Meet Indiana Kelley’s MBA Class Of 2020

Robert Sasaki   

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

An old soul in a young body who embraces the new and respects the old.”

Hometown: Fresno, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: When I was in 6th grade, I placed 11th in the nation in long jump at the Junior Olympics

Undergraduate School and Major: California State University, Fresno; Finance and Accounting

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Ernst & Young LLP (EY) & Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment so far is creating and founding the Bay Area Mentoring Group. The Bay Area Mentoring Group is a community service organization focused on helping underrepresented and minority students — specifically women, Hispanic, international, first generation and non-native speaking students — transition from college to the professional accounting industry. As the founder, I serve as the primary mentor and have helped over 50 students obtain internships and full-time offers from Amazon, EY, PWC, Deloitte and many other mid-size public accounting firms. In addition to mentoring students, I have conducted guest speaking engagements with seven California universities and 12 student organizations. Furthermore, I have recruited seven accounting professionals from Salesforce, EY, PWC, Visa and BPM to serve as secondary mentors to the students.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Helpful. Prior to officially starting the MBA program at the Kelley School of Business, I was accepted into the Consortium through a referral. Unbeknownst to me, the Consortium Annual Orientation Program and Career Fair was only three weeks away. Most students had been preparing for months and I was pretty far behind. Luckily, my Kelley MBA classmates helped me get up to speed and answered all my questions prior to the career fair.

Aside from your classmates, 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? Working in a Big 4 public accounting firm can be very challenging and overwhelming for many students just starting out. I was fortunate to find someone during my first year at Ernst & Young LLP (EY) who was willing to mentor me. My mentor was Tom Bernard, who is currently an executive director based out of San Francisco. Tom helped guide me during my six-year career at EY and helped me grow professionally and personally. Two years ago, I left EY to not only pursue my MBA, but more importantly, to create and found my own community service organization called the Bay Area Mentoring Group, which helps underrepresented and minority students transition from college to the professional accounting industry. Mentoring has had a tremendous impact on my professional career and I knew that I wanted to find an MBA Program that valued helping others in a personal and impactful way. The Kelley MBA Program fosters a culture in which its students, alumni, faculty and staff mentor incoming and current students. Prior to officially signing with the Kelley MBA Program, I already had alumni and current Kelley MBA students taking me under their wing and helping me with my career search, networking and interview preparation despite not having officially committed to the Kelley School of Business. Their willingness to help me exemplified how the Kelley MBA culture puts mentoring and helping those around you first.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am looking forward to Academy Fridays, specifically the Strategic Finance Academy. I think Academy Fridays are a very unique and special feature offered by the Kelley School of Business that allows students the opportunity to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to practical business problems related to their field of study.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Prior to my MBA I worked at Ernst & Young LLP (EY) for six years and I was quickly approaching the role of senior manager. I knew that I wanted to make a change in my career and that I need to do it prior to reaching upper management. From a personal perspective, my wife and I wanted to start a family and I wanted to get my MBA prior to having children.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? While I conducted my own research as to whether an MBA would be worth the investment, I relied more heavily on the advice of friends, colleagues and family members that had earned their MBA or had pursued higher education. Every single person I spoke with did not regret earning their advanced degree because they invested in themselves and their passions in life. Those are the things you rarely regret in the end.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of Texas, University of Washington, University of Washington St. Louis, Ohio State, University of California, Berkeley, and Michigan

How did you determine your fit at various schools? In order to determine the culture of each school and whether that culture was right for me, the first thing I did was research each school online. I primarily used Poets & Quants, Forbes, and US News to get a general understanding about the programs, special features and culture. The second thing I did was attend MBA fairs where I was able to meet the MBA admissions teams for the schools that I was interested in as I thought they were able to give unique insights into the MBA programs’ culture. Finally, I made sure to attend coffee chats, dinners, or social events that included alumni or current students from the MBA Programs I applied to as these individuals could provide the greatest insight into the finer points of the MBA Programs’ culture.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? One of my defining moments in life was when I left Ernst & Young LLP (EY) to not only pursue my MBA – but more importantly – create and found my own community service organization called the Bay Area Mentoring Group. Prior to starting my MBA, I knew I wanted to do something completely different that helped give back to local communities. Spending the past two years mentoring underrepresented and minority students and helping them transition into the public accounting industry has been more rewarding than any other professional accomplishment I have achieved. Giving back to communities in need has made me more well-rounded and helped me better understand what values in my life I cherish the most.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan on pursuing a career in corporate finance, specifically in FP&A or Treasury within the Technology Industry.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully five years from now, I am still with the same technology company as a manager within the FP&A or Treasury group heading towards a senior manager or VP position.

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