[ STE Relay Column : Narratives 058]
Haijing Tong “Fun Journey In Maki’s Zemi”

Haijing Tong / 早稲田大学大学ビジネススクール

[Profile] I worked as a language trainer in Human Resource Development Center of Samsung before I came to Waseda. My primary responsibility was giving lectures to senior managers from Samsung. I like options, I like security, and I like new changes. With these wants, I came to Waseda Business School for my MBA study. At this point in my life, I consider MBA to be necessary since I need to gain a broader understanding of business management and to sharpen my analytical skills in order to be successful in future work.

The first new thing I encountered after entering to WBS is to select a Zemi. I have never heard of this term before and it sounded unique, which made me more interested in the whole process. Students choose a Zemi (seminar) class, which consists of a small group gathering with same specific field that members would like to research. Each Zemi is led by a professor who specializes in each field, and students are required to discuss and research with their fellow members. Students can extend their knowledge and at the same time establish a high quality cross cultural human network. Since my long term career plan is to create my own company which specialized in online education, I would like to explore more about the successful mode for Internet Education related start-ups. Professor Maki is specialized in the field of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation, which makes a great match to my future path.

Compared with other Zemi, Maki’s Zemi have its own characteristics. Firstly, we do regular things as other Zemi do, such as case discussions and presentations of papers, etc. The topics are various, ranging from things related to Japan, Englishinizaion at Rakuten, Womenomics in Japan, to global subjects, Ecosystem of Xiaomi, Google’s localization and Baidu’s globalization, Block chain and Bitcoin. In addition, we have opportunities to discuss the most interesting topic with evening Zemi students as well, for instance, this semester we talked about Cipla’s case, which was a very successful joint discussion. Since everyone in Zemi has unique backgrounds, PhD in medical field, researchers, engineers, journalists, and government officials, discussions under these various and diverse backgrounds provided completely different angles with insightful and enlightening reasoning regarding the understanding of the same issue.

In addition to case discussion, we also organized company visits and Zemi trip every semester. In my first semester in Fall 2018, for example, we visited Google Japan to learn about the unique work environment there and its impact on the success of Google Japan and its employees. Then in March 2019, we visited Shenzhen-China’s Silicon Valley to see how ecosystem was shaped. We maintained good relationships with other Zemi and went to company visits and carry out other activities together as well, for instance, we went to Maeda with Asaba Zemi, and Rakuten with Osanai Zemi, both were very successful and helped us understand entrepreneurship and business practices in particular areas. We also had a joint Zemi together teaching students about 3D printing and drones, which attracted many students other than Maki Zemi students to participate. Through these cooperation and contacts, we have not only enriched our experience and broadened our perspectives, but also established our personal networks, which will ensure our interests in the future.

Maki’s Zemi facilitated interactions among Japanese and international students, which connects the best of West and East and gave us the opportunity to learn about issues both in Japan and other various countries. The multicultural connections exposed us to global experiences and sharpen communication skills in a multinational environment. I am sure I benefited a lot by Maki Zemi’s high quality input from every aspects.