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Conversation Central Podcast

Leadership and Survival: A Story from the 2011 Japan Earthquake

Posted by Hannah Conrad on July 21st, 2011

Guest: Carol Hallett, Vice President Worldwide Sales, Real Intent

Hosts: Karen Bartleson, Sr. Director, Community Marketing, Synopsys Inc., Yvette Huygen, Director, Worldwide Public Relations and Corporate Communications, Synopsys Inc.

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The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan were devastating. Carol Hallett was in Tokyo’s Narita airport when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake (and subsequent 8.8 aftershock) struck. Hear her tell the incredible story of how she was determined to survive, led a group to join her survival community, and directed operations to ensure the safety and safe travels home for countless victims of the disaster. This is an inspiring tale of a true leader in action.

Links of interest:

Real Intent

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14 Responses to “Leadership and Survival: A Story from the 2011 Japan Earthquake”

  1. Karen says:

    After Carol’s show was recorded, she told me a little more that I want to share with everyone. In Carol’s words:

    “I realized after that it was important for me to tell the story and be able to move on. I also realized that I did not say some important things, like I was one of the lucky ones. I was in a great place compared to others. I was actually safe compared to what other people went through…but at the time I did not know it. My heart goes out to the people of Japan…they are still trying to heal.

    “I also did not say how when I arrived in San Francisco…I was still in shock. I knew I was home when I stood on the curbside and saw my husband driving our white car (modern day white horse). He got out of the car and when I saw that face, his face, a face I was not sure I would ever see again…I knew I was home.”

    Thank you again, Carol, for sharing your truly inspiring story.

  2. Carol Hallett says:

    One additional fact to add: The earthquake in Japan on Friday 11March11 was a magnitude 9.0. This magnitude places the earthquake as the fourth largest in the world since 1900 and the largest in Japan since modern instrumental recordings began 130 years ago.

  3. Mac McDonald says:

    This is just another reason that I am proud to Carol my sister…..You did good sis……love you…..

  4. Charles says:

    Carol is an inspiration to us all. I know from experience that she is someone who can take charge in a crisis and everyone that was involved with her at this event is blessed that she was with them.

    Great interview too!

  5. Candy Bailey (sister) says:

    Carol is a hero!…
    All our (7 children) lives Carol has been the ‘rock’ the person who you could count on when you needed something anything. I am proud that she was able to make a difference for so many who needed her during the crisis in Japan. My heart also goes out to all those who didn’t have Carol during their hour of need.
    Carol is my hero!

  6. Cindy Wilson says:

    You’re my inspiration… so happy that your safe and boy was that quite a story. So scary … but if anyone could handle something like that, it would be you.

  7. Jin says:

    Having worked with Carol for so many years and seeing her in action, I am not surprised by what she did in Japan. She is a true leader in the real world! She has led many people to be a better person/to have a better life, and she will continue to be that light house for many many more in her life. Very proud of knowing her and working with her!

  8. Jim Girand says:


    Riveting story….very graphic and felt like I lived through it with you. Timing is everything – at Narita when it struck! Great presence steering people away from the windows and staying in contact with David was reassuring, as well as anticipation of the possible Tsunami. Defining the ‘survival’ process showed remarkable discipline and your leadership skills are enviable for 30 hours!!!!! Many people there owe you big time.

  9. Michael says:

    Wow! What a story! I’m amazed by your presence of mind and control on the situation.

    When is the movie coming out :-) ? Should I call Spielberg?!

  10. Fran Ratliff says:


    Thank you for sharing this frightening experince with me first hand.

    I am so proud to be your Friend. I have always felt we are family. I
    wish your Mom wete here to see this wonderful tribute to you. I do
    believe she was helping you from above knowing you could lead and help
    those you could to safety.

    This is just an example of the great leadership you have
    Forever your Friend, Fran
    Thanks to Dave for keeping us informed!!

  11. Ray Sundstrom says:

    Carol, way to take charge in a difficult situation. Your account of the experience was very interesting. One always wonders how you would react in a real disaster. We deal with our own little “disasters” every day at work and at home, but those are quite trivial compared to a real life threatening situation. I guess you have some experience with that now. Kind of makes you put things into perspective. My father marched from Normandy to Germany in World War II. He once told me about the war, “I decided that if I make it out of there alive, I will never worry about anything again.” He was a very calm relaxed guy, so I guess he must have lived by that.

  12. Carol G says:

    Wow! I’ll follow you any where and any time!



  13. Jacqui L says:

    Carol, what an ordeal to experience. Don’t do it again however! Blessings for so many that you were able to remain calm during this ordeal.
    You can be in my court anytime during a disaster.
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Hugs, Jacqui

  14. Lynda G says:

    Carol – I’m so proud of you! It is your nature to help people and you did a superb job for those people at the airport to understand the dangers of what earthquakes can do and for you to stay calm in doing so. You may have been scrared but knowing you, you show great courage and trust in your actions. Great interview by the way! Glad to have you as a friend and thank you for sharing this remarkable story. You made it home safe and thank God for that! Hugs, Lynda