Donor Spotlight

Michio Aoki (APU Alum)

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Michio Aoki (APU Alum)

APU had a visit from Mr. Aoki Michio (Class of 2005 spring), the contributor to our “Nameplate Donation” fund. Mr.Aoki had a conversation with Pro Vice-President & Executive Dean Yokoyama.
We also asked him to share some of his experiences from his student days and from his current job.

Q1: Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to contribute to the Nameplate Donation fund and what the motivations behind your donation were.
A: While I was a student, APU’s distinctive international atmosphere was never something I really took the time to appreciate. But then after graduation I began to frequently visit foreign countries for business trips and travel, and once while travelling abroad visited a friend from my APU days. Although it was just one friend I was visiting, a number of APU graduates from the area and surrounding countries all got together and came to visit me while I was there. We all reminisced about our student days and talked about what we imagined for our futures, and ended up having a wonderful visit. Now in 2015, exactly ten years after graduating, I’m finally realizing the importance of APU’s unique atmosphere. I also want to make an effort to stay connected with APU students, alumni, and professors and staff, which was another one of my reasons for donating.
Q2: What were your reasons for coming to APU?
A:Ever since I was small, I remember always having had a half-formed dream of becoming the head of a company someday, which meant that my preferred faculty at university was either commerce or business management. As a high school student I spent one year studying abroad in Canada, and when I returned home and the time had come to decide on my future path I was told that “they’ve built a university on top of a mountain in Beppu”. Half of the students, teachers and staff were from abroad, close to half of the classes were held in English, and on top of that they had the business management faculty I was looking for. For me, who had long had a vague dream of becoming the head of a company, this was the best environment imaginable. As soon as I looked into it, APU became my first choice of university.
Q3:How was your student life at APU and in Beppu?
A:Going to school at APU in Beppu wasn’t a particularly drastic change in environment for me, since I had been in Beppu ever since early elementary school. To go off topic slightly, I started at APU after spending a year studying abroad in Canada, and frankly, I came in with the attitude that I was a hotshot when it came to English. Soon after beginning classes, however, I was quickly disabused of that notion! I was one of APU’s second batch of students, who started the second year after APU opened, and at that time most of the domestic students had experience studying abroad. With the English ability I had gained after only a year or so in Canada, I couldn’t even begin to compete with the other students. I have vivid memories of studying frantically to keep up.
Q4:Which experience from your student days at APU stands out the most in your memory, and what did you learn from it?
A:During my time as a student I became close with international students through classes and seminars. These friendships now span national borders, and remain strong today. My major was finance, and Professor SUZUKI Yasushi’s seminar class, where we studied international finance and financial institution theory, had a particularly strong effect on me as I was deciding what path to follow in the future. I still have close friendships with my seminar professors and other teachers, and treasure these as relationships that I’ll value for the rest of my life.
Q5:Tell us a little bit about your career path from after graduating from APU up to the present.
A: Since my major was finance, after graduating from APU I started work at a regional bank. When I started I was mainly in charge of corporate loans and carrying out financial reviews of businesses when they applied for financing. But after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, financial upheaval in the corporate world brought many small and medium-sized businesses to the brink of financial collapse. From the standpoint of conventional business practice, it would have been difficult to help these companies in any meaningful way. So on the last day of February, 2010, I quit my job at the bank, and on the first of March, 2010, I founded my own management consulting office: Asia Pacific Management. The name of my company is taken straight from the name of my faculty at APU! And with that I fulfilled my dream of managing my own company, and have helped all sorts of small and medium-sized businesses revitalize and improve their management.
Q6:How do you enjoy your current job?
A: I feel much more fulfilled in my current work than I did during my time as a bank employee. In general I’ve had good success in moving companies along according to my revitalization plans. Occasionally, the only alternative to bankruptcy becomes drastic company restructuring, including large-scale employee layoffs, which means that my recommendations and guidance have the potential to cause people unhappiness and may even bring about bankruptcy. Of course, I tailor my revitalization plans to individual businesses in order to avoid such outcomes. In the end, I can’t even begin to compare my current job to my previous one at the bank in terms of how rewarding it feels, and at the same time how much pressure I have to bear. I’m only just now recognizing that this is what it means to run your own business.
Q7:In closing, give us a message to share with current APU students.
A:The message I want to share for the Nameplate Donation is “Find purpose, the means will follow”. I am an example of this: with only a firm purpose, I was able to found my own company. The ‘means’ that I had originally envisioned for managing my company and revitalizing businesses is completely different from my actual ‘means’. Only my purpose has remained unchanged from the start. If you have a firm, unwavering purpose, and equip yourself with the right knowledge and expertise, you’ll be able to find the means to succeed. For the most part, you’ll look back on the failures of your student days and laugh one day. As you gain experience, you’ll arrive at your own formula, or ‘means’, in order to fulfill your purpose and you’ll make fewer and fewer mistakes. Because of my own regret at not having actively sought out experiences like this in my own days as a student, this is the message that I want to leave to all of you who are still at APU.
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