Former Tokyo Manager Searches For Impact With MBA In UK

Japanese education sector manager Ippo Kondo is profiting from a diverse MBA cohort at Lancaster in the UK.

Ippo Kondo aspires to have the greatest impact on the company he works for, by leading organizations’ sales and marketing strategies.

He has certainly made an impact so far. The Lancaster University Management School student spent two years managing a school in Tokyo for Nagase Brothers, the leading, public Japanese educational services provider — in which he converted a £1.7 million budget deficit into a surplus over two years. Before that, he was a Nagase Brothers sales representative.

The law graduate enrolled in the UK-based Lancaster MBA last year. He says the most valuable aspect of the program so far has been learning from a diverse cohort — 92% of the LUMS MBA class are considered international, according to FT rankings data.

Why did you decide to begin an MBA degree?

In my previous work as a general manager I had great achievements in sales in the Japanese education sector. However, I assumed that the achievements resulted not from my ability, but from the brand reputation of my company.

So, in order to be competitive as an independent business person, I decided to study the Lancaster MBA, with the strategic management module. In particular, I wanted to learn about the objective criteria of decision-making, and gain a deeper understanding of the whole business process.  

What made your business school stand out from the rest?

The Lancaster MBA program provides a lot of opportunities to put useful theories and frameworks into action. For example, in the Consultancy Challenge module, we worked with a UK company as consultants, delivering recommendations with implementation plans. It was a truly excellent opportunity to utilize what we had learned from our lectures.

In addition, we planned to start new businesses in the New Venture Challenge module. In the summer, we are also going to work with a company in London. I cannot wait!

How would you describe the culture at your business school?

Practical learning is one of the attractive features of the Lancaster MBA. We have a number of opportunities to work as a team and with people from different backgrounds — learning how to be good business leaders.

Which aspect of the MBA has been the most valuable?

I believe working with a variety of people from different backgrounds — industries and countries — is most valuable.

At first, I was really surprised at the culture difference of my classmates. However, as our MBA has only 36 students, allowing us to interact intensively with each other, I have learnt from the different perspectives of my colleagues. Work experience and culture affect your ways of thinking so much. The MBA taught me how to think from different angles.

What advice would you give to people who are about to apply to business school?

Future applicants should consider their future careers. Business school will give you a lot of things. But I think re-considering what you want to be, and whether it is right time to apply to business school, would be helpful to maximize learning.  

What was your greatest challenge at Nagase Brothers Inc?

The profitability of the school I managed. When I arrived, the school had a huge deficit, and employee motivation and customer satisfaction were quite low. It was an extremely difficult situation. However I did not give up. I analysed and identified key issues, and changed the organization. In particular, I focused on repositioning its marketing focus and motivating employees with a shared vision.

As a result, I succeeded in converting the deficit to a surplus in two years.   

What are your future career plans?

In the short-term, I would like to form sales and marketing strategies. Through my work experience and the Lancaster MBA program, I realized I prefer and am good at creating solutions to overcome severe problems. I want to help organizations by utilising my strategic thinking abilities.

In the long-term, I want to go back to a general management role, dealing with all aspects of an organization. I would like to be the person who contributes the most to the organization I belong to.

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