2018 Best EMBAs: Michael Sumida. Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Michael Sumida

Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management

Age: 40

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Devoted Husband, Doting Father, Techie, Foodie, Math Nerd, Artist, Small Business Supporter, Soli Deo Gloria

Hometown: Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Family Members: Julie (wife), Micah (son), and Julia (daughter). Ron and Lilly Sumida (parents). David (brother), Wendy (sister-in-law), Talin (nephew). Mariko Sumida (paternal grandmother) and Iris Kaneshiro (maternal grandmother).

Fun fact about yourself: My dream is to be a contestant on Chopped.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, BA Biology

Where are you currently working? I am currently employed at Sharecare as a Senior Business Relationship Manager.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I am a Vanderbilt E. Bronson Ingram Scholarship Recipient. My wife and I sing in the church choir and I intermittently tutor high school students in math.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the project my team did for our “Launching the Venture” class. It was the first time we really had to synthesize and apply what we learned across the curriculum to a singular problem. Actual venture capital investors voted on the projects, and we came in second place.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my professional career, there have been three instances where I was called upon to develop a new product or service for our company. All three were “firsts” for the organization that went on to become fairly successful endeavors. It gave me great pleasure to build these programs from the ground up.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Mümin Kurtulus. He fundamentally changed the way I perceive and interpret the world around me.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Operations Management. Due to limited experience, I had a very narrow view of what operations was. Through this course, however, I have come to appreciate what operations could be in a data-driven organization. It has opened a whole new world for me.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I selected Owen because of its strong alumni network. My professional network has grown immensely because of connections made through the school.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The most enjoyable part of business school has been weekly meetings with my C-Team. They have become like family to me.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson for me was learning what strategy is and, perhaps more importantly, what it is not. In the workplace, this meant stopping activities that did not contribute to our competitive advantage.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? It’s not so much a singular story as it was finding a daily rhythm. I try to be home from work between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., so we can have dinner together as a family. I’ll put the kids to bed by 8:30 p.m. and spend the next two to three hours on schoolwork. Taking a page from our Macroeconomics course, balancing the three is not unlike the impossible trinity of a fixed exchange rate, capital mobility, and independent policy.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth for me was that everything you needed to know, you’ll find in a textbook. Turns out, the greatest learning happens through class discussion and bouncing ideas off of one another.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had put more effort into some of the earlier courses like Accounting and Finance. I got by fine, but I did not learn as much as I could have.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I really admire my classmates who are going through the program with young kids. It’s a real sacrifice spending so much time away from family. There have been countless missed sports games and recitals.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized it was my best shot for creating opportunities for my kids.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…enjoying my Saturdays. I barely remember what a weekend feels like.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I’d like to start my own business. The tricky part is figuring out what that business would be.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope my peers remember me as someone who cared and made their life just a tiny bit better.

Favorite book: The Sleep Easy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack. A must read for new parents.

Favorite movie or television show: Star Wars (everything except the prequels)

What are the top two items on your bucket list? My wife’s side of the family is from Brazil, so I’d like to spend some time there. I’ve always wanted to see the Kremlin in Moscow.

What made Michael such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Mike Sumida is an accomplished operations, technology, and analytics leader. He has been an incredible contributor to our EMBA cohort and is recognized by his peers as extraordinarily creative and hard-working. Mike brings in a unique perspective, maturity, diversity and a sense of humor to the learning environment. It has been a pleasure to have Mike in my operations classes, where he provided numerous examples drawn from his extensive operations experience and brought real-world relevant issues into the discussion. I particularly enjoyed his unique sense of humor and clear thinking. He is very well respected by his team members. They refer to him as “the ultimate utility player” who is able to fill in any role necessary on the team. His peers praise him for his ability to aggregate, synthesize, and visualize complex data. His academic excellence coupled with his ability to silently lead his cohort makes him one of the Best and Brightest of the Owen’s Executive MBA Class of 2018.”

Mumin Kurtulus

Associate Professor of Operations Management





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