A Conversation with Minerva Graduate Student Lorenzo

Mar 29, 2022

This is part of a series of profiles introducing Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis (MDA) students from the Class of 2023. If you would like to learn more about the MDA program, please visit minerva.edu/graduate-programs.

“Classes at Minerva taught me to be more confident about expressing and defending my opinion,” shares Lorenzo Shinnosuke Imai, a current Master in Decision Analysis student at Minerva.

Back in his home country of Japan, before he joined Minerva, Lorenzo did not have any previous experience with an active learning format of education, with students being required to share their views of the topic and debate them with others through active participation in class. While initially presenting his ideas in front of his peers was a bit of a challenge, Lorenzo quickly learned how to navigate the new class environment and gained the confidence to participate in discussions actively. In this regard, he particularly appreciates the fact that faculty at Minerva takes care to always be supportive of students, so they do not feel the pressure to give a correct answer every single time — if there is any confusion about the material, faculty is always willing to help.

“I believe the atmosphere of the class also helped me get through the change of academic experience. All of my classmates are very open to my opinions, even though I do not really have as much experience as them. Such an approach allowed me to get comfortable with the dynamic class environment and complex topics we were tackling,” concludes Lorenzo.

Aside from strengthening his public speaking skills, Lorenzo has realized the importance of learning from the people around him in this environment. “Meeting classmates from all over the world was not only exciting but also useful from a professional standpoint. Most of the students in my classes are older and are more advanced in their career journeys, which gave me an opportunity to learn from them and ask for career advice,” reflects Lorenzo. He often receives valuable advice from his diverse community of classmates, which has helped him gain a better understanding of different professional industries and potential career directions. “Studying with people who hold a deep knowledge of their industries has been an enriching experience,” he shares.

With one of the reasons for Lorenzo to join the MDA program being that he was seeking career advancement, he has been working towards this goal since the beginning of classes and recently received a job offer from Qualtrics, where he will begin work this summer. During the job search process, Lorenzo not only engaged closely with Minerva’s Coaching and Talent Development team for help with his career path, but also found the advice his more experienced classmates shared instrumental to his success.

For his undergraduate degree, Lorenzo studied psychology and while his initial intention was to dive deeper into the topics behavioral economics and neuroscience in particular, he has found the range of interdisciplinary courses at Minerva insightful and relevant to his academic and professional passions. Currently, he is working on researching and developing a product that helps people focus on tasks better and has found his academic assignments at Minerva to be particularly useful in the professional world. Both of the projects he completed on the topics of problem characterization and bias identification provided Lorenzo with frameworks he was able to use to understand the issue of people’s ability to focus and complete tasks at a deeper level. “Sometimes, I showcase the problem-solving approach I gained at Minerva at work, and my co-workers find it is very useful. Even my manager found the problem characterization framework very relevant to the project’s context; he was very curious to learn more about it from me,” he shares.

In Lorenzo’s experience, one of Minerva’s key values is the appreciation of diversity in opinion. Questioning authority or criticizing the ideas of someone higher in hierarchy is considered inappropriate in Japanese culture, and that is something Lorenzo has personally taken issue with in the past. At Minerva, he has had the opportunity to experience first hand how questioning concepts and ideas leads to more progressive discussion and results, and benefits people on both sides of the conversation. Minerva has shown Lorenzo the importance of adopting a critical thinking approach in solving problems, which he has integrated into his personal and professional lives.