“Taking action is the key”
After studying economics at Chulalongkorn University, Kojakorn Pojthanamas worked as a tax consultant at KPMG Thailand for approximately four years, but she was unable to relate to her job. To explore broader aspects of business and make a shift in her career, she has decided to take action and apply for Waseda’s International MBA Program.
“I used to believe that not so many people have passion for work, but a lot of people I have met have said, ‘You have to love what you are doing.’ At first, I thought this was impossible, but then one day, I told myself that I really have to find something since I kept hearing this over and over. Since then, I have been thinking about what makes me happy.”
Studying at Waseda’s International MBA Program
Pojthanamas says she is glad to invest two years of her time in Japan. Studying and working abroad have always been her childhood dream, and she has been interested in Japan since junior high school. Pojthanamas even enrolled in Japanese language school for a year. Furthermore, Waseda was the only choice when she was applying to graduate school.
“Waseda is famous in Thailand, and I like the fact that it is in Tokyo. That makes it easier for my family to visit me. Also, because the program is in English, it answers all of my conditions.”
Once arriving, however, Pojthanamas found herself in a different environment than an MBA program she had imagined, where cutthroat, aggressive discussions with rivaling classmates would take place. Instead, she feels the curriculum is a good balance between discussions among peers and feedbacks from professors through lectures.
“At Waseda, everyone tries to listen and compromise. That’s what I like about this University. Also, there are about 40 to 50 people in my batch, majority of whom are Thai, Taiwanese, and Chinese. They also hail from countries in Europe, the United States, and South Africa. Because everyone is from a different background, they all have unique views to share, and you can expand on your network and build connections here.”
Through her classes, Pojthanamas is gaining practical and hands-on experiences. In her marketing project last semester, the professor invited the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Nestlé Co., Ltd., where Pojthanamas and her peers had the opportunity to present their marketing plans for Nestlé products to the CMO. In addition, she has given a presentation to the underclassmen on how to conduct surveys for their upcoming project, allowing her to learn from teaching. Furthermore, she is making new discoveries, such as the one she has made in her class about entrepreneurship taught by her advisor, Professor Hironori Higashide.
“Usually, when you talk about entrepreneurship, it’s mainly about ideas, imagination, innovation, and other intangible things. But, Professor Higashide tries to highlight that it’s not only ideas that matter. He says, ‘You need to quantify the numbers and from those numbers, you have to make sound decisions.’ This was an eye-opener for me.”
Living abroad for the first time
Pojthanamas is enjoying her Waseda experience thus far, but not everything has been smooth sailing, as she has faced challenges of overcoming language barriers. Although she has some international exposure through traveling, this is Pojthanamas’ first time living abroad. When she arrived, she couldn’t even understand what the staff at the convenience store was asking, which was whether she wanted a plastic bag or not. Yet, she is not discouraged.
“I am trying to build my language skills now by participating in language exchange sessions organized by the Intercultural Communication Center (ICC), and it’s getting better and better. Also, my professor tries to bring the Japanese and international students together in and outside the classroom for different occasions. Even though I have Thai friends on campus, I try to meet new people. Regardless of nationalities, you will feel as if the people you meet were your family once you start hanging out with them. It could get lonely sometimes, but life in Japan could be exciting with the friends you make.”
Finding new interests and passion
Currently, Pojthanamas’ interests are in marketing, fast moving consumer good (FMCG) businesses in particular. She realized that she was most happy when cooking, walking around department stores, or even shopping for daily goods at convenience stores and pharmacies. All these activities are related to FMCG businesses, finally linking what she enjoys to a possible career.
“In the future, I would like to apply for positions at FMCG companies in Japan. Studying abroad is now off my bucket list, so now, I want to try working abroad. Even if I decide to work in Thailand, I believe the knowledge and skills I have gained, including my Japanese language proficiency, will be valuable assets.”
Lastly, Pojthanamas says that the question of what your passions are is not something that someone else could answer.
“Finding your passion is only about you, including what you like or want in life. Taking action will become a key factor to know what something is like so you can make decisions. Sometimes, when you think things on the top of your head, you can’t really find an answer. By taking action, you will know yourself better, and although we all have our constraints, it’s up to ourselves to manage what we have.”
Waseda Business School (WBS)
WBS aims to support those who aspire to a step-up in their career and those who plan to start a new career. WBS offers an International MBA and MSc in Finance, which are entirely taught in English. These programs attract students from all over the world, and it is in close contact with top-class business schools abroad. For more information, visit the WBS website.