Funding my MBA programme through Company Sponsorship

I am Take Kato, an MBA candidate in the class of 2024 at London Business School. Prior to joining LBS, I spent nine years at Mitsubishi Corporation, a Japanese trading and investment company operating business across the industry, gaining valuable experience as an investment manager in the mineral resource sector. In my role, I managed aluminium producing assets overseas, and participated in multiple investment activities, including M&A transactions on both the sell-side and buy-side.

I was born in Milan and raised in Tokyo, which helped to foster an international mindset from a young age, but even so, I sought a more immersive global experience as a business professional. In addition, witnessing the slow economic growth in Japan and experiencing the challenges faced by traditional, carbon-intensive industries further fuelled my desire for change. I saw finance as a powerful tool for driving innovation and business transformation, while realising the critical role of strong corporate culture in fostering such growth. These experiences propelled me towards the pursuit of an MBA, a quest to equip myself with the knowledge and skills needed to elevate my career and create impact to future society.

Although there are many business schools around the world, LBS was definitely my top-choice. It provides an unparalleled environment to cultivate a genuinely international perspective, surrounded by a diverse cohort hailing from various continents. Additionally, LBS stood out as the ideal institution to deepen my understanding of both finance and corporate culture through its high-quality academic courses.

How are you funding your programme?

Thankfully, I am studying  at LBS as a sponsored student. Mitsubishi Corporation covers my full tuition and provides support for living expenses in London. This sponsorship enables me to focus wholeheartedly on my MBA journey, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the rich learning environment that LBS provides.

How did you kickstart the process?

The journey to LBS started from three essential tasks: 1) self-reflection, 2) gathering school information, and 3) score making. I probed myself relentlessly: “What’s my career goal? Do I truly need an MBA to achieve it? Which school aligns best with my aspirations?” while gathering information from multiple sources and tackling the GMAT.

Simultaneously, there was a rigorous internal selection process within the company to secure sponsorship for my MBA. Similar to the actual MBA application process, I had to navigate through essay submission and interviews.

Where did you find relevant information?

I sought information from various sources, including the LBS website, coffee chats with current students and alumni, and the LBS Japan Club website. The LBS website not only provided a wealth of useful information but also served as a platform for accessing the latest updates and webinar opportunities. Conversations with current students and alumni proved invaluable, offering real insights. The LBS Japan Club diligently shared experiences through its website (though currently only in Japanese), serving as an excellent source to connect with current students.

Additionally, visiting the campus provided a tangible understanding of the school, helping me envision my potential studies.

What were the biggest factors in your funding choices?

My post-MBA career goals are to create impact through driving business transformation and build a strong corporate culture. These were the primary factors influencing my funding decisions. As I really like the company, and the strategic direction aligned with my aspirations, I want to continue my career with Mitsubishi after my MBA. However, funding options are like shoes – they have to fit your specific journey. It is important to keep your future goals in mind, when exploring other funding options such as scholarships and loans.

What advice would you have for someone going through the admissions process?

My advice is very simple, “Never give up”.

Everyone faces challenging moments during the application process, but please keep in mind that only those who persist, believe in themselves and take every possible action have the right to pursue an MBA.

In my case, I really struggled with the score-making and eventually applied with a  lower-than-average score. While you cannot immediately alter your score, it is just one piece of the puzzle, and there is always room to shine in other areas. I poured my energy into crafting compelling essays, answering application questions thoughtfully, and preparing for interviews. The LBS admissions team values commitment and passion above all else, so prove that you belong at LBS.

After coming to LBS, I can confidently assert that your success in an MBA is not contingent on your score at all. Your passion, willingness to learn and ability to take action, especially during the challenging moments are much more important.

Anything else you would like to share?

Being a sponsored student opened doors to incredible experiences. During the summer, I undertook an internship in a startup in Nairobi, Kenya. Coming from a large organisation, working in a startup in a completely different continent and culture was an absolutely amazing experience.

Your funding choice can shape your MBA journey. Depending on your funding choice, it can encourage you to take risks, embrace unfamiliar territories and provide opportunities for meaningful challenges.

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