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Kazuyo Katsuma

Kazuyo Katsuma

The Executive MBA

— On applying an MBA in the real world —

Kazuyo Katsuma
Visiting Professor of Finance, Chuo Graduate School of Strategic Management Representative Director of Audit & Analysis Corporation

Transforming yourself into a veritable Google

Information is currency, and thus we are surrounded by currency-that is, information-everyday. Wiring an e-mail is the equivalent of printing your own currency-again, in the form of information. If you are able to collect, analyze, and produce information effectively, you can lead a happy life while securing an economic base, irrespective of the changes that occur around you. These are the survival skills of modern society.

The question, then, is exactly how you can transform yourself into a Google-into a human search engine. I have developed a range of my own Katsuma-style skills-such as identifying the 1% essence of things, enhancing input and output capacity, and creating a network of personal connections to increase your own abilities tenfold. In this article, however, I will describe the executive MBA degree-the ultimate investment in yourself-toward transforming yourself into a veritable Google.

An executive MBA benefit: Becoming a walking Google-the ultimate investment in yourself

In the process of investing in yourself by getting an executive MBA, you can develop various skills as an intelligent professional or leader which are scarcely available in routine work. In an executive MBA program, you can accurately acquire advanced knowledge more efficiently than you could through self-study-by reading books and the like-and you can readily build up a network of personal connections, which would be difficult to do on your own.

Among the benefits of an executive MBA, you can acquire three key skills for intellectual professionals and leaders. The first skill is to identify the essence of things through simulated business experience. Specifically, this skill comprises the Framework Capacity for learning many frameworks already validated in business administration through actual examples, Deep Smarts for cultivating business acumen by experiencing many cases, Failure Capacity for recovering from failure in actual business activities based on past experiences with failure-such as unsatisfactory preparation and awkward comments in class-and Best Practices.

An executive MBA program is also effective for improving your input capacity. You are required to study copious texts comprising case studies and academic papers. Through experience in the field with teachers and fellow students as well as by learning advanced theories and actual examples, the executive MBA program provides a learning environment that does not appear in the mass media.

An executive MBA also serves as scaffolding that encourages you to develop output capacity. In addition to the case methods, projects, and papers in an executive MBA program that develop your output capacity, you can confirm your own learning as you teach fellow team members-another form of output.

Four steps to acquiring the method at a practical level

There are four steps to acquire the method at a practical level: Recognition, Understanding, Action, and Application. Step 1, Recognition, involves learning and memorizing rules-a general theory stage. Step 2, Understanding, is a case study stage in which you experience the principles by studying actual examples. By reading books, you can generally only reach Step 1, or at the most, Step 2. This is because most books discuss general principles (Step 1) only, and-as with so many logical thinking books out there-these books can hardly advance you toward the next step, no matter how many you read. Business schools, in contrast, cover Step 3, Action, where you take action to solve problems. Then by applying this experience to your work, you can proceed to Step 4, Application, where you use the principles you learned in practical applications in your own problem solving.

Why an executive MBA is more efficient than self-study in accurately acquiring advanced knowledge

With its established curriculum as well as the commitment required in terms of time and money, an executive MBA program compels you to learn in ways that self-study cannot. Further, since an executive MBA program occupies your time on weekday evenings and on your days off, it forces you to streamline your business. As a result, the structuring that an executive MBA program facilitates is another benefit.

Teamwork is another important element in order to continue studying while working. The community learning of executive MBA programs promotes not only individual learning, but also collaborative learning, through which you can deepen your comprehension by answering questions from others as well as recognize your own strengths and weaknesses.

Of course, you can develop a network of personal connections in an executive MBA program which would be difficult to do on your own. Business school faculties comprise educators from both academia as well as the business world, and only those students with a strong will to invest in business schools join (business schools differ qualitatively on this point from the so-called pan-industry social events). This network of fellow students worked together through adversity toward the same goals is likely to last a lifetime.

Improve your career and your luck-a four-stage sequence beginning with lack of effort

In order to improve your career, it is effective to eliminate the Three Fires referred to in Buddhism. That is, do not envy others, do not get angry, and do not complain. The secret of having good luck is to give, give, and give. It is not enough to give and take-the most effective way is to give, give, give, give, and give (give to the 5th power). When you give others so much, they are likely to return the favor of their own volition. Arbitrage transaction is fundamental in this concept of giving. That is, a person gives others that which is his or her specialty and which does not become a burden to him or herself. In my own case, I am eager to give information analysis and translation. I try to translate not only between different languages but also between different communities.

Lack of effort, on the other hand, is the thing that is most important to avoid.

We must always bear in mind the four-stage sequence, beginning with lack of effort-that is, lack of effort, passing the buck, being a victim, and being a perpetrator. In most cases, we tend to go through this sequence when we reach a dead end. This sequence occurs as, beginning with our own lack of effort, we shift the resulting blame for the damage caused by this lack of effort to others. We then take the role of the victim, and finally offend others out of resentment.

The statements: The future can only be determined by the accumulation of the past, and All that is happening is always right are true indeed.

Kazuyo Katsuma
Visiting Professor of Finance, Chuo Graduate School of Strategic Management Representative Director of Audit & Analysis Corporation
The author was born in Tokyo in 1968 and is now an economic analyst, certified public accountant, and visiting professor of the Chuo Graduate School of Strategic Management. She graduated with an undergraduate degree from the Faculty of Business and Commerce at Keio University and an MBA degree from the Graduate School of Finance, Accounting and Law at Waseda University. When she was 19 years old, she became the youngest assistant certified public accountant at that time and worked at an auditing firm while she was still at university. After working at Arthur Andersen & Co, McKinsey & Company, and J. P. Morgan, she worked independently. Professor Katsuma is a member of the Council of Gender Equality at the Gender Equality Bureau in the Cabinet Office. She was nominated as one of the 50 Women to Watch 2005 by the Wall Street Journal and received the Avon Award to Women (the youngest in history to do so) as well as the first Best Mother Award (in the field of economics).
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