Vidya India

February ~20, 2017

One of the visits I probably would never forget is the visit to Bangalore’s Vidya. It’s a chance to see how young women in India struggle, what motivates them and how hard they work.

They struggle with the cultural imposition to women. Their hands are tied. But one thing drives them – their families. Their kids. For example, learning English is a priority because they wanted to talk to their kids in English. Most Indians DO NOT speak English. The people we meet are not at the bottom of the pyramid, and with 1.2billion people, there’s a lot of them. But far more numerous are the ones who struggle on a daily basis.

Vidya is about helping these young women help themselves. And I can’t think of a better way to do it.

Akshaya Patra

February ~20, 2017

One of the “company” visits we had was to Akshaya Patra, which is a food kitchen. Only this food kitchen feeds millions of people, is ISO certified and follows kaizen (continuous improvement).

They are a good example of how a not-for-profit organization (they operate from donations and government subsidies) can apply business concepts and succeed!

The entrance. We had to wear hair net and face mask for our visit, which is pretty standard.
This is a sample meal – the one they fed us come in containers similar to the ones I saw being loaded for delivery.
Right outside. 😦 I doubt that it is their trash, it’s just sad how people throw trash wherever.

Global Network Week (GNW)

March 2017

As we are part of a 29 strong organization of business schools around the world, we have the opportunity of going to these participating partner schools for a week long exchange, with each school offering a course that showcases their competencies. This is done twice a year – in March and around October.

Since I’m in the field of Finance and Accounting, I chose the Behavioral Finance course offered by Yale University. (Tokyo offers an Innovation related course)

It’s a one credit course, and you pay for everything – fare, accommodations, etc. Partner schools help with the visa processing by providing an invitation letter. It was a really smooth process, and I didn’t have to prove anything at the embassy – all I said was, “I’m going for an exchange, here’s the letter”. They do the same in other schools, from what I hear.

The fun part is that you will unlikely meet students from their schools. Why? Because the students also left their schools to visit partner schools!!!

It’s all about global education, guys. And no school can do that alone.

Global Network Project

As part of our MBA curriculum, we had the opportunity to partner with one of the GNAM member schools (GNAM is Global Network for Advanced Management) for a project, which is credited as an elective in our education. Our partner was University of British Columbia (UBC) Sauder Business School. The program is for two weeks, though we also had virtual meetings starting around October.

For the Tokyo students, we had the option of going to Bangalore, India OR stay in Tokyo for the two week program. Of course, I chose India.

It starts with a lot of online meeting in anticipation for the two week immersion.

October – December.

Group assignments. We start meeting each other for the first time online. We also attend some workshops on handling virtual meetings, etc.

Projects. There are a couple of projects lined up, thanks to the amazing professors. We get to share our preference and projects will be assigned.

Client Meeting. We act as consultants and officially meet our “clients” via online conference. Since our project is in India, of course our clients are generally Indians. We had to set the scope of the project, deliverables, timeline, etc.


Last minute preparation. Continuous team meetings, client touchpoints, visa application, etc.


Fieldwork! We went to Bangalore for the project, and stayed there for two weeks. Of course, the entire thing culminated with a client presentation at the end of those two weeks.


Postmortem. Basically we shared what we learned with the rest of the class, and had reflections on what happened.



Overall it was an amazing experience, and was easily the highlight of my MBA… up to that point. Who’d have thought that the school had more in store?



MBA Lessons: Roots of Kawaii

January 27, 2017

I’m learning quite a lot in this MBA. For example, did you know that the concept of Kawaii can actually be traced back to hundred of years ago? This was unfortunately paused during the World War when the focus was more on the serious side of things. Then after the war, they went back with a vengeance.

They also did a contrast of Kawaii and Moe. My understanding is that Moe is the sexy Kawaii. Yes, this is really serious stuff. Honestly. We even peeked at the… financials (gasp!) of Hello Kitty. Did you know that bulk of the income is from outside Japan and mainly through licensing?

P.S. This is an elective course on Japanese Culture. Because grad school is not all about cases and papers and deadlines! (Only about 98%)