CANHAI Wang / Waseda Business School
Two years ago, I wasn’t sure if I lived like a majority of graduated students before my decision of further study: felt ambiguous right after graduation but didn’t know where to start and hence spent days and days doing nothing. Although I always wanted to be out of the common run, the fact was that I was nothing without any outstanding achievement which I couldn’t even think of from my previous experience. By many talks with my father about my future, I finally aligned with him that I should and I would have my own business in the future instead of inheriting his trading business. After that, I spent a year trying to explore, and luckily, I finally realized my lack of experience and knowledge to support my future entrepreneurship. This realization led to the next stage of my life: my decision of further study for pursuing an MBA degree.
To be noticed, I was the only one in my family that hadn’t been traveled to Japan (what a shame). The reason was that I somehow expected my first trip to Japan to be the most impressive experience in my life. I enjoyed Japanese food like local snakes, Sashimi, Omakase. I also loved reading Japanese animation which I thought was much better than other animation since Japanese animation always came with its own vivid world setup and with deep philosophy significance. Besides, the fly trip from China to Japan only took around three hours, while it took at least 12 hours to travel from China to the United States. Being near from home country made me more secure. With all the things I loved and the pity that I hadn’t been there, Japan become one of the most attractive countries for me, and, fortunately, I happened to have a chance to live in this country for more than a year to deeply experience its culture.
Why Japanese Business School?
While there was no much struggle on country selection, I actually spent some time thinking about what degree to pursue. In fact, I used to enjoy study until my university study field in Economics in the United States. Throwback to the efforts I made to quizzes and exams, I felt pursuing a degree was merely because it would benefit to my resume as I found myself almost learned nothing afterward. I couldn’t apply the knowledge in my real-world experience, although I knew the knowledge was not useless, but failure to apply the knowledge to my experience made it less significant to me. Moreover, huge lecture sizes of courses in my university provided me with less opportunities to share my opinions, and I was too shy to speak in front of tens of people. That experience made me realize that small size classes fitted me better. In this sense, an MBA degree from Japanese business schools that taught fundamental business knowledge with case studies instead of quizzes and exams would be an ideal choice for me: the Japanese English-taught MBA program only recruited few people each semester, meaning that classes size would be relatively smaller and students would have more opportunities to get in touch with professors; Case studies helped students apply knowledge to real-world experience without too many quizzes and exams, which required students to utilize discussions which in turn deepened their understanding of the knowledge.
One more reason for choosing Japanese business school was about Japanese culture. China, as one of the rapid developing countries, had grown fiercely these years. More and more funding and infrastructure became available to people so that they were provided with much more suitable environment for entrepreneurship. However, at the stage of rapid developing, inevitably bubble was produced, people became obsessed with rapid development no matter the development was healthy or not, and some companies managed to raise funding as much as possible in the name of innovation even though their business models didn’t make sense or the innovation made no sense. Peer-to-peer Finance and long-term rental apartment (ex. Danke Apartment) were bad examples happened in China. These phenomena would lead to less emergence of outstanding startups that could benefit the whole society and possibility of bubble busting that could hurt the society badly. In contrast, Japan was a developed country that had survived from several times of financial crisis. The financial crisis that this country encountered had made itself mature in its culture. People living in this country got influenced by the culture so that people’s norm and value became mature as well. These days we could see plentiful of outstanding startups in Japan were created to benefit the society, and undoubtfully these startups finally gained robust development and considerable return. As I planned to start my own business in the future, this culture had made it charming to me. I always looked forward to learning this culture, hopefully in Japanese business school.
Introduction to Our Zemi
Up to dates, I have been joined in Maki’s Zemi for a year. To clarify, “zemi” is a term used in Japan that means seminar. It’s is a special part of Japanese business school that holds arounds ten students to work with professors with particular research areas. The zemi session provides with the chances not only to closely get in touch with the professors but also to deeply study the certain research areas. For my goal of entrepreneurship, I choose to join Maki san’s Zemi that offers further study in the area of entrepreneurship. Maki Sensei is a young and promising professor who makes efforts to create an effective learning community where students are able to study further on the topic of entrepreneurship with positive peer effects. Each of the zemi session is well organized to make sure we, as participants, are fully engaged and benefited from it.
Recently, we’ve been given selected reading materials about experimentation at the beginning stage of entrepreneurship. We are divided by groups and required to make presentations along with discussion in groups regarding each of the materials given. The purpose of this is to deepen the understanding of the given materials by every group’s effort to summary the materials and talk about the emphasis of the materials. Besides, discussion is facilitated right after the presentations so that we are able to exchange opinions from our different perspectives. This whole activity promotes our interpreting ability, organizing ability and further thinking on entrepreneurship. And from the recent topics we learn about how to test business ideas as well as the hypotheses-driven approach that help reduce uncertainty during entrepreneur. Other than giving presentations on materials, sometimes we are given chances to give presentations on topics that individuals are interested in. Each of us is given around 20 minutes to organize the activity including presentations and discussions. In this way, we are enabled to share our interested topics and again exchange opinions from each other. Students are benefited from this as this activity provides us with more approach to learn recently popular concepts or technology that we haven’t heard about before. Discussions held after the presentations also enable us to explore more on the given topics. One recent topic that quite impresses me is presented from Kevin, one of the fellows in my zemi session, who shares his working experience in Morgan Stanly about investing strategies on software companies. He summaries his golden standard regarding how to distinguish good software companies based on some financial indicators. This topic impresses me since I know the importance of this investing strategies from my previous internship in private equity. I’m pretty sure that his sharing of this topic will be helpful for my investment skills in the future.
Although it only happens like twice a semester, sometimes guest speakers are invited to our zemi session to share their professional insights in the industries they devote to. An interesting example is from Professor Miki who invents salty chips that help users reduce daily salt consumption for the sake of health. Nevertheless, other than academic activities, sometimes we also hold some interesting activities. One example is Everest V3 stimulation that stimulates an expedition to Everest in groups. This activity improves our ability of leadership. Another example is clay workshop in which we learn about Japanese culture on clay and make our own clay. This also improves our ability of creativity.
Outlook of Future
People can never predict the future, but they can decide what to do at present. As I plan to have my own startup in the future, the way to my success is full of danger and uncertainty. I’ll never know what exactly these obstacles are, but I’m definitely working on self-improvement to be capable to deal with these potential obstacles at this stage.