INSEAD Participant Interview

Gain a Broader Perspective of Business Fundamentals

Yuka Hirai

Technical Engineer, Nomura Research Institute Ltd.
Yokohama, Japan

"It really takes you outside of your comfort zone and provides you with a much greater perspective of how each functional area fits together. Gaining this perspective helps advance your potential to be a better manager and leader." Yuka Hirai shares her experience of the Management Acceleration Programme.

Can you please introduce yourself and how you heard about INSEAD?

I am an engineer working for Nomura Research Institute, one of the Japanese largest consulting and IT solutions firm. I have several colleagues who have attended the Management Acceleration Programme in the past and so I was aware of the school prior to attending.

What were your expectations before attending the Management Acceleration Programme?

Most employees of Nomura Research Institute start their business career as an engineer and continue to be focused in that area into their mid-30s. As a result, there are few business managers compared to other companies. Just like any other company, we must innovate - introduce new products and services. In order to play a part in this, I felt it was important I broadened my skillset, from the quite technical, to the more business and organisation focused. This is what I hope the Management Acceleration Programme would help me do – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Another aspect of the programme I was looking forward to was the networking. My colleagues spoke about the lasting friendships they made at INSEAD and so I was hoping for the same.

Were these expectations met?

They were yes. Over three weeks the programme covers a lot of contents and I really believe it can help those on the programme understand the business impact of their work. This is because it offers deep insights into all business areas, how each contributes to the bottom line and how they are all connected. This allows people from narrow focused backgrounds to gain a broader perspective of business fundamentals – finance, marketing, strategy, blue ocean strategy, etc... It really takes you outside of your comfort zone and provides you with a much greater perspective of how each functional area fits together. Gaining this perspective helps advance your potential to be a better manager and leader.

Coming from a technical background, I found it very interesting to learn about these various business areas, in particular finance and accounting.  This was an area which I had little overview of before attending INSEAD.

Gaining this overview gave me a lot more confidence with regards to my understanding of how each business area functions.

Ultimately, I have a new found appreciation of how my area contributes to company goals and how I can bring long-term value to my company. It was a steep learning curve, but a good one!

You mentioned the networking a little earlier. Can you please explain how you found this?

It was very good and like my colleagues before me, I made some good friends whilst at INSEAD.

Japanese way of thinking is quite unique and so I found the Management Acceleration Programme excellent in helping broaden my perspective of other cultures and how others cope with business and management.

Can you please explain what you think good leadership is?

Good leadership is about accepting other points of view. You have to be open to all opinions.

How would you describe the Management Acceleration Programme to someone in your company?

The Management Acceleration Programme is the start of a journey that you continue once you have left INSEAD.

It is a very complete programme that gives you both functional and leadership skills and is a programme for people from all business areas. It really is a good opportunity to learn about the mindsets of others. As I mentioned earlier, the Japanese business environment is very unique. Our companies employ mostly Japanese people. As such, we all have a very similar way of thinking. Yet, business crosses borders. It is international and as such, we must work with people from all over the world. To successfully do this, we must learn about others. As Japanese, we must understand the differences between ourselves and others. And so, I really recommend that Japanese people attend the Management Acceleration Programme.

Find out more about the Management Acceleration Programme

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