Monday, December 9, 2019

MBA Interview Workshop in Tokyo on January 19, 2020

I am pleased to announce that Adam Markus and I will be hosting an interview workshop in Tokyo on January 19, 2020. The details follow and if you are interested in participating you can register at this email address -

John Couke

MBA Interview Workshop in Tokyo on January 19, 2020      
Interview preparation is a very, very important part of the MBA application process. Please join Adam Markus and John Couke for a highly interactive 3-hour workshop that will kick off your interview preparation.

Proactive Interview Preparation:
In the first part of the workshop, we will describe and practice (in groups and with instructors) a method of interview preparation that many applicants have used to gain admission to the world’s top MBA programs. 

Our objective is that you become better at preparing for MBA interviews, by focusing on your own stories and key points and practicing those, rather than working from a script. At its core, proactive interview preparation is based on thinking about your message, no matter what the question. You don’t know what you will be asked, but you do know your message. Being ready for the unexpected is thus incorporated into the very method itself because you don’t focus on preparing for answering specific questions, but rather for knowing things you want to discuss about yourself. 

For more about proactive interview preparation, see

Active Listening:
We will then focus on enhancing your ability to listen and engage with others during an interview. While it is important to know what you want to say, it is equally important to focus on having a conversation during an interview. Based on our experience, interviewees don’t always actively listen enough. Sometimes they just focus on speaking and speaking too much at once. By focusing as much as on what the other person is saying as on what you want to say, you can better connect with an interviewer, which is critical for making a positive impression. For some kinds of interviews, such as Wharton’s Group Interview, active listening is critical because you have to engage with other members of your interview group. 

1.      General Introduction: what is being assessed                  
2.      Active Listening Group Exercises
3.      Strengths and weaknesses                   
4.      Story-telling 
5.      Why MBA and why now                                
6.      Wrap-up (key messages and Q&A)                                                      

·     InstructorsAdam Markus, Graduate Admissions Guru and John Couke, MBA Admissions Consultant
·     Date & Time: Sunday, January 19th, 2020 from 13:30-16:30
·     Location:  C-Work Hanzomon (details:
·     Cost: 27,500 yen (including tax) paid in advance by bank transfer
·     PaymentPrepayment is due by January 16th, 2019, after this cash (29,900 yen including tax) will be accepted at the door
·     Seating Capacity: 30 people

To make a reservation and arrange for payment, please email

Recording: We encourage you to audio record the workshop. To protect your personal information please do not reveal anything about yourself that you would be uncomfortable having recorded by others. Therefore, changing the name of your company, clients, etc. is highly advised during participatory parts of the workshop. 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Women's Career Development and the MBA: a Seminar at Affinity on July 21st

On Sunday July 21st Affinity is hosting a seminar on women's career development and the role an MBA can play in that process. The event will be held in Tokyo and will feature a panel of MBA graduates. If you are interested more information can be found here.

John Couke

Monday, November 12, 2018

CMU Tepper Webinar for Japanese Applicants

I was asked by a former client to post the information below on an upcoming webinar hosted (in Japanese) by current students of the CMU Tepper MBA program.

John Couke

Carnegie Mellon Tepper 日本人在校生によるWebinar開催のお知らせ


12/8(土) 10:30pm - 12:00am(日本時間)に、Tepper School of Business在校生によるWebinarを開催致します(本WebinarTepper Admissionとは関係ない非公式なものです)。本機会を利用し、Tepperのこと、Pittsburghでの生活、受験のTipsなど、受験に向け気になることを何でもお聞きいただければと思います。


·  お申込みいただいた方に後ほどWebinarへのアクセス方法を送付しますのでそちらからアクセスください
·  日本語で行います
·  在校生が4名(1年生1名、2年生3名)参加します
·  上記申込フォーム中の質問は英語でも日本語でも構いません
·  1時間で一度終わりますが、質問が多い場合はその後希望者のみで30分程度延長させていただきます



Carnegie Mellon Tepper

Monday, August 27, 2018

Interview with UAL MA in Innovation Management Program current student

I'd like to thank Daisuke Wakamiya for participating in an interview so that anyone interested in grad school, and in particular interested in innovation management, can learn more about his experiences in this unique educational program. Below are his responses to my questions about the MA in Innovation Management Program at UAL (University of the Arts London) as well as his life in this vibrant city.

1. Why did you choose this unique program?

First of all, multidisciplinary and multicultural talents gather and collide here, producing something new. I have noticed collaboration amongst people of different professions/nationalities is key for innovation. That is why this course was ideal for me. In addition, I’m convinced the composition of the program, featuring a personal project after team explorations, would help me focus my interest and philosophy. Different from my prior working experience, this MA Innovation Management Programme is focusing on exploring new perspective and ideas, rather than making physical products. Since I have worked as a hardware engineer for 10 years, I already have a lot of experiences of making things. That is why the course was ideal for me to learn a more creative way of thinking, similar to what artists and designers do. At the same time, I wanted to be the one to invent the products and services on site rather than making decisions. This attitude made me choose design school rather than business school. On top of that, London is the ideal location for me because the city is not only famous for being a melting pot of races contributing to the diversity, but it is also a travel hub - you can fly to most European cities within a few hours.

2. Please walk us through a typical weekday as a student in this program.

This program relies enormously on independent learning - we basically don’t have lectures every weekday. Besides, scheduling is one of the team project tasks, and as such each team builds up their own schedule. Bearing that in mind, what follows is a typical schedule.

From 10 to 10:30 on Monday, we initiated a student led meeting where we share our skills and knowledge with each other. For example, we had a coaching session from a course mate. As most of us have some professional background, it is a really useful opportunity to learn about each other. After that we have a lecture involved in the project. Almost all lectures are interactive and often include some workshops. Then students spend time on each team project in the afternoon. As most of the outputs of the team projects are team presentations, brainstorming can be the main part of the discussion. In the evening, I take part in a seminar the university organizes from time to time. The topics range widely from managing stress to reflective thinking, which is also useful for students.

3. Is there a course or experience that you particularly recommend?

In this course, the professor offers some philosophical frameworks to find innovation opportunities. One project involved “discourse”. In this project, we as a team researched a given theme. Discourse is simply defined how people speak and write a topic and is also a methodology to analyse a topic from the past to present and develop a future scenario. Through the project we have noticed how our minds and perspectives are biased. One insight we have gained from this is the attitude to keep a naïve mind during research. As such, the MA Innovation Management Program encourages us to learn not only design thinking methodology but also different perspectives to allow us to critically analyze a theme. I highly recommended this. 

4. Have you enjoyed the team projects? What have you learned from working with your peers?

Definitely yes! Actually, most of the projects in the 1st year are team projects. As the members are randomly divided into groups, I have tagged with different member in each project. I enjoy getting inspired by teammates from different countries and different professions. There is collision, collaboration and cooperation. What I have learned most is the importance of adaptability. To be honest, I’m still struggling with the language barrier like catching up to fast-paced discussions with native English speakers. So I had to come up with some survival skills such as asking for a recap, setting aside time for my speech in the beginning and using rough sketching to better relate ideas. These practices have worked. Besides, some of my colleagues told me that distilling information through sketching is one of my strengths. Pushing the boundaries with peers can be a tough experience, but it will make you grow.

5. How’s life in London? What kinds of things are you doing?

It’s a once in a lifetime experience, to say the least. Although I continue to be busy with group work and reading assignments on weekdays, I often hang out around the city, and get immersed in British culture such as old buildings, museums (most are free), crawling pubs and restaurants, going for picnics at parks and other such activities. Watching World Cup games at local pubs with a pint of pale ale was really fun. Since craft beer has been getting popular here, most of the pubs have more than 10 taps (type of beer), inviting you into the deep brewery world. As for food, there are lots of great restaurants, but they can be a bit pricey. Gastropubs are an alternative, where you can have modern British dishes and beer with traditional atmosphere and at a decent price. On holidays, I go for short trips to neighboring cities such as Barcelona, Paris and Helsinki. 

6. After receiving an acceptance to the programme and before actually arriving in London, I imagine that you did quite a bit of preparation. Reflecting on that period of time is there anything you wish you had done more/less of?

If you are a normal Japanese person like me, I recommend that you improve your English conversation skills, especially listening comprehension skills. I got a 7.0 on IELTS, but I couldn’t catch what local people said at all when I arrived, and it is still difficult after one year. Except a fast pace in conversations, and as well the British/London accent might not be one you are familiar with. It feels like the difference between Queen and London accents is as much as the difference between Standard Japanese and the Osaka dialect.

Thanks Daisuke for your time! 

John Couke

Monday, July 9, 2018

Wharton event in Tokyo on August 4, 2018

I received information from a current Wharton student on an upcoming Wharton event in Tokyo. Details in Japanese follow!

John Couke

 Wharton MBA 若手卒業生による非公式説明会
84()、コレド日本橋にて、若手卒業生によるWharton MBA説明会を開催します。学校主催の公式説明会(9月予定) に先立ち、ウェブサイトだけでは十分に伝わらないWharton MBAの魅力や特徴を、よりカジュアルな雰囲気の中でご紹介します。Whartonへの出願を検討されている方はもちろん、将来的にMBAに進学したいと考えられている方、MBA受験するか迷っている方もぜひご参加いただければと思っております。
Why MBA/Wharton、学校や授業の雰囲気、課外活動、卒業後のキャリアまで幅広いトピックをカバー
日時:2018 8 4 日(土)13:30 開場、14:00 開始、17:00 頃まで(途中退席可)
場所:コレド日本橋5(103-0027 中央区日本橋1-4-1WASEDA NEO
Wharton Club of Japan : 
上田浩太郎氏1998 年に東京大学法学部を卒業後、マッキンゼーアンドカンパニーに入社。2003 Wharton MBA 修了。マッキンゼーに復職後、2010 年より同社パートナーとして、メディア・テクノロジー業界を中心としたクライアントワークに従事。また組織・人材プラクティスを立ち上げ責任者を務める。2015 年に株式会社ベネッセホールディングスに執行役員CSO として参画。2016 年より教育・生活事業会社であるベネッセコーポレーションの取締役(戦略・人事担当)に就任。現在は同取締役(戦略・R&D 担当)、ベネッセi キャリア取締役を務める。

永見世央氏2004 年に慶應義塾大学総合政策学部を卒業後、みずほ証券株式会社にてM&A アドバイザリー業務に従事。2006 年から2013 年まで米カーライル・グループに所属し、バイアウト投資と投資先の経営及び事業運営に関与。その後株式会社ディー・エヌ・エーを経て2014 4 月にラクスル株式会社にCFO として参画し、同年10 月に取締役就任。ペンシルバニア大学ウォートンスクールにてMBA 取得。

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

MBA Essay Consulting Event: Sunday, June 3, 2018

I will be co-hosting with admissions consultant Eiki Satori an event at Affinity in Tokyo at 10am on Sunday June 3, 2018. Please register if you are in Tokyo and interested in learning more about the MBA admissions process. I will be discussing the process of brainstorming and writing essays for the Columbia MBA set, but may substitute in other essay questions if new ones are available then. 

Details (in Japanese) can be found here.

John Couke

Monday, April 16, 2018

1-page vs 2-page Resumes

Your resume is an important document that requires constant attention and updating, even if you are not looking for a job or applying to grad school.  How long should this document be? My short answer is that the 1-page resume is the only document which should be used in your job or school application (except for those positions that ask for lengthy detail on professional or academic accomplishments, i.e. a CV).  But that doesn't mean there is no use for a longer version.

I recommend regularly updating a 2-4 page resume (a master resume), that includes all of your positions and accomplishments. When you will actually use it, cut it down to a final 1-page focused and strategic version.  There are several benefits to be had from such a system.

Benefit #1: You can keep everything, without having to show everything.

For many, it is hard to cut their 6th consecutive M&A deal from a resume, especially when they all seem to be so interesting!  But the reality is that this level of duplicity is rarely necessary in a finished resume.  So, keep the master resume as a comprehensive list, while the finished resume can be a more focused version that contains just those contents that are most relevant for the job or application.  This is a great way to satisfy both urges people feel when they make a resume: 1) they want it to reflect absolutely everything, and 2) they want to feel that it is focused to the individual reader. It is hard to accomplish both with just one document, so don't even try.

Benefit #2: Content which is cut from the final version doesn't disappear.

I used to keep just a 1-page resume, and so when I decided to add something, invariably something else had to be cut.  This is fine of course, but what if one of those cut accomplishments may have value in a different, future situation? If all you are doing is continually refining and juggling the content in your 1-page resume, then once you cut something you may forget about it - and it may be useful later.

Benefit #3: The master resume can be easily adapted into a finished resume that is targeted for specific situations.

I've mentioned here that the finished resume needs to focus the reader's attention on the details of your background that are most relevant for them. The resume for your application to the MIT Sloan MBA program is not necessarily going to be the same resume you would submit for a job as a domestic sales manager at a fashion retailer. Your finished resume should fit each individual need to which it may be applied and part of that means selecting which accomplishments are most relevant.

Note that as you finalize resumes for different purposes, you are not only cutting the volume of material so that it fits 1 page, but you may also be tweaking the word choice within bullet points to highlight different skills that you may aim to highlight for different purposes.

A final note on length

But why is it so necessary to make all of these painful cuts in order to arrive at my finished 1-page resume? Wouldn't a 2 page version just be easier to make? Why do I have to carefully go over all of my accomplishments in order to find just those key ones that are most representative of my skill-set, and that are most relevant to the reader? In asking these questions, you are giving yourself the answers: you need to make all of these decisions and evaluations of your resume content, so that your reader doesn't have to.  Your 1-page resume is the movie trailer of (the relevant parts of) your life - it is short, to the point, and gets the viewer interested in wanting to learn more.  Can a two-page resume do this? In most cases it can, but a one-page resume does it better, because it is more succinct. There is a reason why movie trailers are only 2-minutes or so - because that is all it takes to get you interested in the story being advertised.

Here's a quick summary of the benefits of having a 1 page resume:

1) A 1-page resume offers the strongest initial impact, and makes it easy for the reader to quickly scan your background and be impressed.

2) A 1-page resume has only the most highly relevant and impressive content, because you have taken the time to select which bullet points to include.

3) A 1-page resume doesn't require the reader to go back and forth between pages or have to hunt for what they are looking for. Everything is laid out clearly.

So, start working on your "master version" resume today, so that you are ready to make a finely-honed 1-page version of it when it's time for that next job opportunity or school application.

John Couke