Our Stories

Becoming a ‘Real Manager’

Yoshikawa finds big investment to be a smart move

Motohiro "Moto" Yoshikawa
Senior Manager, Information Systems, Nissan North America

Vanderbilt Global Executive MBA 2020

Moto Yoshikawa says he wanted to be “a real manager.” In Japan, he was promoted to a managerial position in 2016. He handled international assignments for Nissan across Asia, from India to Thailand and Singapore. But he didn’t feel adequately equipped for the job. “At the time,” he says, “I didn’t have any knowledge of how to read financial statements, even if I had a lot of chances to talk with executives.”

Moto pursued executive education in Japan, in the form of a program that leads to certification as a “registered management consultant.” The program, he explains, is relatively inexpensive—approximately $5,000—and requires one-and-a-half years of study before passing an exam.

But in 2017, before he could finish his studies, Moto was transferred to Nissan North America’s headquarters near Nashville. After looking at executive education options in the United States, he chose Vanderbilt. Many alumni work at Nissan North America and the school, he notes, has the best reputation in the area.

“It’s a huge investment,” says Moto—he and his wife are footing the cost—“but it’s the smartest judgment.” With many more years in his working career, they calculated that “it’s easy to get the return.”

Moto did not find it easy, however, to adjust to a new country and the challenge of the program, especially since English is not his first language. During the New Harmony residency, he says, “the professors and classmates spoke very fast, and there was lots of new vocabulary that was not familiar to me.” On top of that, the couple’s first child was born the week before New Harmony, and they were in a foreign country without the support of family.

Moto thought about quitting the program, but with encouragement from the EMBA team, he persevered. In mid-2019, he was transferred back to Japan. For the four international immersion experiences that replace the Saturday classroom work in year two, he’ll travel 14 hours across the Pacific. But he’s ready. “There were a lot of ‘Aha!’ moments,” he says, looking back on his first year. “And now I have more confidence.”

There were a lot of ‘Aha!’ moments. And now I have more confidence.