Meet Chicago Booth’s MBA Class Of 2019

Atsushi Yamazaki

The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Extremely active, social and inquisitive Japanese, who loves challenges and adventures!

Hometown: Tokyo, Japan

Fun Fact About Yourself:

Seven Summit Challenge: I’m a passionate mountaineer and am part way through the “Seven Summit Challenge,” climbing the highest peak on each of seven continents. I have already done three of them, Africa’s highest Kilimanjaro, Europe’s highest Elbrus, and Australia’s highest Kosciuszko. Bonding with teammates, challenging myself beyond limits, and seeing with my own eyes what few people will ever see are experiences worth sharing with my Chicago Booth classmates.

NPO establishment: After Japan’s massive 2011 earthquake, volunteers rushed to help. However, fear of nuclear contamination kept volunteers away from cities near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Trying to deliver hope to desperate victims, I went straight to the hardest hit areas. I delivered relief supplies, raised donations, and helped in physical rebuilding, but also wanted to help relieve Fukushima of a Chernobyl-like nuclear stigma. Therefore, I established an NPO, “Happy Island,” to help Fukushima recover its reputation, and we got to work creating a “recovery” CD for worldwide distribution. We lined up from American and European classic rock artists to a Venezuelan pop music artist and a Filipino heavy metal band. We produced a CD of talents and sounds that truly represented a global effort. We distributed 4,581 CDs with positive message about Fukushima to more than 24 countries 7,338 Leaflets and founded more than JPY 1.0 million. We also communicated our positive message from receiver of the CDs back to victims and I even appeared on TV programs in Fukushima to discuss our project.

Rockstar: I was a band leader, song composer, guitarist and vocalist of “ASUNARO,” a rock-band with over 100 public performances, several nation-wide tours, and commercially released CDs. ASUNARO also played in the huge venues where Oasis and Red Hot Chillipeppers play in their Japan tours. The lyrics of ASUNARO encourage the listeners to pursue their hopes and dreams. The music is super-fast paced and leads crowd-surfing and mosh on the floor.

I also established a record label “2327 Records” to discover the new talent, produce and distribute CDs throughout the nation including HMV and Tower Records.

Athlete: I run marathons and triathlons. I’ve done a 42k in 3:36:44. I keep training every week. I run because it keeps me in balance, physically and mentally. I also like that both marathons and triathlons require long term commitment and effort. I play soccer every week, as I have since elementary school. Unlike long-distance running, the most solitary of activities, I love the solidarity of team sports.

Undergraduate School and Major: Tokyo University of Science, Industrial Administrations, Bachelor / Master of Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Morgan Stanley’s Fixed Income IT for totally 3 years, supporting traders and sales, developing IT applications, and working on quantitative analysis including data analysis, bond valuation, risk calculation, and trade booking J.P. Morgan’s Investment Banking for 6 years, marketing and executing M&A and finance transactions

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment was the execution of the merger of two Japanese energy giants. We spent huge time on its pitching and had meetings with senior management very often. When the transaction was announced, the transaction was on the headline of Nikkei newspaper, the biggest economic newspaper in Japan. I was responsible for the main part of the transaction, such as valuation, due diligence, and the point of contact from our client, other advisors and counterpart-financial advisor, under the supervision of the senior banker in the team. This transaction was something I was dreamed of when I determined to become an investment banker, so I am so happy to be a part of this transaction.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? It is extremely critical to be confident during the whole application process. To be honest, although I had a lot of barriers that I had to break, I always trusted myself and never gave up. This sounds like just too overconfidence, LOL.. When the test scores do not improve or essays do not go well, you might feel like giving up. But, please don’t give up and keep it up! The Sun will rise!

The biggest obstacle for me was time management. Since I was working as an investment banker full-time, it was really difficult to manage my time for TOEFL, GMAT, essays and Interviews. So, you should carefully plan in advance but please keep in mind that you have to prepare for the unexpected situations. “Expect the unexpected” was my doctrine throughout the application process.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Chicago Booth offers the best mix of everything! For example, Boothies think as an individual but work as a team. Curriculum consists of the best mix of case study, academic lecture and experiential learnings. Entrepreneurship, social impact and marketing are getting Booth’s next arrows, although it is apparently strong at its finance and economics programs.

Since I spent my nine years in finance world, I would like to know more about business, operation and strategy areas. However, I also want to hone my finance expertise to the next level. Therefore, unparalleled high-level finance education opportunities and robust non-financial offerings including corporate strategy fits me perfectly!

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?

  • Fostering life-long friendships with my classmates
  • Building a next-level finance expertise, skills and experience
  • Implementing the basic corporate strategy skill-sets, including operation, marketing, and entrepreneurship
  • Experiencing and absorbing a variety of the culture, the ways of thinking, and the beliefs from diversified classmates
  • Building my own leadership style
  • Receiving an offer at my dream company
  • Making Chicago Booth at all the MBA rankings No.1!


Related Stories In Our Meet The Class of 2019 Series: 

The Pioneering MBAs In The Class of 2019

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management

London Business School

University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business

Notre Dame University Mendoza College of Business

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

New York University Stern School of Business

University of Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business

University of Michigan Ross School of Business

Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business

MIT Sloan School of Management

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Columbia Business School