Pursuing ‘the best of two worlds‘
Shim Hyun-seok, 35, graduated from Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy in August, 2011. He had worked at an accounting firm and a law firm as an accountant for two years after graduating from Seoul National University in 2000. He is now working for the strategy and financial planning department at Nikko Asset Management as a senior financial analyst.
Why did you start the MBA course?
I encountered many opportunities to be involved in consulting, advising on mergers and acquisitions, and auditing while working as an accountant. I was satisfied with my career, but wanted to challenge the area of investment banking. I took the course as the start of the challenge. I would like to thank my wife for being supportive.
Why did you choose the school?
I narrowed down the schools I wanted to study at according to my own standards. As an Asian, I wanted to take a course in Asia to take an advantage in finding a job in the region. I also looked for a school located in a financial hub. During my undergraduate years, I actively participated in the Korea Japan Student Convention (KJSC), which made me to choose the school.
Why is the school so special?
The school pursues “the best of two worlds.” For example, the course harmonizes oriental characters with Western elements. The school obviously took the model from western MBA programs as the curriculum covers Western corporate cases, but we analyze them from Asian perspectives.
What is your favorite thing about the school?
The school has many communication channels. The ratio of professors to students is one to three. It means that the school has many professors who can talk to their students. There is also a policy called the “Open Door Policy” which allows students to visit their professors anytime without making appointments. Furthermore, there are ample opportunities to interact with fellow students because there are only 50 students in each class.
What did you make out of the MBA course?
I acquired both confidence and broadened my perspective from the program. Since I had never lived abroad before, I couldn’t fully convey my thoughts in English at the beginning. However, I could participate in discussions as time went by and I gained confidence. I could also broaden perspectives through those discussions. These skills I acquired from the school helped me when searching for a job in Japan.
Was there anything that was beyond your expectations?
Students participating in discussions were very enthusiastic and competitive. It was even difficult to seize an opportunity to speak in classes of core subjects.
In addition, the school had a great reputation. The school is relatively small since it has only 4 majors, but this national university is considered the best in Japan.
What is your long term goal?
I want to be an expert in Asian financial markets. I think it is very interesting that Asian markets share common characteristics but are somewhat different from each other. Those characteristics are worth learning since the markets are expanding and Western financial companies are increasingly entering into them. Nikko Asset Management, which I work for, is also expanding in Asia. It is headquartered in Japan and has branches in Australia, China, Singapore and Hong Kong. It is also actively looking for ways to enter the Korean, Taiwan and Indonesia markets.
How did the course help achieve that goal?
I met many guest speakers from various fields because classes are connected with hands-on experience programs. I could achieve my goal through this experience. Prof. Sherman Abe’s class was especially helpful because I could listen to his outstanding experience in investment banks and those of other guest speakers.
Interview by Kwon Eun-young