Our Stories

Building a Global Network for the Future

To advance in a global economy, Yasuyo Mikami immerses herself in a different culture

Yasuyo Mikami
Assistant Manager, Aflac Japan

Vanderbilt MBA 2016

Coming to America for an MBA was a natural choice for Yasuyo Mikami. After all, she had majored in American Studies as an undergraduate in Japan, and during that time had spent two semesters at Utah State University.

After graduation, Yasuyo worked eight years, at various positions in the sales department, for Aflac Japan, that country’s leading provider of life and medical insurance. She wanted to gain the broader knowledge that would enable her to increase her opportunities within the company.

“With a career in sales,” she says, “I felt a lack of business knowledge. I thought that learning in a different culture and building a network with students from all over the world would be necessary to succeed amid globalization.”

With Aflac’s sponsorship, Yasuyo came to Vanderbilt. She was attracted initially by the school’s strong network of Japanese alumni. Once she got better acquainted with Owen, she was attracted even more by the collaborative culture that extended beyond the classroom. Students and faculty, she says, helped her with everything from improving her English to finding an apartment and getting a driver’s license. “Also, says Yasuyo, “I love Owen’s ‘bridge buddy’ system, which connects every international student with an American student. My bridge buddy helped me adjust to life in the U.S., and we are still very good friends.”

Meanwhile, Yasuyo liked being able to offer something in return. She served as president of the student-run Japan Business Club and to help American students get a flavor of Japanese culture. One of the best things about Owen, she says, is that “everyone has a chance to contribute to the community.”

Fun Fact: A huge fan of figure skating, Yasuyo attended the World Championship of Figure Skating in Boston and had her picture taken with Olympic gold medalist Charlie White.

“What advice would I offer a prospective student from Japan?OwenはSmall Schoolとして知られていますが、入学してその協調的な文化を再認識することが出来ました。教授や教員、そして学生間の距離も非常に近く、留学生である私達も抵抗なく新しい文化に溶け込むことが出来ます。また、少人数の授業が多いため、留学生でも発言の機会が十分にありますし、その意見を他の学生もとても尊重してくれるということも2年間の生活を通じて印象に残っています。また、クラブ活動もとても盛んで、私達日本人もJapan Business Clubとして多くの行事に参加してきました。特に、2年連続Japan Weekという日本のプレゼンツ向上を目指した行事を実施出来たのも、新しいチャレンジはいつでも歓迎するOwenの文化があってこそのことと思います。皆さんもOwenではぜひいろいろなことにチャンレンジして下さい。学校はいつでもサポートしてくれます!”