1. Why did you decide to do an MBA at RSM?
“I’m the successor of a family business, a traditional 120-year-old Japanese hotel. I can learn by doing, but wanted to learn from international and academic perspectives how to manage intercultural employees and the growing tourism when I’m the CEO. RSM also has a sustainability focus. I want to learn how to combine what guests want and what’s good for the environment. And I can’t predict the future of the company and of tourism, but I wanted to prepare to learn how to deal with it.”
2. What transformation in your professional life are you hoping to achieve?
“On organisational level I want the hotel to be more sustainable, combined with more local consumption instead of multinational influences. We’re also part of a bigger circle of tourism bureaus and other organisations in Japan. I want the business knowledge to work effectively in this industry, get more people to come to the hotel and country, and make it more environmentally friendly. One guest can use 500 litres of water per night. That’s a huge footprint for environment. I think if we want to change the world, we have to change businesses. RSM is helping me to become a frontrunner in changing the hospitality sector to be more sustainable.”
3. What has been the most challenging assignment or activity?
“It can be a challenge to work with so many different cultures and people. For example, during the Living Management Project, everything was new territory – from the assignment to group dynamics. In Japan, there is a seniority culture. There’s a clear director. But now everyone was a leader with strong opinions. It’s a new culture to me, bringing some frictions and stress. At the same time it was exactly what I was looking for. I needed to expose myself to something new and learn to deal with this kind of friction. It gave me a lot.”
4. How has the Personal Leadership Development Programme (PLD) affected you?
“It’s a great opportunity to reflect on yourself, and explore your own thoughts, rationales and beliefs behind your decisions. It goes down to the deepest level: my intentions. I learn to listen to myself, and to what I really want to do. PLD keeps reminding me in what direction I want to go, and what decision I want to make. It really helps me, also in dealing with conflicts.”
5. How would you describe the RSM MBA experience?
“RSM is giving me the experience of aligning different cultures and customs in an international environment, while I’m preparing for my goals in the family business and for my own start-up which is also focused on tourism. I’m also learning a lot about determination, which pushes my ability to decision-making. And ultimately there’s coffee. You can face a struggle during a case in class one moment, and then outside of class we’re all friends. We get together and socialise in the café, and feel calm while sipping on a cup of coffee. People accept your opinion and respect it.”
6. What advice would you give to others to make the most of their MBA experience?
“Utilise the wonderful network that you get through RSM. Every encounter here in the Netherlands can lead to a great opportunity. Maximise your student time here – you can send emails to CEOs of big companies for advice after they’ve given a guest lecture. And I met an alumna at the RSM Leadership Summit, and will learn more about the tourism industry through an internship at her company in London next month. So take risks. This is the chance to connect and create your network.”
7. How do you feel about living in Rotterdam/the Netherlands?
“Rotterdam has great accessibility to the rest of Europe. It’s easy and cheap to get trains to London and Paris. My business is in tourism so I can get different perspectives this way. I came to the Netherlands with my wife. I like that Rotterdam is a safe city, and it’s easy to find things to do. She’s on a spouse visa, and found a big Asian community in Rotterdam that unites and there are lots of activities.”
8. After the full-time MBA, what does the future hold?
“Classes are about to finish, so I’ll soon go to the UK to work in a hospitality start-up by an RSM alumna that does vacation rentals. I plan to head back to Japan after that, and take over the hotel and further develop my company.”