After graduating from the Univ. of Tokyo with a bachelor degree of Law, I joined a trading company, where I have worked 9+ years in the Energy industry. My experiences range from M&A in Oil & Gas upstream in the U.S and Australia to business development in renewable energy in Asian emerging markets.
When did you get interested in an MBA?
I got interested in pursuing an MBA in Dec 2018. While I felt I was well equipped to perform at my work, I often reflected on what I wanted to achieve in my career using my expertise. By chance, I had a chance to talk with my colleague who was about to go to the U.S. MBA, and he talked about the social impact movement, which drew growing attention in MBA education. I was fascinated by the concept and felt that I wanted to learn more about it. I decided to pursue an MBA on the same day and started score making on the next day.
How do you think that an MBA will help your future career?
Ultimately hard skills taught in MBA can be learnt by other means and platforms at a lot cheaper price, but I believe MBA is still valuable since it allows us to access people, places, and opportunities that we otherwise cannot reach out. For me, an MBA is most beneficial in that I can have opportunities to know about social impact and people who share the same passion. Being in MBA, we can do internships, work in student clubs, and take related classes to explore areas we
are interested in. I plan to put my focus during my MBA on figuring out what social impact really is, how it works, what I can do in the sector, and how I can design my future career.
In addition, I studied and worked predominantly in Japan before my MBA. I wanted to expose myself to a diversified environment to know new cultures and new people, which I believe will enrich my life. I also wanted to be immersed in brilliant and passionate people to see how I can perform in a competitive and international environment. Given my motivations mentioned above, being in a highly-ranked, diverse MBA program like INSEAD was the best option.
It is challenging to manage time with your work and family and spare time to prepare for the MBA, how did you manage time?
With my wife and two kids, squeezing my time to prepare for my MBA was not easy. At the same time, I was never alone throughout my MBA application journey. All in all, I did better with my family than I would have done without. Before Covid-19 and work-from-home, on weekdays, I allocated around two hours either before or after work to do MBA preparation. I secured a shared work space close to my office to focus on MBA stuff. Typically, I spent my time with my kids in the morning and studied in the evening since they go to bed earlier than I come home. I tried to minimize overtime to keep time for MBA prep. I was lucky that I had already worked in the same position for several years and was able to manage my work mostly within the work hours. On weekends, I had one day with my family and another for MBA prep. My wife and her parents, who live close to my home, extended full support so that I could secure a day each weekend. After starting work-from-home, balancing between MBA preparation and family got much easier. Without the need to commute, I spent the evening time with my family, taking baths with kids and having dinner together, and then I spent as much time as I wanted after my family sleeps. Again, I could deal with my work mostly during work hours so I could focus on my MBA after finishing my work.
For many people including me, MBA preparation is not a short sprint but a marathon where we experience many ups and downs along the way. Having a wife to share my progress and having kids to play with are my best relief, which allowed me to re-energize even when exhausted and get ready for MBA prep again.
You were sponsored by the company. That is a great honor but sometimes it is challenging to develop your own goal. Share some insights about that process.
In order to make strong MBA applications, we need to plausibly present what we experienced in the past, what we want to achieve in the future, how MBA helps achieve that goal, and what kind of passion drives you in your past and future career. This is the same whether or not you are sponsored. Being a company sponsored applicant, your future goal is supposed to, at least broadly, align with what your company aims to achieve (If your passion is outside your current company, it is not reasonable to get the company’s sponsorship in the first place). This is how the MBA admission committee expects in reviewing your application. You need to be authentic but at the same time be mindful about the above-mentioned context. In my case, what I present in the company sponsorship selection and in the MBA application are
not exactly the same. In the former, I put more focus on the strategy of the company and how I can contribute to it by gaining an MBA. In the latter, I had much more emphasis on my personal story, my experience in emerging markets and my passion to pursue impact in emerging markets. However, I kept in mind that my future goal can be indeed achieved in the same company. All of my essays and presentations share my same passion to make a positive impact for people in need, so in that sense I could keep my authenticity.
You are going to study in France at INSEAD, what are you most excited about?
As I mentioned, I am most excited to explore the social impact realm through internship, electives, and club activities. I am eager to learn like-minded people and practitioners and open up my future career possibilities. In addition, INSEAD is the most diverse business school in the world with the highest reputation as an educational institution. I cannot wait to see my classmates who are super brilliant and unique in their career and personalities. I will be in France with my family for our first journey overseas. I am also looking forward to experiencing new life in France with them.
There are many challenging parts to the MBA application process, what was the most challenging part for you?
Essay was the most challenging part for me. While my passion for social impact was real, finding out my unique story that plausibly supports my passion was not an easy task. It required deep self-reflection and many essay iterations, most of which did not impress Ed and made me work for the next iteration. I ended up spending almost 6 months ruminating on my core essay story. However, once I succeeded in weaving my own story, I was able to tell it with confidence in the interviews.
What was the most valuable thing about the Edogijuku Services for your applications?
Ed has been my companion throughout my MBA application, starting from essay construction to application review and interview preps. To enumerate a few of many unique values he provides, I would start with his candid feedback. Backed by an unparalleled, successful track record advising top Japanese MBA applicants, Ed always provided valuable viewpoints and opinions, which were the important yardsticks for me to know how good (or bad) my essay or interview responses were. I knew that I had to work harder if I could not impress him, and I was on the right track if his feedback was positive. As we have no “correct answer” in an MBA application, having such an authentic and trustful viewpoint is what I could not do without.
Second, I love his swift and flexible service. Ed is always quick in providing feedback. That was especially helpful when the due date of applications was close, enabling me to brush up my applications until the last minute. He was also flexible in providing his service. By charging only for actual minutes spent, Ed allowed me to send many iterations for review in a given paid hour. While the hourly rate is not cheap, I could make the most of it thanks to his flexibility.
Finally, I admire his personality. While he did not hesitate to provide critical feedback when necessary, he kept an encouraging attitude and was always constructive. Thanks to him, I could stay positive in my MBA application journey and overcame challenges I faced.
If you could go back and change one thing when you were 20 what would you do?
I do not regret my past decisions, but I would put more effort into academics in university since my GPA is a disaster!
Also, I would try to expand my world by interacting with people outside my community, which in my case was the rugby football club of the university. Such interactions would have given me more chances to broaden my perspectives and values while I was younger.
Do you have any other advice for future applicants?
Sometimes I felt jealous of people who speak perfect English, have international and unique backgrounds since I did not think I had any of these attributes. However, now I sincerely believe that your life is unique to you and every story can shine if rightly presented. You do not need to be perfect in order to get into your target schools. I would like future applicants to have confidence in themselves and try to be a better version of themselves, rather than comparing you with others
and craving what they do not have.
Also, an MBA application is more like a marathon than a short sprint. I recommend finding people with whom you can share your difficulties and joys. It can be your partner, family, or friends.
Maybe your counselor. Having such people makes you more resilient and your success a lot more wonderful!