Friday, January 30, 2015 at 3pm

HBS in Search of Japanese MBAs and Other MBA News Snippets

Harvard Business School wants higher numbers of MBAs from Japan

Harvard Business School’s concerns over Japan

If you’re a Japanese applicant looking to study in the US, there may never have been a better time to consider making a play for Harvard Business School (HBS).

It seems MBA students from Japan are in high demand at the school after the school’s dean, Nitin Nohria, revealed his concern for the paucity of students Harvard Business School now receives from what is still the world’s third largest economy:

“We used to see 30 to 40 Japanese students out of 900 MBA students every year, now it is down to four or five. Japan is the only part of Asia that’s in retreat,” Nitin Nohria told the Wall Street Journal adding that, “it’s important for us to find a way to reach out.”

Accordingly, Harvard Business School has set aside four days for interviews in Tokyo in its second admissions round – more than the days allotted for Mumbai, Shanghai and Paris. A recruitment drive is underway it seems, with a report in Fortune suggesting that their target is to bring in a number that would be the highest seen from Japan in the best part of a decade.

The same report suggests the drop-off in applications from Japan could be the result of increased competition from business schools in the rest of world, citing GMAC figures which show that despite GMAT test taking numbers remaining fairly steady in recent years, less scores are being sent to the US, with destinations in Europe, as well as within Asia-Pacific, also appealing to applicants. 

But, the problem may be deeper than that – something that Nitin Nohria himself alluded to in his interview with the Wall Street journal, when he spoke of Japan becoming “more insular.”

An ageing population, coupled with the continuing economic difficulties and the deep-rooted effects of the Fukushima incident on Japan’s national psyche, could all be contributing to a more insular approach among its younger generation. Last year, an exhibition in New York that collated Japanese artists’ responses to Fukushima featured a work that drew parallels between the tragedy and 9/11. Perhaps this is why a school with the resources of HBS feels that an increased effort in the Japanese market is worthwhile – that is, if it wants to win some of Japan’s future business leaders back to the table.     

CEIBS’s business plan competition using WeChat technology

An annual business plan competition held by CEIBS (China Europe International Business School) has this year received more than 100 submissions.

CEIBS took INNOVATEChina 2015, which is partnered with instant messaging service WeChat, on a US roadshow this month, stopping off at both Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB along the way, and must now be hopeful of a strong level of competition. CEIBS says it has received applications from MBAs – both past and present – from some of the leading business schools in the US and Europe, who will compete against domestic opposition from China and Hong Kong.

This year’s business plan competition asked entrants to come up with new ideas for daily communication that a) incorporates WeChat’s technology and b) has the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. One previous innovation from WeChat, a company that has courted controversy since its foundation in 2011, involved volunteers leaving voice messages that could be put together as audiobooks for the visually impaired.

Six teams will now be chosen to compete in the business plan competition’s final, to be held at CEIBS’s Shanghai campus in March.

In other news….

A USC Marshall professor who has been running trips that take MBA students to Cuba since 1998, has been speaking about where the country’s future lies – in light of the recent moves to normalize relations between the island nation and the US:

“I can get the next generation of business leaders to understand what happened to Cuba and what is happening now. But Cuba has to find Cuban solutions to Cuban problems. It’s not about us bringing US solutions to Cuba. That is not the answer,” said Carl Voigt - a clinical management and organization professor at USC Marshall.


Stanford GSB is taking its innovation program, known as Stanford Ignite, to Brazil and the city of São Paulo.  The first course will run between August and October 2015 and is to be hosted by Microsoft-Brazil. You can read more about the Ignite program and its recent foray into London, here


EMLYON Business School has announced that it will work with IBM to develop what it terms a ‘Smart Business School’ learning environment.

The technology will see the IBM Cloud used as a platform for accessing online business education, with the idea that it can supply material catered for personalized development and training – as well as to adapt to an individual’s changing career needs.

“In a similar way that users today can cherry-pick their entertainment, our community will be able to choose when, where and how much it learns,” said EMLYON Business School’s dean, Bernard Belletante, in a press release.

The ‘Smart Business School’ model is expected to go live by the second quarter of 2015.

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).