Ken Ijichi is an MBA candidate for IMBA 2018 with six years of experience in developing and managing renewable & base-load power assets in Latin America as an investor/operator. He is a specialist in Project Finance deals. Ken is passionate about creating economic and social impact that benefits not only project stakeholders, but also the sustainable growth of a region or country. Ijichi, who is about to graduate, just got an offer from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and will be moving to Mexico in mid-August as he will start work on Sep 2, 2019. This denotes the beginning of a new post-MBA stage full of success for him, and we are proud of having him as part of our IE alumni & community.
How was your time as an IE student?
It was a fast-paced, exciting journey. I’m particularly happy to have met some incredible people from diverse backgrounds and to have gotten hands-on experience related to impact investing and social entrepreneurship.
What motivated you to apply for a position in IFC and to move to Mexico?
International Finance Corporation (IFC) is a private sector arm of the World Bank Group with a mission to eradicate poverty and distribute wealth more equally through financing the private sector in emerging markets. Ever since my first encounter with IFC, the mission-driven nature and the scalable approach to create development impact had appealed to me greatly.
After six years of developing, investing in, and managing Latin American power generation projects for a Japanese multinational, I felt it was time to pursue a role in which development impact was at its core. Naturally, IFC was my top choice.
In terms of location, I was open to relocating to wherever the job took me. In the end, IFC offered me a position in Mexico City. Having lived and worked there before, and Mexico being one of my favorite countries, I was thrilled with the outcome.
How you landed this opportunity even before graduating from the program?
I applied to IFC on two occasions. The first – the Young Professional Program – took place in October 2018, a month after the MBA program had started. Unfortunately, I did not get an offer for this.
A couple of months later, my contact at IFC Tokyo Office contacted me about an upcoming recruiting mission for Japanese nationals. Seeing this as another opportunity, I applied for a position in March, and luckily, I received an offer a few weeks later.
What will be your role? What is the next step in your professional career?
My role as Associate Investment Officer will be to identify business opportunities with development impact, structure and execute investment transactions, and manage portfolio projects in the Latin American region.
As I will be in the Infrastructure Department, there will be some similarities with my previous job. However, I believe the mission-driven nature and the diversity within IFC are genuinely unique. I look forward to working and growing professionally in such an environment.
What would you like to transmit to potential candidates that look up to you?
That if you’re passionate about something or if you have a specific goal, start taking concrete actions, no matter how small.
Not coming from a traditional finance background, I was not the typical IFC candidate. Fortunately, I knew this from early on. Feeling the need to differentiate myself, I started reaching out to IFC employees to get their feedback and advice. They helped me understand how much IFC values hands-on experience in emerging markets, so I quit work a few months before starting the MBA, and took on a 3-month internship at a social startup in Tanzania. Not only did this strengthen my CV, but it was also an invaluable life experience.
Sometimes, there are simply no shortcuts. But I feel that if you’re passionate enough, you can find ways to effectively connect the dots and bridge the gap in order to achieve your goal.
Which challenges have you faced?
In a one-year MBA program, some recruitment processes start only a few weeks into the program. As this was the case with IFC, it was a challenge finding the time and the tools to prepare efficiently and effectively.
How did your experience at IE during the IMBA help you to be part of IFC Mexico and to enter the work field successfully?
In terms of technical skills, classes like Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance were helpful to structurally learn the fundamental concepts. The IE Careers Finance Track, which provided financial modeling courses, were also useful to learn practical skills and to prepare for interviews.
As for interpersonal skills, because IE is such a diverse school, I feel it has equipped me to jump right in and to thrive in any diverse environment.
In your opinion, what was the role of IE careers to create the bridge and connection for the company recruitment process?
In my case, support from IE Careers was instrumental in getting an offer. Ahead of the first application for IFC, I contacted Ms. Shuo Xing, career advisor for International Development and Social Impact, to ask for her support.
Having in-depth knowledge and understanding of IFC and organizations alike, Shuo provided me with timely and relevant comments to my CV and cover letter. Also, she routinely organized on-campus events, including a company presentation by IFC, where candidates could engage directly with recruiters.
During my second application to IFC, after informing Shuo of an upcoming interview, she organized a mock-interview with an investment executive at a top-tier development bank. Needless to say, I received invaluable feedback in the session.
Personally, I am very satisfied with and grateful for the service that I received and hope that all future candidates receive the same comprehensive support.