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Going Beyond Boundaries with the Ross Global MBA


By Maho Tokunaga, Global MBA Class of 2017

I started my career in a traditional Japanese corporation, where I spent seven years in the B2B field focusing on the U.S. and European market. So, as a next step in my career, I wanted to deepen my knowledge towards Asia’s business market, and I wanted to be in one of the best MBA programs.

I was thrilled to find that the Michigan Ross Global MBA program was my optimal choice, allowing me to spend one month each in Korea, Japan, and China before finishing my MBA at the Ross campus in Ann Arbor.

Beginning of the Core class with our new GMBA family

My GMBA class was a traveling family. We stayed in the same hotels, ate together, studied together, and enjoyed weekend excursions together. We bonded sharing our business experience across our varied industries. We celebrated classmates’ birthdays, sometimes emulating local traditions in our host country––under the cherry blossoms in Japan, and wearing Chinese clothing in China. Michigan Ross faculty flying in from Ann Arbor to teach us, joined our events as well. The curriculum was rigorous, and the cultural immersion was exciting. Let’s just say we were never bored!

Pushing ourselves further in Ann Arbor

When we arrived in Ann Arbor, we found the excitement only continued. By fully integrating with the Ross and U-M community, we discovered endless opportunities to develop, be inspired, and hone our leadership skills.

I was even able to found a community with members from other top MBA schools, with the goal of helping future Japanese female MBA applicants pursue their career aspirations. My classmates and I are now considering business opportunities to help small and medium businesses by utilizing the data science knowledge we’ve learned in our courses. Overall, we’ve discovered that with the motivation, transformative opportunities are everywhere.

Exploring the “Action Based Learning” and the power of diversity

My team and I at the Leadership Crisis Challenge

Hands-on, real-world learning is a big part of the Michigan Ross program. One recent challenge was the “Leadership Crisis Challenge,” where we worked in teams to address an increasingly complex business crisis over 24 hours.

Even though all of us in the GMBA program have previous corporate leadership experience, this was a challenge like no other. We had to support one another, acting as C-suite executives of a fictitious company, as we faced changing demands and insufficient information.

I believe challenges like this are one of the reasons that Ross is so respected for leadership development. Despite my initial worry about how I would contribute to the group, it turned out that we formed a strong team with a mixture of professional backgrounds and nationalities. The Leadership Crisis Challenge turned out to be a great opportunity for me to re-acknowledge the power of diversity, and for me and my classmates to strengthen our leadership skills together.

The Ross Global MBA has taught me that by actively reaching out, we are always surrounded by support and are able to push ourselves further. I’ve not only discovered a new part of the business world, I’ve discovered new capabilities of my own too.