In May, a group of students from the International School of Management (ISM) had a remarkable opportunity to visit Tokyo, Japan, to participate in two in-person courses offered by ISM: "Leadership in Crisis Environments" and "Innovation and Change Management." This unique educational experience not only enriched their academic knowledge but also immersed them in the vibrant culture and business landscape of Japan.

I had the pleasure of speaking with ISM PhD student Timilehin Akinola about his transformative experience in Tokyo.


Can you describe your initial thoughts upon arriving in Tokyo for the week-long course? What were you most excited about?

It was my first time in Asia, and I was just happy and had an open mind.

How did the "Leadership in Crisis Environments" course prepare you for handling high-stakes situations in your career? Can you share a specific example or lesson that stood out to you?

The course offered a wealth of valuable knowledge, using real-life examples like the D&G case study to illustrate the importance of sensitivity in advertising. I was shocked to discover that a luxury brand like D&G faced backlash in Japan for their insensitive content. This powerful lesson taught me how to avoid such pitfalls in the future.

What unique insights did you gain from the "Innovation and Change Management in the Asian Business Landscape" course, particularly in the context of Asian business practices?

Japan is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, and the walking tour we took through the bustling markets provided a fascinating glimpse into this vibrant society. From unique small businesses selling one-of-a-kind goods to stalls overflowing with exotic delicacies, the markets were a vibrant tapestry of Japanese culture. I've attached some images of these experiences.

paola blog 9 japan tour 2

How did the in-person experience in Tokyo enhance your learning compared to your regular online courses? Were there any aspects that surprised you?

In-person experiences hold a unique value for me, as they provide the opportunity to meet new people and share in exciting, hands-on adventures. Our walking tour would not have been possible in an online environment, and this face-to-face interaction was a crucial component of the course.

Can you tell us about any memorable interactions or experiences you had with the professors during the courses? How did their expertise and teaching styles impact your learning?

Our professor was exceptional in her ability to respond to a wide range of questions from students with diverse backgrounds. Her knowledge and expertise in the subject matter and experience in Japan were invaluable.

What was it like working with your fellow students in a face-to-face setting, especially those you had only interacted with online before? Did this change the group dynamics or the way you approached teamwork?

The class was made up of adults from different backgrounds with individual respect and respect for other classmates. The face-to-face class allowed us to get to know one another on a personal level, fostering mutual respect and a desire to learn from each other.

paola blog 9 japan tour 1

What were some of the most challenging aspects of the courses, and how did you overcome them? Did the location and setting play a role in these challenges?

Japan is calm and organized. The train station is in good condition. The only challenge I had was the time difference and how packed the coursework was. We had a lot to learn in a short period. But the lecturer had a way of getting it done, and we are thankful.

Can you share a highlight or a particularly impactful moment from the trip that encapsulates the value of this in-person experience for you?

The tour into the business areas was particularly impactful. 

paola blog 9 japan tour 3

How do you think this experience in Tokyo will influence your future career and academic pursuits? Would you recommend this type of course to other students considering a hybrid or online MBA program?

The Tokyo course provided me with valuable insights into the intricacies of Japanese business culture and practices. I gained a deeper understanding of how Japanese companies navigate challenges and manage crises, which has broadened my perspective on crisis management in my own Nigerian business. The exposure to diverse business philosophies and strategies in Tokyo has ignited a wealth of new opportunities and possibilities for me to explore.

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