By Kevin Manne
The School of Management’s 37,000 alumni enjoy tremendous success in nearly 80 countries around the world.
These alumni are driven to give back to the school in many ways, including mentoring, in-class presentations, recruitment, financial gifts and more — even from afar.
"School of Management alumni have a passion for helping students from the university they graduated from," says Wei-Loon Leong, MBA '05, UB's director of international alumni relations. "We see the difference it makes for our students to get an inside look at the companies and countries they visit."
Toshiya Kuroda, MBA ’88, studied at UB 30 years ago and has worked in real estate investment ever since.
Today, he's managing director at Oaktree Capital Management, an LA-based private equity firm in Tokyo.
This spring, Kuroda worked with the School of Management Finance Academy, meeting with Master of Science in finance students every two weeks via Skype to teach them to manage equity investments and navigate the risks involved.
Kuroda helped them develop pitches to convince judges to invest in their projects. He even spent a weekend in Buffalo to help refine the presentations in person.
"I didn't want this to be strictly academic," says Kuroda. "I wanted them to think and act like investment professionals and convince me to entrust them with my money."
There can be some challenges collaborating over a 13-hour time difference, such as pointing out specific examples in a spreadsheet file, but Kuroda says it's just another day in the life of the global economy.
"I find investment opportunities and present them to my boss in Los Angeles, so this is the same thing I deal with all the time," he says.
Kuroda says it was the right time to share what he's learned during his career with students from his alma mater.
"I've realized that knowledge is something to share, not just to make money for yourself," he says. "It would be gratifying if I could help the next generation succeed and achieve their dreams."
When Gayatri Dhumal, BS ’12, was an accounting student looking for a job, she used the school's MentorLink program to connect with School of Management graduates at the Big Four accounting firms.
MentorLink helps School of Management students contact alumni and friends of the school, who assist in career exploration and planning.
"It was amazing that all these places had a UB connection," says Dhumal. "I got great insight on how to present myself in interviews."
After graduation, Dhumal spent three months as an intern in the Advisory Department at Ernst & Young in Mumbai, India. She is now senior auditor in the Financial Services Office at the firm's New York office, and offers her international perspective on the mentor side of the MentorLink program. She says that as an international student, it was reassuring to have someone to talk to and she wants to provide that to current students.
"I remember talking to an accounting student who was considering switching to finance," she says. "I encouraged him to stick with accounting based on the strength and reputation of UB's program. A few days later there were on-campus interviews and he told me that most of the calls he received were because of his accounting major.
"That was the moment I realized the conversation we'd had really made an impact."
Since January 2002, the School of Management has sponsored an annual trip to China as part of the MBA "International Business Environment" course.
Students gain insights in the classroom into the history, culture and business environment of China and other regions and then have the opportunity to experience it all first-hand.
Sean Moskal, BS Engineering/MBA ’05, says his interest in working abroad ties back to when he visited China as an MBA student. He's originally from Buffalo, but is now senior vice president of international subsidiary banking at HSBC in Hong Kong.
Each year, Moskal hosts groups of School of Management MBA students at HSBC as part of the China trip.
"It's quite rewarding for me to be on the other side of the equation now and help arrange the meeting for the students," says Moskal. "It is tough to stay connected from so far away, but hosting this annual visit helps fill the void."
Eri Ota, BS ’02, is an information technology and networking specialist for Renault-Nissan Alliance in France, where she bridges information technology between the two strategically aligned automotive manufacturers.
Ota recently participated in UB's Virtual International Career Conversations event, where she and other UB alumni chatted with students online to share insights about living and working internationally.
"When I was studying at UB, I wanted to connect with businesspeople who had a real international background," says Ota. "Since graduation, I've worked in Japan and France, so I naturally wanted to share what I've learned through my IT experience in the automotive industry."
Yinchu Hou, MS ’07, senior manager of global procurement at Apple, also took part in the virtual conversations to help current students find their dream jobs.
"It was a highly interactive session where I was in two or three chat conversations at a time," says Hou. "I was glad students were curious about studying and working in China."
To learn more about how you can stay connected with current students and the School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/alumni.