Mia Vallero, MBA ’23, visited Nara, Japan four years ago. She remembers seeing the deer at Nara Park, and how playful and eager they were to be fed crackers by visitors. This past August, she returned to the same prefecture but this time the trip was part of the Chaminade University One Year MBA degree program, and she noticed the deer were not as lively as she remembered.
“It forced me to reflect on the tourism industry in Japan and in Hawaii,” Vallero ruminates. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to think twice about the use of wildlife for tourism and entertainment.”
Thinking deeply about business practices, culture, and economic impact and sustainability are all part of Chaminade’s One Year MBA program of which Vallero entered in the fall of 2022. The recent trip to Japan was one of the final segments of the program, as she traveled with eight fellow MBA candidates, her professor Dr. Caryn Callahan, and the Interim Dean of the School of Business and Communication Dr. Annette Santos.
A customer service manager at Aloha Freight Forwarders, Vallero enrolled in the One Year MBA program for the experience and skills she would gain to expand opportunities for her future.
Likewise for fellow MBA candidate Joshua McDonough who earned his bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Both Vallero and McDonough belong to the second cohort of the One Year MBA program, which they will complete this September 2023. The first cohort of students entered in the fall of 2021 and earned their MBAs in September 2022. A third cohort will begin this September 2023 and will conclude in September 2024. All graduates have the option to participate in Chaminade’s commencement ceremony the following May of their program completion.
As an executive program designed for people who have work experience, the One Year MBA program provides valuable resources, credentials, and professional and practical classroom and real world exposure to its graduate students. In-person classes held every other Saturday on campus are supplemented by online course work and travel abroad, which is largely sponsored by Chaminade. The first cohort traveled to New Zealand and the international destination for the third cohort is yet to be determined.
“Through this MBA program, I look to broaden my business perspective, grow my professional network and enhance my leadership, communication and critical thinking skills,” McDonough says.
On the recent trip to Japan, MBA candidates visited such businesses and organizations as the Luxottica eyeglass frame factory, the Masunaga Optical Company, Daiko Advertising and Asahi Beer Suita Brewery. They also attended a baseball game at Koshien Stadium and enjoyed a private meeting with Kazuhiro Tanabe, a director of the stadium.
Visiting the eyeglass and optical companies was particularly relevant since students were tasked to study the industry in preparation for their trip to Japan. They compared the operations of two different manufacturers, with one based in Milan, Italy—but has a presence in Japan— and the other based in Japan. They researched how a progressive, modern approach differs from a more traditional business model, and how they market, manufacture and distribute their products.
“There’s nothing like getting students out into the field,” says Dr. Caryn Callahan, who has been teaching the One Year MBA program since its inception. “You can read textbooks and study in the classroom, but by traveling abroad we were able to meet with the presidents of companies, and were greeted warmly by high-level management. The students had researched the companies, and they were well prepared before going into these meetings”
Dr. Annette Santos agrees and recognizes the valuable experience students received by seeing Japanese business cultures through a western lens, learning about the diversification of industries, and understanding the differences and similarities between eastern and western ways of conducting business.”
“Each curated tour, visits to manufacturing companies, meetings with heads of organizations was a professional and personal growth opportunity for our students,” Santos says. “Students asked very good questions, such as, ‘What is it like to be a leader?’ as well as about production and supply chain. It was really nice to see the students’ critical-thinking capacity, as reflected by the questions they asked the leaders.”
On September 16, the School of Business and Communication will hold a banquet for the graduating One Year MBA class, as well as for the new cohort of students entering the program to begin their 12 month journey, which will also conclude with international travel.
“Our international study trips transform students’ understanding of business and provide a wonderful opportunity of exposure to other cultures and local business practices,” says Dr. Eduard Merc, who is Chaminade’s MBA director. “Additionally, the academic trip gives participants a comprehensive overview of trends in business and an in-depth view into companies currently operating in the Asia Pacific region.
“At the School of Business and Communication, we believe in the importance of our students seeing firsthand the strategies that international businesses have pursued to take part in the explosive growth of Asia, and how these companies effectively adapt to the ever-changing business, social, and political landscapes in which they operate,” Merc adds. “This supplements their MBA classroom learning in significant ways by learning directly from business leaders.”
The banquet will be bittersweet for the outgoing students whose lives for the past year were filled with the collegiality of their close-knit class. Now as alumni, they belong to Chaminade’s global network. And like many of his fellow MBA ’23 graduates, Ethan Dayton had a vision for what he hoped to accomplish a year ago when he started the curriculum.
“My goal at the end of this program is to have amassed new knowledge,” wrote Dayton, a year ago, “and skills that expand my career path options.”
Indeed, by all accounts, his and the entire cohort’s goals were beyond achieved.