Carissa Caparas blogs about her experience on a NUS MBA study trip to Japan.
When I applied for a slot in the Japan Study Trip 2012, I wrote a list of my top ten reasons for going on the trip. Now, some weeks after the group has gotten back to our usual grind of classes and internships, I look back to how the trip had seen to most of the items in that list. (Of course, I couldn’t get that chance encounter with Takuya Kimura. And if you are not getting what I’m talking about—no worries—Jdrama fans are in the minority in the b-school population.)
Before the week-long company visits started, we had a chance to explore Tokyo and its surrounding areas. Haruko was a gracious and patient host to the excited ‘tourists’—bringing the gang to places like the temple in Asakusa (fortune-telling and good luck charms, anyone?), and the cosplay streets of Akihabara. Atsushi also led a group to see THE Mount Fuji—really long hours spent on the road, but well worth it I heard. Hwei Shan and I found this trick art museum in Odaiba and had a blast taking photos. It was also in Odaiba where I saw this awesome night view of the Rainbow Bridge and the mini-Statue of Liberty, with the Tokyo Tower in the background. We then took the shinkansen or bullet train towards Kyoto early Sunday morning. It was cultural extravaganza as we took in the sights in the Imperial Capital of Japan, from the bamboo groves of Arashiyama, to Kiyomizu-dera overlooking the city, to the Kinka-kuji (Golden Temple) and to the streets of Gion (hoping to catch a glimpse of a geisha—which very few of us did).
The weekend was over before we knew it, and we transformed into no-nonsense MBAs eager to learn about the companies we’re visiting, their operations and business practices, the challenges and opportunities they are facing. Of those that we visited, I enjoyed attending the most, the sessions for GE Healthcare, DeNA, and even though I’m no finance person, I learned new stuff at the Mizuho visit. At GE’s headquarters, we talked about regulatory issues, dealing with government bodies and other stakeholders in their business space. DeNA was quite interesting to me—insights into their ever-popular “moba-ge” (mobile gaming) business segment, how the company has grown and how it can continue to grow amidst new trends and competition. Mizuho gave a comprehensive presentation of their international business and their strategic focus on Asia. We also went to visit Seibu Group’s railway arm in Saitama and talked about how in this industry, price is set by the government, prompting their strategy towards other revenue-generating businesses and positioning train stations not just as transit points but as places to gather.
Of course, what’s an MBA study trip without networking? We went to one of NUS’ partner schools, Keio University. Two of the professors in Keio Business School talked about HR-related topics and the work environment in Japan. We also met KBS students, fellow MBAs who were enthusiastic about learning about our own b-school life in NUS. We also had a networking dinner with the Japanese alumni. We enthusiastically shared about the latest news in the business school, what activities the students have been up to recently, and they gamely shared their own fond memories of their time as NUS MBA students (never mind that it revealed their age!)
The entire week flew by, time well spent—and for this, we extend sincere thanks to all the organizers—Haruko, Atsushi, Hiroshi and Aaron. Not only was it a cultural, networking and company visit trip, it also provided a chance to spend time and bond with classmates beyond the usual interaction we have in the classroom or in club activities. It definitely created lasting memories. An awesome addition to an already great NUS MBA experience.
Carissa Caparas (Filipino)
Full-Time Student, Class of 2013