• Administration

Ken Watari

Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Education has always been at the heart of Ken’s work. From an education think tank in Bhutan, to Teach For Japan, to the Boston Consulting Group’s Education practice the US, and now here with Fulbright in Vietnam.

Growing up, Ken was fortunate to receive a US-inspired education, a decision made by his Japanese father, who had an incredibly transformative experience as a graduate student in the US. However, this experience came with a sacrifice — Ken had to leave his home in Japan in order to receive such an education. This in turn changed his life trajectory to a life lived abroad.

When Ken first learned of Fulbright’s mission to bring US liberal arts education to Vietnam in 2017, it resonated strongly with him. For Ken, establishing Fulbright University Vietnam meant allowing thousands of Vietnamese youth – regardless of their ability to pay or where in Vietnam they are from – to gain a world-class education right here in their home country.

He packed up his bags in San Francisco and came to Fulbright as a volunteer. He served as Fulbright’s first Director of Strategy and led the recruitment, admissions, and financial aid provision for the Co-Design Year class. Two years later, Ken continues to deliver Fulbright’s mission, this time through establishing the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI).

Ken’s approach to leading CEI is informed by his own experience as an undergraduate student at Stanford. Through being exposed to social entrepreneurship and co-founding a social entrepreneurship project focused on enabling migrant workers to more securely send remittances, Ken developed a firm belief that he could design a career oriented toward tackling society’s challenges, instead of prioritizing climbing the career ladder.

When Ken is not discussing Fulbright or entrepreneurship, he can be found kickboxing (in a poor imitation of Rocky Balboa) and FaceTiming his family’s dog.