Taka Minowa, MBA ’12, talks about life in Austin, McCombs, and how his daughter Saori is adapting to a new culture. This is the second and last part of a two-part story. Special thanks to Anwesha Chatterjee for reaching out to the Minowa family.
Pre McCombs career and decision to join McCombs
I worked for Mizuho Financial Group, one of the largest Japanese banking groups, for 13 years. In the last seven years, I was working in an investment banking arm of Mizuho Group as a merger and acquisition advisor. At that time, I had much experience as a project manager but didn’t have management experience. Therefore, I wanted to learn general management to be senior management in Mizuho. In addition, I had been involved mainly in domestic deals and so had little international experience. I also wanted to experience different culture overseas and broaden my horizons for my goal. Luckily, I got opportunity of learning MBA outside Japan with financial support by Mizuho.
Though I applied for several MBA schools in U.S., I finally decided to enroll at UT because (1) the size of McCombs is relatively small, which allows me to build close relationships with classmates and know everyone. Network is one of the most precious assets I can obtain through MBA. (2) McCombs focus more on practical problems rather than theories, and so has a lot of field-study type program, like MBA+ Projects and practicum. I wanted to learn through practice with teammates. (3) Austin is a very safe place and has great nature, which are very fit for my family with two young kids. Austin gives us great experience and opportunity to enjoy nature that has a good impact on their growth and that would be difficult to experience in Japan.
Coping with the new life in United States
As we were totally new to living outside Japan, we had to learn almost everything about how to live a daily life because U.S. system is different from Japan in many ways. However, Japanese MBA student network is helpful when we start setting up our life. Especially second year MBA students help us a lot. In addition, as there are nine first year MBA students from Japan that year, we can help each other and share useful information about daily life.
My wife has made friends leveraging several connections. First, as there are many Japanese MBA students that have family. So, she first made friends with other MBA students’ wives, and then her network started expanding through these connections. In addition, we sometimes have home party with Japanese foods and invite many people, including MBA classmates, and so my wife has many opportunities to know MBA students.
She also goes to ESL program provided by Lutheran Church because it provides daycare service for our son during ESL, which is very useful because daycare service is generally pretty expensive. She made a lot of friend from different countries through this program.
On top of that, Austin has several Japanese communities. Through ESL and other friends, she made a lot of friends in other Japanese communities, resulting in her broad range of network mainly due to her personality and good communication skills.