This is a question which many prospectives students ask themselves when applying to business school. Masahiro Kikukawa, Japanese, decided for himself that at 39 it is the right time to start this challenge. Masahiro graduated from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in 1992. During his studies, he worked in the Embassy of Japan in Peru for two years. After graduation, Masahiro joined Industrial Bank of Japan (current Mizuho Financial Group), mainly devoted to M&A advisory business. Please read his opinion:

What are your motivations for studying an MBA at 40?

Masahiro Kirukawa at IE LibraryTo study for an MBA at 40 means that we can study with reference to our own extensive experience. In my case I have 17 years experience in real business world. 2 years working for the government and 15 years for a bank. Throughout these experiences, I have learnt and used Financial Accounting, Enterprise Value, Statistics, Marketing, Human Resource Management etc. Now that I have returned to study I can learn the intrinsic meanings of each of these tools and activities. I think, the academic back ground for these thoughts and tools such as Enterprise Value, Statistics, Marketing will provide me with a wider point of view for business, because there is a big difference between the real business and academic points of view.

I think it is difficult for younger people who don’t already have the experience to learn the intrinsic possibilities of each tool and set of thoughts that are taught in classes, but I can enhance my learning opportunities by referring back to my own experiences. I also hope to be able to provide my classmates with interesting real world examples and ideas that I have gained from my experiences.

After the MBA course, I am looking to use these tools for business in a more rounded manner, considering the greater possibilities that have been laid out by studying the academic backbone.

What are your objectives?
I have 3 concrete objectives.
– First, as I explained the above, I would like to learn the academic backbone for the thought processes and tools that we use in the real business world.
– Secondly, I would like to meet a lot of people who have different values and experiences. People over 35-40, including myself, must manage and educate the junior staff. We cannot remain an individual player in order to manage big business. Team work is vitally important. I am looking forward to meeting a lot of new and diverse people, working with them in the teamwork environment promoted by the MBA. That will give me very precious experience.
– Thirdly, I would like to have time for myself. In Japan, the workload is horrible…. Using this opportunity, I would like to
consider my way of life again.

And I would like to have time with my family in Spain where people enjoy their lives.

What do you think are pros and cons of studying an MBA at 40?
1. People at 40 can study the MBA with extensive reference to their own experience.
2. People at 40 have an opportunity to make greater use of the MBA’s know-how very soon (because they have to work as a manager after graduation.)
3. This kind of opportunity is very good for their refreshment of mind and spirit. (People about 40 may have 20 years experience. If we can work until 60, the rest is 20 years. At this turning-point, it is important to consider the business and the life.)

1. It is almost impossible to change the industry where they work. (Maybe it is easy for young people to change the
industry using this opportunity)
2. To stay away from the real business means that they are required to make a much greater effort when they go back to the business world. (because the business environment is changing very quickly these days.)
3. It may be difficult to find the next job. (Some Japanese companies are very conservative when it comes to hiring people of this age)

One thought on “Am I too old for an MBA?

  1. Nic Hawkins

    I totally agree. Though not as ancient as 40, I was in my mid-thirties and as such considerably older than most of the class.

    An MBA can be a major plus in making that difficult leap from middle to senior management – a leap that requires more general business knowledge and less technical, industry or product related experience. Sometimes an intermediate step into consulting or finance can help here as well, doors which are far more open post MBA.

    Point 3 on the pros shouldn’t be underestimated. The joy of using my brain after too long in a stagnating career was a surprise. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing until you get it back. Then there’s the added energy and enthusiasm received from new positions, new industries, new roles – applying what you’ve invested so much effort in learning. The whole experience is a boost to your quality of life.

    I would disagree a little or qualify the cons with my own experience. I admit I stayed in the oil industry, but entered a totally different sphere – from service provision pre-MBA to management consulting to software. After two years I’m now heavily involved in entering new industries. Sometimes a little patience can get you a long way.

    Before entering IE my main concern was the ability to find work afterwards at my age. I would urge any propective student to go in with eyes open, but not be too scared – there are a lot of great jobsout there, and the road to them is life changing.

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