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Choosing an MBA program — halfway across the globe

September 2007

How does an up-and-coming executive choose an MBA program halfway around the world? It wasn’t difficult for Akifumi Hayashi, MBA ’99.

Upon receiving his bachelor’s in economics in 1994 from Seikei University in Japan, Hayashi went to work for a monetary brokerage firm. After several years, he knew he wanted to pursue an MBA, so he began evaluating his options.

“Given my career goals, I was looking for a school with a strong finance and accounting program,” he says. Affordability was another consideration for Hayashi as he wasn’t being sponsored by a company. In addition he sought a school that would focus on his potential. “It turned out that the UB School of Management was a perfect match for all of my needs.”

After completing the MBA program in 1999, Hayashi worked as a proprietary trader of derivatives securities for a year and then joined AllianceBernstein (formerly Alliance Capital Asset Management) in Tokyo. As a research analyst, he conducted fundamental research of companies and industries in natural resources-related sectors for investment recommendations. He was promoted to vice president in 2004 and senior vice president in 2007.

Now, with eight years of experience under his belt, Hayashi reflects back on his decision to come to UB for his MBA. “I strongly believe that all that I am now stems from my days in the UB MBA program,” he says. He credits the strong curriculum for giving him the required skills in such areas as corporate finance, valuation, accounting and more. He also points out that resources available to him through the school enabled him to obtain an advanced knowledge of finance beyond the formal curriculum.

Hayashi says that while technical aspects were his primary focus, he also grew significantly in qualitative areas. “Hard work, continuous learning, teamwork, integrity, accountability, leadership, commitment and communication were fostered through the program's excellent mix of classes, individual assignments, case studies and group work,” he says. “And all of them are absolutely crucial in becoming competent in the real world.

His current role, Hayashi says, is all about excelling in an uncertain world. “This is the most challenging part of my work, but also the most rewarding,” he says. Moving forward, Hayashi says he’ll be happy as long as he continues to grow. “My goal is to create tremendous value in a highly challenging environment, and there is plenty of opportunity for that right now.”

There is another side to Akifumi Hayashi, though, apart from his work persona. “People think that I enjoy constant challenge and that I am a risk taker,” he says. “But that is only my job. When I’m off duty, I feel most comfortable when there is NO uncertainty.” At home, Hayashi and his wife, Kyo, have a 3-year-old daughter, Kyoka. “She changed our whole world,” he says. “I used to work at home, even on the weekends. Kyoka would never allow that now. She won’t even let me read the newspaper. If she had her way, 100 percent of my time would be spent playing with her,” he says. “Thanks to Kyoka, I’ve turned out to be less of a workaholic.”

Written by Jacqueline Ghosen