Born in Denver, Colorado, raised in Japan, Kuniyuki Furuta comes to IMD by way of Africa where he worked as an aid worker for the Japanese government. He aims to boost entrepreneurship by promoting an educational programme that raises self-awareness that in turn fosters sustainable business and creates jobs, preferably in Africa.

Kuniyuki Furuta is the recipient of an IMD MBA Future Leaders Scholarship.

Professional profile

After obtaining his Bachelor in agriculture from the University of Tokyo, Kuniyuki joined the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) - the world's largest bilateral aid agency in terms of the budget - and headed out to Africa, first in Burkina Faso and, more recently, as Deputy Resident Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Experience and convictions gained

During his eight years as an aid worker, Kuniyuki came to realize the importance of total conviction in one’s own potential, and the need for alliances.

“I encountered (in Guatemala) the reality where people who could not even imagine what they were capable of, gradually built up self-confidence by accumulating extremely modest successes and ended up changing the whole community. What was critically important was the conviction in one’s own potential. “

To create job opportunities and foster a better environment for entrepreneurs in DRC, he set up an innovative support structure created by an alliance between JICA, a national vocational training centre, a private micro finance institute, and a national agency for the small-to-medium enterprises.

“Although each organization had a different mandate, the alliance was formed using my clear plan and vision. I was able to get their support without resources or political power because I was aware of each organization’s values and succeeded in uniting them under a shared vision.”

Coming to IMD

Kuniyuki turned to IMD when he realized that his desire to contribute to disparity eradication required sustainable business solutions.

“As I will dive into the business world from the public sector, IMD’s intensive program meets my expectations to acquire broad business knowledge.”

Furthermore, during his time managing the DRC JICA office, Kuniyuki had become aware of the need to strengthen his capacity to influence, involve and motivate others.  IMD’s program for leadership development through direct peer review was exactly what he was looking for.

“During a leadership exercise, I actually totally failed to employ and exert an effective leadership style. It was a real eye opener.  Today, acquiring a leadership skill in a powerless situation is one of my biggest challenges.”

Other reasons contributed to his choice of IMD:

-          A small class size that allows for “exhaustive interaction”;

-          A diverse and mature group of classmates that contribute to better self-awareness: “Thanks to this diversity, our class has a truly broad pattern of team dynamics, which creates a perfect environment to train our leadership skills”.

-          The high level of engagement of the candidates during his campus visit, which made him feel that IMD was the right fit.

Kuniyuki points out that the complete immersion into such an intensive program is very challenging and requires fast growth. He therefore advises future candidates to come well prepared, especially those who choose IMD for leadership, as he did.

“Analyse your skills objectively and try to clarify where you stand, because it’s easy to lose focus once the workload gets great.”

Creating an educational program to expand potential

“My ultimate professional goal is to create a world where one can have a total conviction in one’s own potential and to facilitate this process as a profitable business. Based on this strategy, I will launch a new educational program that directly approaches peoples’ self-awareness and this business will create a new market where its model will be disseminated by the many entrants who will expand the social impact of the business.”

Kuniyuki’s project is to return to Africa, but this time in the capacity of a solution provider who has the ability to combine business incubation, SME development and adult education, the very reasons he came to IMD.

“Every day new knowledge, new frameworks, new points of view and challenges are brought to us at IMD.”