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August 30, 2011 12:54 pm

Ten Questions - Christina Ahmadjian

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Christina Ahmadjian

Christina Ahmadjian: "There is power in numbers"

Christina Ahmadjian is the second dean of Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy in Japan. Her tenure began in April 2010, making her Japan’s only non-Japanese woman dean. Prior to this, she worked at the school as a professor, teaching courses in organisational behaviour, corporate governance and business research.

Ms Ahmadjian began her studies in the US, where she grew up. She has an MBA from Stanford University and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business, where she focused on organisational behaviour and industrial relations.

1. What does it mean to be a dean?

Never having time off - there’s always a research project to start or to finish, a new course to create, new people to meet. I can’t imagine life otherwise, though a few days of vacation would probably do me good.

2. What academic achievement are you most proud of?

Getting the highest grade in my town on a sixth grade French test, when I was in fourth grade. I knew then that I wanted to spend my life learning languages and exploring the world.

3. What is the best advice ever given to you?

Don’t listen too much to others’ advice. Find your own way.

4. What is the worst job you have ever had?

Washing ashtrays as an office lady in a Japanese company.

5. What advice would you give to women in business?

Although things are much better than they used to be, it’s still not a level playing field. Don’t take things personally and don’t get discouraged. There is power in numbers and we need more women in MBA programmes and boardrooms.

6. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?

In Japan, I’m considered a foreigner first, and no one really notices that I’m a woman. Sometimes I remind people and they look surprised.

7. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

Take things less seriously.

8. What is the last book you read?

Rebel Land: Among Turkey’s Forgotten Peoples by Christopher de Bellaigue.

9 . What is your life philosophy?

Live outside my comfort zone. If things are feeling too easy, it is time to move on.

10. What are your future plans?

Master taichi, get another PhD in environmental science and open an organic farm and taichi centre.

Compiled by Charlotte Clarke

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