From Monk to MBA: A Japanese student in India

I sometimes liken leading MBA schools to gran cru Bordeaux, classification of 1855, requested by none other than Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. Nineteen wines made up the coveted 1st and 2nd great growths, including the inimitable Chateau Latour.

Like the finest wines, top MBA schools are to the taste of the beholder. Sure brand name means a lot; after all, the brand is built on something distinguished, but what pleases the taste buds of one imbiber may not reach the same scale to another.

Simply stated, the most important criterion is to choose the MBA school that best meets your needs and satisfies your interests. For some that may be Wharton or Columbia, for others Tuck or Stanford, for still others INSEAD or Cambridge. It’s a long list.

Many people—perhaps most people— just follow the brand trail, moving as high up the ranking list as they can qualify. Which begs an immediate question: whose ranking list is it? They all vary, they all have biases.

I would like to introduce you to Keisuke Matsumoto, a Japanese next-generation leader who did not blindly decide on where he would pursue his MBA studies, slavish to a ranking list.

Please refer to this URL:

The Indian School of Business
Indian School of Business

A Buddhist monk, Matsumoto-san took a break from Komiyogi Temple in central Tokyo to study at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad. With an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Tokyo University, a high GPA and competitive GMAT, he could have gone to any MBA program, Stanford, Harvard, you name it. He chose ISB, the only Japanese ever to study there, because ISB met his career needs and international cultural interests.

Matsumoto-san’s life aim is to reconnect Buddhist spirituality to the ordinary person living and struggling today. You will enjoy reading about his initiative to arrange a music concert and open a café in the temple to attract working people in Tokyo. You will admire his personal leadership just as I do, and his guts to think for himself and decide for his well-being.

To mix two metaphors, Matsuomoto both “thought out of the box” and “got out of his comfort zone.”

And so can you.

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

©2010 Warren J. Devalier