven countries where her teams were working for global architecture projects. In WalMart, she, as Chief Information Officer in Asia Pacific Division, managed technology departments in Japan, China, and Korea. Her responsibilities extended to Security Shared Services, and Portfolio management in later years at WalMart. She loved managing global projects and working with the teams from multiple countries.
She also had served as an academic lecturer and researcher to advance her studies at several universities such as Stanford, Boston, Chicago, and Colorado University. Today, she still keeps her advisory work with the executives in global corporations to assist their strategic plans.
For the last two decades, she has been a mentor and an advisor to assist the next generation leaders to advance their leadership skills. This is one of her lifetimes works to help people, especially minority women, to progress their career and social status. She strongly believes that women’s power is the key to improve our society in all the countries.
About ten years ago, her life had a dramatic turn due to a life-threatening illness. Although it severely damaged her body, her love of music returned and provided a tangible lifeline. Today music continues to play a key soothing and healing role. In the recovery process, she decided to challenge herself. Then she was selected to be a contestant at Van Cliburn Outstanding Amateur, Chopin Competition for Amateur Pianists in Warsaw, Poland, Washington DC International Piano Artist Competition, Dulwich Piano Festival in London, Piano Bridges in St. Petersburg, Russia and Seattle International Piano Competition. She was honored to be selected as a finalist and awarded best performer awards at several competitions.
After moving to Georgia, Dr. Tanigawa created a non-profit organization, Georgia Musicale Group (GMG) in 2016 to share the joy of classical music with others. The members are from a wide variety of backgrounds such as scientists, medical doctors, teachers, and retired music lovers. She was surprised to know that many of them have had a desire to play for years, but they didn’t have chances, or they were too nervous to play in front of people. Members are vocalists, and any instrument players including ensembles. GMG is very active with twice a month practice session and more than a dozen of concerts a year in addition to master classes and guest artist concerts. Unfortunately, the Carnegie concert was cancelled this year but hopefully it will happen next year. She is grateful for GMG’s rapid growth and recognitions for the last couple of years.
While she loves her professional work and music, she and her husband, Steven Bennett, are strong believers of a self-contained life. He grows vegetables and fruits in nine-acre fields and brews beer, while she prepares all the food from scratch including baking bread, canning, making preserves, and so on.