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Real Humans of IESE’s MBA Class of 2022

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Koji Ozawa, IESE MBA Class of 2022

Age: 29
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Waseda University, Global Political Economy
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Conglomerate(trading and investment), 6 years and half

Why business school? Why now?:
I have pursued my MBA for three reasons: (1)acquire general business management knowledge and decision-making ability (2)expose myself to diversity and train soft skills (3)reflect on my career.

In my previous professional experience, I felt that I need to learn business principles that I can utilize in broad business situations. To do so, I decided to dedicate myself to an intensive learning opportunity for two years. At the same time, I wanted to train myself in a diverse environment. This is the reason why I pursued an MBA now.

Why IESE? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
IESE offers almost everything I have expected for my MBA: general management focus, interactive case-method class, diversity (nationality & professional background), intense team learning (everyday team meeting), a two-year program (internship opportunity), and a great place to spend my life in – Barcelona. IESE is the best school that fully matches what I have aspired to pursue in my MBA.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
Two perspectives: 1) I know Asia which is the growing market in the world 2) I have engaged in a broad business field. I have engaged in trading business (exported Japanese raw materials to Asian countries) and turnaround management of small-mid size company in my previous job (related with sales, procurement, logistics, production, finance … though not fully for each). Through this experience, I got familiar with Asia overall, especially China, and general topics of company management. Though I am struggling in adding value in specific subjects, I will continue to make efforts to add more value by, for example, challenging complex and broad business cases.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I wanted to spend my life in Barcelona. I visited many cities in Europe two years before my applications and I liked Barcelona the most. This is one of my reasons why I chose IESE. But did not mention it at all in my application and interview. Barcelona is a great city: comfortable weather, good and reasonable food, kind people…etc.

Post-MBA career interests?
I am aiming at Consulting and Private Equity in Japan now. My current long-term broad goal is to contribute to making the world better. For me now, one of the ways is to be helpful in supporting Japanese society and firms to regain vitality in the world. I have been looking for my post-MBA career and want to deepen my understanding through internship experiences as well. I will continue to think about it.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?

Ask my old friends and relatives to see my essays and give feedback. The essay tells not only what I did in my professional career, but also what your important values are, how you lived to now, and what is most important for you in your life. Friends and relatives know me well and their feedback was truly helpful in finalizing my essays.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
Start from the basics. For me, GMAT/GRE was hard and I was struggling with it.  I started by studying how to solve the questions but it was not efficient for me. Looking back at the situation, I did not have enough vocabulary to understand questions and answers completely. I changed my way of studying and after reinforcing my vocabulary enough, I could achieve my target score. So, I would start with that.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Definitely GMAT/GRE. I took eight times in total: four times for each in 10 months. What motivated me to tackle these tests was the feeling that I need to strengthen my reading skills to survive in an MBA. In fact, here in IESE, I read three cases every day from Monday to Friday. Now I feel that the training for GMAT/GRE is helping me a lot to deal with reading cases in a limited time.

What is your initial impression of IESE’s students/culture/community?
Kind and respectful to each other. In September, we took online communication classes and learned the way we can deliver speeches to move, impress, and motivate people. To be honest, my speaking was not so good and I was struggling with it. However, in the practical sessions in the team, all members listened to my speech carefully and gave me a lot of meaningful feedback. I could learn a lot from them. The most impressive thing was that thanks to the atmosphere, I was not afraid of failures. Everyone is broad-minded and understanding.

One thing you have learned about IESE that has surprised you?
The whole process of the program is more organized than I thought. As the class proceeds every week, I got noticed that each class is related to each other. For example, we need to use the knowledge we learned in Decision Analysis to consider the case in Analysis of Business Problems. Each professor grasps what is taught in other classes then. I was surprised at this horizontal connection among each class.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
The balance among many topics: studies, career activities, social, etc. It is the so-called “FOMO – fear of missing out.”  Even now, I feel that I am overflowed a bit and trying to stretch myself. There are many things I want to experience but time is so limited. To prioritize them is important but it is always difficult.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Classes and team activities. Now, in our first term, we are learning basics in each business field. I heard that from second-terms, by utilizing that basic knowledge, we will tackle more complicated cases. I want to do my best and to be able to add more value to the team and class. For me, daily life in IESE is the most exciting scene. I want to show my gratitude to my teammates, classmates, and all IESE staff. Thanks to all of them, I am enjoying my MBA life now.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.