Our Stories

Investing for the Kids, Not Just Career

For Michael Sumida, young children were factor in returning to school

Michael Sumida
Director, Strategy and Performance at Ankura

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2018

With two young children at home, it wasn’t easy for Michael Sumida to come back to school. But they were ultimately a major factor in his decision to join the Executive MBA program at Vanderbilt.

He and his wife make every major life decision with the best interests of their children in mind. “The choice was easy,” Michael says, “once I realized the opportunities it would eventually create for my kids.” He also knew that going back to school would help the couple in their goal to instill a lifelong love of learning in their children.

And besides, there was a precedent already. “My wife went back for her Masters of Music degree after our son was born,” he explains. “Having gone through that experience made me believe we could make this work, too.”

In Year One, along with giving Michael new knowledge and skills, the program has completely transformed his way of thinking. To illustrate the point, he says, “I often joke that Operations Management, taught by Mümin Kurtulus, ruined me. I can’t walk into a restaurant or drive through a parking garage without thinking about process flows, identifying bottlenecks, and coming up with ways to make the system more efficient. In all seriousness, that class was pivotal for me as it fundamentally changed the way I see and interpret the world around me.”

But at an even deeper level, what Michael has gained so far transcends business expertise. When he and his wife relocated to Tennessee from Hawaii, where Michael had lived his whole life, he says that he “was afraid that I lacked the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to be successful on the mainland. The single most valuable thing I have gained from this program is confidence that I can compete on a higher level.

“Prior to Owen, it felt like I was working with rudimentary hand tools. I could get by, but there were limits to what I was able to build and achieve. This program is like an upgrade to power tools. It has opened a whole new world of possibilities.”

“Prior to Owen, it felt like I was working with rudimentary hand tools. This program is like an upgrade to power tools.”