Self intro / Linkedin
I've worked for Hitachi as an HR since I graduated from university and led several global projects, such as PMI in a M&A in the UK, establishing a joint venture in Saudi Arabia, creating the employment and compensation scheme in Taiwan and Indonesia, and supporting the largest cross border M&A in the company’s history. In college, I studied abroad in the US for about a year and enjoyed learning business. Outside work, I love soccer and music, especially playing my guitar, traveling abroad (as my wife does) and cooking (though she doesn’t).
Tell me about your decision to study abroad in the US for college - it seems like a key turning point?
I wanted to achieve something I would be proud of during college. One day I went to New York with my friend. I was overwhelmed to see diverse communities and vibrant energy in every corner of Manhattan, so I was determined to go to the US again to challenge myself and grow more by joining an official study abroad program.
Why did you join Hitachi?
Through the international experiences in the US during college, I started thinking that I wanted to work for a global company to expose myself to the international businesses and that I really felt proud of being Japanese, seeing a lot of made-in-Japan products there. So, I applied for Japanese manufacturing companies expanding their businesses globally and luckily I got an offer from Hitachi.
When did you start thinking about the MBA?
When I’ve accomplished several global projects for around 6-7 years, I felt I couldn’t be satisfied anymore and wanted to challenge myself more. So, I considered options and found the MBA as one of the best opportunities to change my career from an HR project lead to a business project manager.
You changed your plan and applied at a later date, can you tell me about that situation and how did getting experience on that project help you become a better candidate?
I passed the sponsorship selection at Hitachi and was supposed to apply in 2018. However, I was assigned to the biggest M&A project ever and decided to postpone the application because I felt committed and responsible to complete the project. Looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life, as I overcame a lot of tough situations in the global contexts with world leading business and M&A experts and developed the negotiation skills, strategic thinking, global mindset, and grid, which made me a better candidate for top business schools that welcome those qualities.
You decided to apply for the 1 year vs. the 2 year program. Can you share your insights about why you thought that would be more suitable for you?
Having a clear objective was the key. When I reapplied for schools in 2020 with sponsorship from Hitachi, I was still clinging to the 2 year programs since I wanted to take time and study longer, though I knew it was difficult to be admitted to the top 2 years programs at my age of 34. But, one day I came across one article in some career advisor’s blog, which said, “Going to a grad school should not be a goal. Your goal must be beyond it.” and I was convinced. I started thinking about why I wanted an MBA and reached the conclusion that I still wanted to change my career to do business on my own. I wanted to “use an MBA" rather than just get “an MBA”, so growing fast and coming back to work early was my priority. I realized the MBA is a tool, not a goal, and one year is the best fit at this timing for me.
The score making was not easy for you and for many others, do you have any good tips for other applicants?
I analyzed myself and found the best way of studying for me. For example, I noticed I was really bad at sitting at my desk for a long time to concentrate (I rather like working and doing something). So, I measured how long I could concentrate and found a sweet spot, and set the timer and took a rest once my limit came. In addition, I realized if I had a sufficient block of time to concentrate, my score went up, so I made priorities on my work and chores and got as much time as possible for studying. The test skills and coaching from my mentor at a prep school helped me a lot, too. I believe the key is knowing and adapting yourself to the right way.
If you could go back and change one thing when you were 20 what would you do?
I would do external activities more. It’s not because I could write it down in my resume, but I could nurture my personality and become a more mature human. I just started getting executive coaching as a leadership program at MIT and learned that leadership is all about becoming a mature person, not only at a workplace but also at home with your family and any place with your friends. Eventually, admissions will look for those types of persons, seeing you as a person, not on your resume.
Your ideas for the essays seemed very creative, can you give any hints to applicants on how to write creative, personal and powerful essays?
I always try to think of the “points” first, and then connect those dots, which I learned a lot from Ed. When I read the questions in essays, I tried to understand admission’s intention (of course, with the help and instruction from Ed), and made a point of my essay like “spotting the destination in a map”. I also thought stories as supporting evidence like “items to level you up in a game”. Lastly, I wrote them down to connect those points and stories as if I was "drawing routes in the map to get all the items and reach the destination". In real processes, you should go back and forth, but this is my basic approach I’ve developed with Ed.
You met the MIT admissions once before and made a good impression and I think that helped your candidacy. What are some hints on how to interact with admissions offices to make a strong first impression?
The admission process was matching yourself and schools. So, I not only studied myself, but also researched admission's needs and preferences by hearing from Ed, current students, and admissions themselves on YouTube (there are lots of videos thanks to pandemic). In my case, I met Rod Garcia of MIT and from my research I knew he liked the informal way of “Izakaya talk” to understand and sense a candidate's true personality. In addition, I tried to imagine what kind of situation he would be in at my interview, and I thought it was late at night and tiring for him after having several interviews, so I determined my strategy and thought my meeting with him should be fun and impressive with my passion for MIT. It worked. It was not like subordinating you to pretend as if you would be matched with a school, but like thinking how to get someone’s attention to date and marry.
What was the most valuable thing about the Edogijuku Services for your applications?
Objective and logical advice with the right points and information. You’ll lose sight because knowing yourself, learning schools, and matching those are intimidating and tough. So, his advice always lifted my face up and made me see things at a high level. Rich information was also strong to match myself with each school trait.
Do you have any other advice for future applicants?
I thought the MBA application was a solo sport and felt so lonely while doing, but looking back it was actually a team sport. I couldn’t stop sending emails to thank so many people who helped me, including Ed (of course, the first email!), teachers at a prep school, GMAT study group mates, current students, alumni, bosses, colleagues, business partners, friends, and my family, until midnight after being admitted. Then I realized I was not alone. So, my advice is take ownership of your MBA "project" and manage your “team” to reach your aim in your application path. It is not others to pave your way, but you to make your own way with teammates you choose on your responsibility. I guarantee Ed will be your great fellow in your team.