Dr. Akemi Ooka is currently IBA’s Head of Supply Chain and Sustainability Resources. In this role, she focuses on content, issues, and regulatory activity affecting the supply chain and sustainability in the beauty industry.
Akemi has a B.A. in Chemistry from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from UCLA. She started her career at Clorox, working in product development and innovation, and then switched to product supply to lead Clorox’s chemical procurement team. She enjoyed working at Clorox because it set a good foundation, providing excellent professional development, demonstrating best practices in the industry, and introducing her to outstanding leadership. After Clorox, Akemi worked at method, establishing the procurement function and leading the formulation and fragrance group. She notes that her time at method was a truly unique and enriching experience—being at a fun, growing brand with colleagues who genuinely cared about people and the planet was incredible. They even had corporate values like “Care like a Mother” and “Keep it Weird!” Akemi then moved to J.R. Watkins as VP of Product, where she experienced the fast-paced startup world. Tech transferring over 100 products and launching 45 new SKUs to reinvent the brand was no small feat!
Akemi’s experience in different companies and roles has helped her understand what is critical for a growing organization and how to decipher the “nice to have” vs. “need to have” as a company scales. She also acknowledges how important it is to maintain and value the relationships you build in every role, as they are a key part of your career network.
She also talked about values instilled in her growing up, including always doing your best in all you do. She took this to heart when working on her project — creating a documentary short about her father’s experience in the U.S. internment camps during WWII. Her collaboration with producer and director Preeti Mankar Deb won the short film, Three Boys Manzanar an Emmy in 2022.
Dr. Ooka truly enjoys her work and the ability to meet and engage with people across the industry. If you see her at an event, be sure to say hello!