MINERVA VOICES

Think Global, Act Local

by Tomoe Ueyama Hashimoto | Master in Decision Analysis (MDA) Class of 2019

February 12, 2019

Upon graduating from college in Japan in 2007, I landed a marketing job at Sony. I was excited to work for one of the leading consumer electronics companies, but soon after I started, I began to notice a sense of stagnation and frustration in the workplace.

At the time, Sony, like most manufacturing companies in Japan, was in the midst of adapting to the fast-changing global economy and the subsequent uncertainties arising from changes in technologies and consumer preferences. Organizations were shifting the traditional manufacturers’ engineering-focused business model to one that promoted innovative ideas that catered to evolving market needs.

At the same time, a nationwide survey showed that almost one third of the companies in Japan believed young graduates had inferior abilities, such as problem-solving skills, compared to graduates ten years earlier. I questioned whether this was in fact true, or whether workplace expectations had actually become more demanding or both.

I came to realize that this issue was more deeply rooted in Japan’s social system — a gap had emerged between the outcomes of the current education system and the needs of the modern workforce.

Through my time working in Sony’s educational business arm, I learned that the Japanese government enacted several initiatives to change education policy. However, most focused largely on the K-12 populations and while the system has been moving towards nurturing self-directed learners and helping them excel in real world environments — the higher education system has largely been unaddressed.

Despite the new innovations in primary education, other research shows that Japan has the lowest percentage of adults who return to school among OECD countries. Even though the world at large is changing at rapid pace, it appears the majority of adults in Japan do not actively seek learning opportunities and, instead, rely on their existing knowledge, abilities, and skills to advance their careers. The concern with this method is that it may be contributing to the widening gap between workforce needs and actual abilities.

But how can we create value in an increasingly complex and globalized society when our education has been based on outdated assumptions? How can we promote and provide continued, lifelong learning opportunities to meet those needs? At Minerva, I focused my studies to answer these questions.

I found out about Minerva’s Master of Science in Decision Analysis (MDA) program through my own research; I was interested in innovative approaches that could nurture independent thinkers and inform them how to apply their knowledge to real world situations. Upon learning about the program, I was confident Minerva could provide professionals, like me, with necessary tools we need in this unpredictable world and empower those of us willing to take further steps toward their personal development.

Throughout the program, my classmates and I have learned concepts, skills, and “habits of mind” that taught us how to make strategic and effective decisions amidst the uncertainty in our organizations and our personal lives. The Cornerstone courses are equally focused on developing critical and creative thinking skills, understanding complex systems, and utilizing effective research methods. We are continually challenged to re-apply these skills across different contexts — a process crucial for creating value in society. Instead of exams or simply memorizing content , the majority of our classes are spent in discussions of the key points of our readings through an active learning style, such as debates and breakout groups.

This past year went by quickly for me. Every day I was challenged both before and during class. Unlike a traditional Masters in Business Administration program, the MDA curriculum is interdisciplinary by design. We covered topics and real problems in fields ranging from data science, economics, psychology, business, natural and social sciences, and more. I admit, I was overwhelmed during the first few weeks by how different Minerva’s classes are from any other educational program that I had experienced. But I also realized how little those previous experiences had taught me in regards to how to deeply think through things and to problem solve effectively.

It was especially mind-blowing for me to be reminded what critical thinking actually means in the real world. For example, we have learned how to identify logical fallacies, protect against (or even utilize) human biases, consider ethical frameworks in decision making, and assess the reliability of information — even from “experts.” Relatedly, we have also realized that creative thinking is not merely coming up with new ideas, but also re-evaluating old ones and making associations or analogies to concepts and ideas from other disciplines to derive innovative and effective opportunities.

Quick Facts

Name
Country
Class
Major

Cognitive Science and Economics & Political Science

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Cells and Organisms & Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Applied Problem Solving & Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

Upon graduating from college in Japan in 2007, I landed a marketing job at Sony. I was excited to work for one of the leading consumer electronics companies, but soon after I started, I began to notice a sense of stagnation and frustration in the workplace.

At the time, Sony, like most manufacturing companies in Japan, was in the midst of adapting to the fast-changing global economy and the subsequent uncertainties arising from changes in technologies and consumer preferences. Organizations were shifting the traditional manufacturers’ engineering-focused business model to one that promoted innovative ideas that catered to evolving market needs.

At the same time, a nationwide survey showed that almost one third of the companies in Japan believed young graduates had inferior abilities, such as problem-solving skills, compared to graduates ten years earlier. I questioned whether this was in fact true, or whether workplace expectations had actually become more demanding or both.

I came to realize that this issue was more deeply rooted in Japan’s social system — a gap had emerged between the outcomes of the current education system and the needs of the modern workforce.

Through my time working in Sony’s educational business arm, I learned that the Japanese government enacted several initiatives to change education policy. However, most focused largely on the K-12 populations and while the system has been moving towards nurturing self-directed learners and helping them excel in real world environments — the higher education system has largely been unaddressed.

Despite the new innovations in primary education, other research shows that Japan has the lowest percentage of adults who return to school among OECD countries. Even though the world at large is changing at rapid pace, it appears the majority of adults in Japan do not actively seek learning opportunities and, instead, rely on their existing knowledge, abilities, and skills to advance their careers. The concern with this method is that it may be contributing to the widening gap between workforce needs and actual abilities.

But how can we create value in an increasingly complex and globalized society when our education has been based on outdated assumptions? How can we promote and provide continued, lifelong learning opportunities to meet those needs? At Minerva, I focused my studies to answer these questions.

I found out about Minerva’s Master of Science in Decision Analysis (MDA) program through my own research; I was interested in innovative approaches that could nurture independent thinkers and inform them how to apply their knowledge to real world situations. Upon learning about the program, I was confident Minerva could provide professionals, like me, with necessary tools we need in this unpredictable world and empower those of us willing to take further steps toward their personal development.

Throughout the program, my classmates and I have learned concepts, skills, and “habits of mind” that taught us how to make strategic and effective decisions amidst the uncertainty in our organizations and our personal lives. The Cornerstone courses are equally focused on developing critical and creative thinking skills, understanding complex systems, and utilizing effective research methods. We are continually challenged to re-apply these skills across different contexts — a process crucial for creating value in society. Instead of exams or simply memorizing content , the majority of our classes are spent in discussions of the key points of our readings through an active learning style, such as debates and breakout groups.

This past year went by quickly for me. Every day I was challenged both before and during class. Unlike a traditional Masters in Business Administration program, the MDA curriculum is interdisciplinary by design. We covered topics and real problems in fields ranging from data science, economics, psychology, business, natural and social sciences, and more. I admit, I was overwhelmed during the first few weeks by how different Minerva’s classes are from any other educational program that I had experienced. But I also realized how little those previous experiences had taught me in regards to how to deeply think through things and to problem solve effectively.

It was especially mind-blowing for me to be reminded what critical thinking actually means in the real world. For example, we have learned how to identify logical fallacies, protect against (or even utilize) human biases, consider ethical frameworks in decision making, and assess the reliability of information — even from “experts.” Relatedly, we have also realized that creative thinking is not merely coming up with new ideas, but also re-evaluating old ones and making associations or analogies to concepts and ideas from other disciplines to derive innovative and effective opportunities.