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MBA Diary

A bankruptcy led to business school Add to ...

This is the first entry in a weekly column on what it's like to be an MBA student. Matthew Wilson is taking his MBA at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria.

My name is Matthew Wilson, I am 27 years old, and I can pinpoint the day that I started to consider an MBA.

It was a grey, mid-October day in Tokyo, Japan. It was 2007 and, as I had done every day, I got off the train around 9:30 a.m. in Gotanda station, amid a crowd of black-suited men and school kids. I walked two blocks to my office and took the elevator up as I did most mornings. But, unlike most days, when I was greeted by a brightly lit office with smiling receptionists, I was instead faced with a large iron door. I thought this a bit odd at first but then I started thinking about the rumours I had been hearing about my company's financial instability. I knocked on the metal door and, a few moments later, my manager sheepishly poked her head out.

"Oh good, I thought it might have been a customer; come in quickly" she said, and hurried me in the door.

I asked her what was wrong and she told me that we had been ordered to close our branch immediately by head office and to not let any customers in. We had to pack up a few things and leave the office.

There would be a large meeting that night at company headquarters explaining the situation the company faced and that all our jobs were in danger. The company went bankrupt a few weeks later, and thousands of employees were without jobs, including me.

Now, I was well aware that companies go bankrupt all the time. I had heard plenty about the Enrons and Worldcoms of the world but never had I been so personally affected before. Through the ordeal that ensued I kept coming back to the question of how that could have happened and how management could have broken down so quickly in this case. My former company had been a giant in the '90s, but had slowly declined in the mid 2000s until its demise.

All of this led me to want to know more about how businesses worked from the inside and how management decisions can affect whether companies are successful or not. In the case of my former company, it turned out to be poor management that led to the company's demise, and I wanted to become a manager that ran a company properly and for the benefit of its staff and shareholders.

Being in Japan at the time, I was already very interested in foreign languages, culture and traditions, and I wanted to find a way to combine my interest in all of these things into a new career. International business became the focus of my new career search, but I soon found there were a few more steps I needed to take to get there.

I have a background in social science and I felt I wanted to continue on with a business education. I had always wanted to pursue a master's degree and, as I began my research, I started to realize how diverse MBAs had become and what an immensely well-rounded degree it would be to get.

I knew I needed a new set of tools to get me to where I wanted to go and I felt an MBA was the best fit for pursuing a career in international business.

I wanted a program with a mix of technical business knowledge, as well as sound management techniques and international opportunities.

After my first term, I am very satisfied with my choice. I don't think I have learned more in a four-month span in my whole life.

So, in a way, my former company's bankruptcy helped me to find a passion for management and business and led to the place I am now.

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