Thursday, April 23, 2015

Interview with a current Cambridge Judge MBA student

I am pleased to offer this interview with a current Cambridge Judge MBA student!

1. After you were admitted, looking back on the way you prepared for the MBA in the spring and summer, is there anything you would change? Anything you would have done more of or less of?

If I had more time to spend before going to the MBA, I would have read many more books about MBA classes written in my native language (Japanese). For instance, I did not know a lot about Strategy and Marketing, so I have sometimes had difficulty in understanding those classes. However, I could have gotten a lot of foundational knowledge by reading textbooks or website advance in Japanese. I therefore think that with getting pre-information about areas that were unfamiliar to me, my understanding could have been deepened. 

2. What's a typical day in the life of an MBA student in your program?

This is not my case, but if you are a job seeker during the program, you should spend at least four days like the case below.

730am Wake-up and breakfast
830am Leave home for campus by bicycle
900am-1230pm Core/ Elective Class 
1230pm-200pm Lunch at college close to campus
200pm-530pm Core/ Elective Class
530pm-700pm Career Session
730pm Formal Dinner
930pm Arrive home

A fifth day can be off if you want, but you can also choose to work on projects outside the program. If you have a chance, you can participate club activities or social communities after classes, too.

3. Can you write a bit about a course that you would recommend future students take?

I would like to recommend Strategic Human Resource as an elective. This is a course about management HR, and we can get a lot of insight for managing an organization from it. The highlight of this class was when we visited one of the biggest finance groups in London. It is like a real case study, but we can feel how a big finance company struggles in terms of management where different cultures exist. I would say the class is sort of mix between practicality and theory of management, but it would be useful for post MBA.

4. Have you had the time to get involved in any extra-curricular activities? If so, what ones and what are you doing in them?

I was involved in one of the university’s sport club activities. This is really important because attending an Oxford match, a Varsity match, is one of the most honorable activities in Oxbridge (Cambridge/Oxford). I actually represented the Cambridge karate first team this February, and won one match. After participating in the match, the people who represented the first team can receive the title of “blue”. This title is the highest honor and enables you to join some societies among blues. I also got the title of blue after competing in the Varsity.

5. What have your experiences been like in learning/project teams? 

One is management of people who have different culture and backgrounds. The other thing is to get in touch with new business areas I have never known. We can experience at least three projects during the course, so I deeply worked with more than 10 people during the program so far. There are many nationalities within teams and different ideas that we worked on during the projects. At first, I found it difficult to work with people from cultures that embrace aggressiveness more than my own, but gradually understood what I should do to manage the team. In addition, I belonged to an agri-tech project and a DNA sequencing project during the programs. Both areas were not familiar to me before coming to Cambridge, but each experience proved to be really valuable. For example, when working for the DNA project, I stayed in Mountain View, California for a month and got in touch with people in Silicon Valley. We succeeded to propose recommendations to the CEO of the company and I felt this was a breakthrough experience for myself.

6. Can you share your plans for the summer?

I am not going to find a job since my company is sponsoring me. I therefore will try to source a summer project. The one I am considering is aiming for French company’s business development since this company would like to expand its network in Japan. It would take one month to finish this project and now I am having conversations with the potential client about the project scope.

7. Looking back, what has been most surprising to you about your MBA life, compared to your original expectations before you enrolled?

I cannot imagine the extent to which Japanese people, including myself, are not able to express their opinions during classes. Even if Japanese students say their opinions, they have difficulty in managing discussions. I think this is because of their lack of training. I would like to encourage people from Japan to speak without hesitation. No risks, no gains.

I'd like to close here with a big thank you to the interviewee for taking time out of his busy schedule to communicate with me.

John Couke