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Real Humans of the Dartmouth Tuck MBA Class of 2023

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dartmouth mba class of 2023Kakeru Tsubota, Dartmouth Tuck MBA Class of 2023

Age: 33
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Undergraduate Institution and Major: International Christian University, International Studies
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 10 years, technology 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I enjoyed my recent career transition from sales to strategy and wanted to develop my career as a corporate strategy leader in the U.S. An MBA was the best option to maintain the pace of career growth and switch locations.

Why did you choose Tuck? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I networked with 100-plus alumni before coming to Tuck and was convinced that I fit well with the community. I was surprised with how many said, “thank you for applying to Tuck,” as if they were a part of the admissions committee.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I have lived and worked in multicultural environments and sometimes struggled to find a fit in different cultures. I am passionate about helping international students find a home in this tight-knit community, and helping domestic students learn from the diverse perspectives around them.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I am a dad with three beautiful kids! They are the best teachers for making new friends, learning new things, and growing into a better person every day.

Post-MBA career interests:
Strategy and operations in the technology industry 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Reach out to as many alumni and current students as you can find in your network. Try to build your network of people you can trust and relate to. They will guide you to the right instinct and judgment and continue to be your mentors beyond just the application.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would consider applying to many schools from the beginning. I started with one dream school and almost lost hope when I found I wasn’t accepted. Your dream schools can change over the process (which did happen in my case) and applying to more schools won’t hurt.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I spent almost ten years wishing but not preparing for an MBA. I always wished I had started early once I put myself in the process. Start now if you think you might apply someday!

What is your initial impression of Dartmouth Tuck’s students/culture/community?
It is really a small and tight community. Here at Tuck, people care about you and try to establish a genuine relationship as much as your family does, which we call “Tuck fabric.” This pushes me out of my comfort zone to connect with new classmates and think about what I can give back to the community.

What is one thing you have learned about Tuck that has surprised you?
Tuck was the only school that asked about the legacy I want to contribute to the school, something that will live on after I graduate. This was a tricky question. I eventually chose to reunite people that I know and revive the Tuck Japan Club. I was surprised by how many alumni encouraged a newcomer like me to take initiative in the community. I really feel I am an essential part of the Tuck community.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
It did, mainly in the positive sense. With most of my work going virtual, I had more flexibility in time management, and I could spare more time to prepare for an MBA than I probably could have before the pandemic. Also, I had time to reflect on my career path moving forward, which enabled me to have a constructive and forward-looking conversation with my mentors.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Recruiting indeed gets daunting! I also always feel pressure from fear of missing out on opportunities and making the wrong choices. On the other hand, it is exciting that we have such freedom to choose activities we want to partake in.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I continue to be surprised by the number of leadership opportunities I am exposed to. One valuable aspect of an MBA is that you get to reformulate your personal values and goals through a series of choices during your time on campus.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.