Akihiro MURAO

Class of 2018, Service Value Creation Program(Currently:Service&Hospitality Program)

OTS Service Management Research & Consulting Inc.,(Okinawa Tourist Group)

The Reason Why You Chose GSM

Akihiro MURAO

In my previous job, I worked in Myanmar, a newly emerging economy in South East Asia, for about four years. My assignment was to work with team members to launch a new business in the region, a task which I found challenging and exciting. I appreciated the fact that I was given that opportunity in the company. There were, however, considerable difficulties in implementing a start-up project in a newly emerging economy. I failed to live up to the expectations which the company had of me, and failed to achieve the goal. Looking back, I now admit that I did not possess sufficient capabilities to manage the project. Given that background, I decided to enter a graduate school to study management.

While there are many business schools in the world teaching management, I was attracted to GSM at Kyoto University. The reason was that the curriculum offered a course called the “Service Value Creation Programme”. In my past business experiences, I had come to realise that what was most difficult to achieve was the nurture and dissemination of the concept of “service hospitality”, embodying it as a commercial activity performed by a business. “Service hospitality” is an intangible asset. How can it generate economic and social value? I was planning to elucidate that question by applying the most up-to-date analytical methods taught at GSM, thus creating “service hospitality” values. I was keen on developing my communication skills as well. The curriculum provides the students with excellent opportunities to study these subjects systematically and logically. For these reasons I chose GSM.

What You Learned at GSM

All that I knew about business management when I entered GSM had been gained through the limited experiences of my previous career. I had acquired a few rules of thumb about business through those experiences. Once the course started, however, I was inspired by all the classes, lectures, drills and exercises. They fascinated me. There were active and stimulating discussions among students. Faculty members supported the discussions by injecting their expertise-based advice whenever it was necessary. Students’ backgrounds were diverse and colourful, and discussions sometimes became overheated. I highly appreciated the opportunities to share knowledge and information about different countries, sectors and business environments. I could gain diverse perspectives. My understanding of business deepened significantly.

The GSM curriculum is designed based on a multiple-step approach, consisting of basic subjects, specialised subjects, pragmatic and advanced subjects. Students can not only acquire knowledge, but also face a real-world context, in which they are required to identify specific issues to resolve. They are required to put the issues together and organise them systematically into an agenda. This is aimed at developing their problem-solving knowledge and competence. The students can obtain many capabilities through these exercises, becoming excellent solution-providers.

The Reason Why You Chose Your Career Plan

When I was looking for a new job, I gave priority to finding a working environment in which what I had learned at GSM could be used positively, bringing some benefit to the business. I wanted to find a job in an industry with a strong growth potential. I tried to find a post in a business where what I had learned and my perspectives on business management as well as service value creation could be used positively. I hope that I will be able to make a better contribution to society because of my experience at GSM. I believe that it is important for employees in a company to feel comfortable about expressing their views among themselves as well as to the management. I tried to find a company in which frank communication among employees as well as between employees and management was encouraged and promoted. Given all those considerations, I finally chose to work for my current employer.

What Impressed You About GSM

While there were many stimulating lectures and discussions, what was particularly memorable was a research project in a workshop in which I got involved.
Since childhood I have always been fond of watching sports. Some say that “it is not the case that spectators of sports come to the stadium and support their favourite athletes just to gain satisfaction”. They say the truth is that “those people come to the stadium and support their favourite athletes because then they feel personally involved in the sport”. I believe that this is true. It does not matter whether or not the spectators gain satisfaction. In fact, for my research project I chose this notion, the psychology of spectators of sports. I attempted to dig into this concept to evaluate it more deeply. As a result, my views on sports events completely changed, broadening my horizons.

It was not easy to apply the analytical methodology taught in classes to field work in the real world. I had to rattle my brains to work out the most suitable words and expressions to address my questions to participants in my survey. On this point, I owe a lot to the GSM faculty guiding the project as well as to my fellow students. They gave me strong support through their advice. In the midst of the survey, I found that the research had oriented itself in a totally different direction from the original plan. I was excited by this reorientation, and became even more committed to the project. I felt as if the research had become something like a living organism, evolving on its own.

Extracurricular Activities You Have Done

When I was not attending classes, I focused my efforts on assessing what I had learned at GSM. I tried to verify it in the real world. I was especially interested in service industries, including tourism, in which the concept of service value creation seemed particularly relevant. I made an utmost effort to observe the service industry from users’ perspectives, collecting customers’ feedback.

While attending GSM, I visited 50 cities in about 20 countries altogether. I prepared all itineraries, booked transport and accommodation myself, without depending on travel agencies. When arriving at a destination, I used local transport services. In each location, I assessed the services from the perspectives of both users and service providers. I evaluated the promotional schemes, PR activities and their impact on the industry in all those destinations. The point was that I was evaluating each place based on my hands-on experience, while, at the same time, being fortified with the knowledge and theories that I had learned at GSM.

Sports never stop fascinating me. I visited more than 30 stadiums in the world, both domestic and international. I was interested in measuring and observing the sport industry’s structure, how the industry is related to society and local communities, and the value and amount of traffic which sport events can generate in modern life. I travelled around all those places as an activity outside the official GSM curriculum. In the end, however, the experience of these trips and field surveys inspired me strongly, giving a driving force to my research paper entitled “Social Reviews on Customer Satisfaction and Spectator Traffic Created by Kyoto Sanga F.C.”.

I made significant efforts not only for my own self-development, but also for strengthening networks among GSM students. They come from highly diversified backgrounds. Thanks to encounters with many fellow students, each individual can enhance their potential. I believe that the GSM alumni I met will remain as an extremely valuable asset for the rest of my life.

Message for Prospective Students

Modern society is full of goods and information, to a degree that is almost unbelievable. It is, therefore, all the more important for us to “have something, to which we commit ourselves with love”. This sort of passion, curiosity and dedication to learning will lead us into the future. This is, in fact, the most important thing that I learned at GSM. The curriculum provides us with diverse subjects with highly rich content. Unless we have the passion, interest and dedication to learn, time would pass too quickly, leaving us behind with unfinished work. Since Kyoto is such a wonderful tourist destination, I was sometimes almost overwhelmed by its charm. I felt as if I should leave my work half done to seek some fun in the lively streets of the city. However, I did not dump my work for fun. I could manage to complete my research and course work. What supported me was always “curiosity”, which guided me to achieve my goals.

I would like to advise those who are thinking about GSM as follows: Please think about “what you want to do”, instead of “what you should do”. Whether you will have a rewarding and exciting 2-year experience at GSM all depends on “what you want to do”.

At GSM, I had many opportunities to listen to the talks of guest speakers, who were business leaders managing their own companies. While the guest speakers addressed the students, the faculty members presented their analytical and theoretical reviews based on their expertise. Those sessions inspired me tremendously, stimulating my curiosity for further learning. I will deeply cherish those memories as long as I live.

At GSM, all students will receive exciting and stimulating lectures. They will encounter the outstanding faculty. Many new friends with be made, who have diverse backgrounds, knowledge and experience. Please go to study at GSM and add truly invaluable experiences to your life.