Kasumi Hatori, Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class of 2024
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Tokyo, Aeronautics and Astronautics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Governmental bank (2 years), Digital consultancy (3 years)
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
As a data scientist, I gained experience building digital strategies for a number of startups as well as big companies. Through this experience I was really amazed by how internal or external entrepreneurs came up with new ideas and made people’s lives more convenient and easier. While I enjoyed translating their ideas into technical solutions, I found some PoC (proof of concept) projects fail because their objective was to use the latest technology, such as machine learning and deep learning, and lacked the perspective of generating true business value.
Meanwhile, I realized that for a successful digital transformation, change management and communication for a long-term vision should be involved after POC execution. This passion for acquiring essential business skills, such as building digital strategy, incorporated with business objectives and leading organizational change, naturally led me to business school.
Why did you choose Kellogg? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was drawn to the MBAi program! Unlike other programs, MBAi integrates business strategy and analytical technologies, including but not limited to artificial intelligence, data science, and advanced statistics. The goal of MBAi is perfectly aligned with mine, which is to become a future tech leader who can speak both languages.
Another factor I considered was Kellogg’s culture which drives true diversity. Kellogg is super supportive of international students by offering a pre-MBA English summer course and a multicultural camp prior to the school year starting, called Culture Camp, which brings together both international and domestic students. With this help, I was so sure that I could get out of my comfort zone and become a part of this global community. As an international student who has spent her entire life in Japan, I was intimidated to matriculate at first, but everyone was so willing to help me excel in a new environment.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I have experience in providing my own consulting services, including providing data analytics services to startups. To future Kellogg entrepreneurs – I can bring a perspective on how to plan a product roadmap, organize a data analytics team, and develop an initial prototype.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
Having struggled with GMAT reading comprehension (RC), I developed an AI to help me understand how to better answer RC questions. It was through this method that I better understood what to look for while answering RC questions! I have never met anyone who was tutored by AI.
Post-MBA career interests:
Post-MBA, I intend to pivot into a product management role. In the long run, it is my goal to launch a startup that integrates everything I have experienced in my life – product management, organizational management, and the vast network gained at Kellogg.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Get to know as many alumni as possible, including alumni from schools you initially didn’t intend to apply to. Trust your gut feeling – that will eventually dictate your #1 priority school.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I should have asked for feedback on my application essay from other international students. I reconcile getting feedback from only fellow Japanese students and it was a bit skewed. Your essay is a place where you can show the admissions team how you can be active on the global stage, so polishing my essay through a multicultural perspective would have made it more persuasive.
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped the GMAT. I recommend you set a deadline for the GMAT as well. Dragging it on too long won’t necessarily improve your score☹
What is your initial impression of the Kellogg students/culture/community?
Everyone is so supportive. I know that Kellogg students are all busy, but they kindly took the trouble to offer advice throughout the application process and to connect me with other Kellogg students.
What is one thing you have learned about Kellogg that has surprised you?
Kellogg is so generous to student partners (Joint Ventures). Classes, career counseling, and club activities are all available to JVs as well, and of course, Kellogg students can invite their JVs to social events, too. My JV immerses himself into the Kellogg community as much as he can when he visits me. Experience at Kellogg is life-changing not only for me but also for my JV.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am most anxious about finding comfort in a new environment. Japanese culture sits at the complete opposite end of the spectrum as it compares to American culture. Therefore, I am anxious that I will struggle to adapt to the new communication style.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited to make deep and life-lasting friends from different countries. A friendship built at Kellogg is also valuable in terms of business, I felt that strongly when I met two Kellogg alum who were classmates back in school and co-founded a data analytics company. It would be awesome if I could collaborate with my Kellogg friends after we graduate.