2021 MBAs To Watch: Toru Nanami, INSEAD

Toru Nanami     


“The 5th generation owner of my family’s Japanese green tea trading company since 1865.”

Hometown: Shizuoka, Japan

Fun fact about yourself: Lived in Canada for 8 years and worked as an investment banker for 5 years prior to joining my family business.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business, Bachelor of Commerce, Specialization in Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

HAMASA-EN Co., Ltd. [Wholesale and Retail Tea Trading Company Since 1865 (Family Business)

Executive Director / Board Member

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I was working at HAMASA-EN Co., Ltd. as a full-timer until right before I came to Singapore in December 2020.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am planning to start my own Japanese green retail company in Singapore.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Student Life Representative

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  Our program only started in January 2021 so we have not even finished our first academic period yet.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I increased the international sales by over 40%, roughly US$367,000, by leading the sales team to visit 20+ countries, encouraging online client information and task sharing, and redesigning corporate website and e-commerce platform. Being able to contribute to my family legacy meant a lot to me.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose to come to INSEAD because of 1) its global network and 2) strong presence in Asia. These are important for my family’s and my own business to grow in the future.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Hyunjin KIM. She looked into every classmate’s background and successfully leveraged that to facilitate the class discussion and illustrate her points.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Master Strategy Day was my the most memorable experience at INSEAD. It highlighted the INSEAD’s high academic standard, professional network, and global resources. Each group was asked to come up with a strategy recommendation for an actual global NPO within a few hours by applying the concepts we learned in class. This helped us bridge the gap between theory and practice. To facilitate this process, each team received a help from a consultant from Bain & Company. Furthermore, INSEAD used VR to enable students to visualize the situation in Nigeria,

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I should have set specific goals for my business within a certain timeframe and monitor the process closely in the last two months. If I had done so, I feel like I could have better leveraged the INSEAD’s opportunities and resources.

What is the biggest myth about your school? It is a myth that INSEAD is a party school. Many students, if not all, are very engaged in class, take academics seriously, and care a lot about learning from the peers.

What surprised you the most about business school? It would be how truly diverse my classmates’ backgrounds are and yet we are very academically and socially inclusive

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I explained my career goals explicitly and how INSEAD will help me achieve them while illustrating how my experience will allow me to contribute to the class.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Grace Han. She had her first baby just a couple months before the MBA program. While I am still struggling with time management, Grace seems to be doing a fantastic job.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? We did not experience this at INSEAD Singapore campus. We have been having face-to-face interactions with over 40 students in each classroom and this is one of the reasons why I chose Singapore as my home campus and decided not to defer my enrollment.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Keima Ueno, my ex-colleague from Morgan Stanley. He was my mentor and he talked a lot about how his MBA experience enriched his life and career and I was inspired by him.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Start my own company in a foreign country by leveraging my family’s heritage
  • Save my dying tea community in my hometown

What made Toru such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021? (

“Toru brings diversity to his classmates in terms of professional achievements and career objectives: he is an entrepreneur in his green tea family business with a strong global orientation and a former successful career in IB @ Barclays and Morgan Stanley. He displays a strong sense of community, willing to revitalize the green tea community of Japan through business operations transformation and global network expansion. Toru has a collaborative mindset, intercultural communication and mediation skills which made him a deserving applicant for the Admissions Committee.”



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