Ryotaro (Ryo) Tanaka

Rice MBA for Executives Class of 2016

Hometown (City and State): Osaka, Japan

Undergraduate School and Major: Doshisha University, Bachelor of Letters English 

Employer and Job Titles:
BHP Billiton, Marketing Manager, Atlantic Gas Marketing

1.      What led you to pursue an MBA? I strongly feel that in today's highly global interdependent business environment, leaders need to develop new skill sets to deal with a fast-paced and changing business landscape. Under such landscape, I firmly believe that the Rice MBA for Executives is an integral part of my future plan.         

2.      Why did you choose Rice for your executive MBA? To increase my management/leadership skills, and I wanted to be part of the large Rice network in Houston (obviously the best in Texas). I would have to echo what Gustavo Kolmel said but slightly modified, “I wanted to expand my circle of friends, grow my professional network, and most importantly, polish and develop my leadership and management skills. The Rice MBA for Executives program was the best value in terms of program reputation and caliber of fellow classmates.” 

3.      What has been a highlight of the program? Not there yet, but I know that a highlight of the program for me will be travelling together to China during the last week of April with our classmates and taking on business challenges there. Not only seeing the globalization with your own eyes, but also tackling real business problems locally and creating output with the class/team mates who’ve we almost spent two years with is just an epic grand finale of the program (and will be remembered for the rest of your life).  

4.      What has surprised you about the journey so far? How diverse our cohort is. In essence, not only the ethnicity (I know we represent so many countries), but also diverse opinions and views derived from diverse experiences, the level of where each individual is with their career, and the difference in industry and global work experience. It’s not just typical oil and gas experience.     

5.      What advice do you have for prospective students? Two things. First – be prepared to have a completely “open mindset” (actually we were given a book with this title from the program office before we began) because the Rice EMBA experience is a whole new experience. You need to be mentally prepared to be able to absorb as much as possible. Second – as it may be alluded to already, positive and life changing transformation comes with a lot of hard work for both you and your family. So, family engagement is key. I have 8- and 5-year-old boys. Managing their expectation as a father, especially during the weekends, is (still) tough, because there is a lot of reading and writing to catch up during the weekend.