The first entrance ceremony for the Graduate School of Management of GLOBIS University took place at noon on the first Sunday of April amid beautiful cherry blossoms. This was the first entrance ceremony since GLOBIS was officially authorized as the Graduate School of Management.

This year, four students are taking the GDBA course and 23 are studying for their MBAs at the Osaka Campus. At the Tokyo Campus, 23 students are taking the GDBA and 55 are pursuing their MBAs. That adds up to 105 students at the two campuses who are studying to obtain GDBA certification or MBAs.

This was the first time I would be addressing an entrance ceremony with the title of Dean. A few students were older than me, and the presence of family members in the audience meant my usual casual remarks would not be enough for this occasion.

I was wracking my brain about what to say.

I certainly couldn’t miss mentioning the three pillars of the educational principles of GLOBIS, or the communication of our mission to nurture leaders of change and creativity. I also wanted to include the history of fostering GLOBIS and plans for the future. All this had to be concisely presented in 10–15 minutes. I sat down in front of my computer and started putting things together, little by little.

The day of the ceremony arrived. Students, dressed for the occasion and accompanied by their families, gathered at the GLOBIS Campus in Nibancho. Some brought their wives, others came with toddlers or parents. As 11 o’clock approached, I went inside. More than 80 students, over 20 faculty members, and about 40 family members gathered in an orderly fashion in a hall created from two GLOBIS classrooms, room 101 and 102. Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” was quietly playing in the background. When the music stopped, Keiko Kogure, the MC, proudly declared the start of the ceremony. My name was announced, and I quietly made my way onto the stage to deliver my first speech as Dean of Graduate School of Management, GLOBIS University.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, congratulations on your admission into the university. Today marks a very joyous occasion, and I welcome the talented 78 individuals present, including 23 GDBA students and 55 postgraduate students. On my way to the campus this morning, I saw the cherry blossoms and felt happy and excited, the way you feel when something new is about to begin.”

I was a little nervous, but continued, speaking slowly.

“I can’t help but think back to 14 years ago, when I was just 29 and starting up GLOBIS. We didn’t have funds, a history of customer trust, or an established track record. We were completely starting from scratch. All we had to work with was our good health, the skills gained from an MBA education, and the determination to make things happen”.

Indeed, we had started from zero.

“In the beginning, we had one room in a rented apartment in Dogenzaka that served as our office, and we began with a group of 20 students. We started out with very little, but we always held firmly to our belief that we could create a widely respected graduate university comparable to the Harvard Business School, and that we would nurture outstanding human resources. In 1996, we embarked on a joint MBA program with the University of Leicester, and in 2003 we started the GDBA. Today, we have reached the point of welcoming the first students into our graduate management program.

“Through the invaluable efforts of staff and faculty, we were ranked number three in Japan last year by the Nikkei Business Daily. For us, this represented just one more step along the way toward our goal of having GLOBIS rise to ultimately become the number one business school in Asia.

“All of you selected this graduate program as the place where you would complete your education. We have, I believe, a duty to live up to the trust and expectations of you brilliant people. In addition to offering the best possible curriculum, educational content, and faculty, we intend to put all our resources and talent into the service of your education.

“You, as leaders of change and creativity, have successfully cleared the hurdles of screening, exams, and interviews to earn your place in this program. I believe each one of you has been given the role to bring change and creativity to Japan, Asia, and the world.

“Today, as you formally enter GLOBIS, I have two requests. I suspect you will hear these over and over again during your time here.

“My first request is that you strive to absorb as much as possible. Take full advantage of the three pillars incorporated into the educational principles of GLOBIS. This is a place to develop abilityーknowledge, conceptual skills, interpersonal relationships, and aptitude. It is a place to construct a human network that will reach into the futureーyour contemporaries will be your colleagues for life, here in Tokyo and in Nagoya and Osaka. Finally, this is a place to discover your resolve and your career.

“My second request is for you as leaders of change and creativity to continually sharpen your people skills and expand your human capacities. Maintain the highest ethical standards. Develop your sensitivities and ability to empathize with others. Hold fast to a sense of justice, a philosophy of right and conduct. Develop a strong sense of missionーyour kokorozashi.

“Although you will all graduate in just a few years, I hope you will gain a deep joy in learning during your time here. I want you to absorb everything that is being made available to you. Today, we have gathered great students, a great faculty, and a great staff. We also have many great GDBA senpai. Never allow any barriers to come between you as GDBAs and MBAs. Help each other and share your dreams.

“I fervently hope that all of you during your time at GLOBIS will develop and grow to new heights over the next few years.”

After I finished speaking, I quietly returned to my seat. I had been nervous, but overall I felt it had gone quite well.

Next up, two students presented their enrollment declarations. They boldly proclaimed their determination to learn as leaders of change and creativity and to contribute to society. I was deeply moved.

Then, each student stood up as their names were called and introduced themselves. Each introduction highlighted the individuality of the students, and intermittent laughter broke up the nervousness. The common thing I observed in each student was a genuine enthusiasm and a solid character. Each faculty and staff member was also called out by name to share a brief word of greeting. With each statement, you could feel the depth of commitment to build a solid graduate program.

The ceremony then came to a close. An informal reception was held in the adjoining lounge. The cherry blossoms could be seen out of the window, further enhancing the overall mood of the entrance ceremony.

We invited family members to say a few words, and I was deeply impressed by what they had to say. There was a mother who had come all the way up from Hiroshima, wives carrying infants or expecting to give birth, a son who was in his second year at college, newlyweds, and fiancés with marriage just around the corner. All of them put their feelings into what they had to say. All of their remarks were full of affection.

“When I heard about the graduate school plans,” said one person, “I felt uneasy at first, but coming here today I feel reassured. I want to be as supportive as I can to provide a genuine environment for learning over the next few years.”

The decision to enter the GLOBIS MBA/GDBA program is not something one can undertake alone. To begin with, it costs some 3 million yen, and you have to be willing to study on weekends or in the evening while continuing to work. This places a significant burden on family members for two or three years, in terms of both time and money. But the remarks from family members have renewed the dedication of staff and faculty to offer a high-quality program and graduate school.