MBA jobs are the holy grail for graduates of business school. When Urara Kamiya joined IESE Business School in Barcelona in 2015, though, a job at Google wasn’t on her radar.
Two years later and after graduation, she joined the company in Tokyo, as an agency development manager. She moved into a new role less than a year after that, and is now a strategy and operation manager for the APAC region.
Urara credits the MBA at IESE for preparing her for her new career. She says the atmosphere at the school is similar to the atmosphere at Google; a strong cohort of peers who want to make a difference to the world.
From a career in finance to the MBA
Urara began her career in finance, after graduating from an architectural engineering undergraduate degree. Her first role was with Barclays Capital, as an associate in their investment banking division; she then joined the Development Bank of Japan as vice president of their structured finance division.
After eight years of finance she says she wanted to top up her career and decided to pursue an MBA. She wanted exposure outside of Japan, and to take a step back and figure out exactly what it was she wanted to do.
“Back then I had the assumption that I may want to go to the World Bank or an international finance corporation, which required a master’s degree and other language experience as well,” she explains.
“I thought the MBA would make sense for me to pursue a career in that direction.”
IESE Business School stood out to Urara because it offered her the chance to further develop her English language skills and be exposed to Spanish as well.
She was also attracted to the diversity of the cohort, something which would take her out of her comfort zone in Japan and give her experience working with people from an array of cultures and backgrounds.
“As a Japanese woman there are biases that put a lot of conditions on how I should be. My IESE experience was a very good chance for me to step back and think about what I really want to be and how to do that.”
How the MBA changed my career path
IESE led Urara to an MBA job at Google, but that wasn’t before she tried consulting, during an internship with McKinsey & Company.
She says the value of the internship was actually showing her the type of career path she didn’t want. Urara explains that having come from finance, with exceptionally long hours, and sacrificing family, friends, and partner time, it was time for a change.
Interning with McKinsey also opened the door to her working in a strategy position, something which aided her when she joined Google—the name recognition of McKinsey also gave her the stamp of approval, she says, when it came to securing interviews.
When she joined Google, Urara says the experience of the MBA meant she was able to adjust quickly to ambiguity and to learn new topics quickly.
She also had to work with junior sellers and says the IESE MBA helped her become an emotionally mature leader when it comes to coaching other members of a team. She’s also being exposed to role models herself.
“I can find a lot of female leaders here which is a motivation for me as well, something I couldn’t find in the finance industry.”
Urara is now truly settled at Google, and she credits the IESE MBA for preparing her to thrive in the tech industry.
She says after business school she is more aware of the regulation that follows industry disruption by big companies. She’s also able to see how the industry will evolve, which helps her draw up the business plan for Google APAC, the region she serves.
The soft skills she developed on the MBA have equipped her with the skillset to overcome her biggest challenge to date too. That’s senior stakeholder management and getting the directors of vice president to trust her quickly.
“The MBA opened the door to opportunities I could not get otherwise, and I got an understanding of the depth of people, and how to create a society that I really want to belong to.”