Kevin Watanabe, Executive MBA '15

Bringing Ethics to Business from Here

“I reached a point at Apple where I couldn’t realistically go further in my career unless I had a higher degree like a master's. That’s why I chose to continue my education at USF.”

Kevin Watanabe, Executive MBA ’15, wants to change the world by making business more ethical and sustainable.

While working at Apple, Kevin Watanabe wanted to move to the next level of his career but realized he lacked the educational credentials.

“I reached a point at Apple where I couldn’t realistically go further in my career unless I had a higher degree like a Masters,” he said.

Watanabe made some drastic changes, by enrolling in the Executive MBA (MBA) program at the University of San Francisco (USF) and leaving Apple to work as a Senior Finance Manager for consumer robotics startup Anki, Inc.

USF’s culture was the deciding factor in Watanabe’s choice.

“I think of USF as a company. When you join any company, the culture is going to be the most important thing that defines your work experience,” he said. “At USF, all the people I’ve met have been helpful and resourceful. Being surrounded by a diverse range of skill sets, backgrounds and ethnicities really increases the quality of your learning experience.”

Watanabe found that working full-time and taking his daughter to school every day, while earning his degree was a challenge, but was able to make it work thanks to the program’s consistent schedule.

“It’s tough,” he said. “But if you manage your time well and if you’re able to be flexible with your work schedule, you can get by. It helps that USF’s EMBA schedule is very predictable, so I know I’ll be at USF from Thursday to Saturday once a month, and I can schedule my work hours around that.”

Watanabe credits the program’s global perspective with opening his mind to how people do business around the world.

 “Classes in Global Business and Strategy have taught me so much about cultural competence,” he said. “Growing up, I went to Japan a lot, but didn’t know much about the rest of the world until I joined the EMBA. We went to Latin America for our Global Project and when you see how people live and do business there, you truly appreciate how to effectively work with other cultures. You won’t experience that unless you get out of your seat and out of the U.S. and do in-person research.”

Ultimately, Watanabe doesn’t just want a successful career; he wants to make a positive difference in the world and leave the world a better place for his daughter.

To me, what set USF apart from other MBA programs are the skills you don’t get at other schools. It goes beyond simple management skills, incorporating deep knowledge on leadership, innovation, sustainability and how you can make a difference in the world. I would say that you gain a real sense of enlightenment.

“My daughter is going to be growing up in whatever world we create now. I think it is important to do good business by keeping society and the environment in mind as we move forward. It’s great to make money and achieve personal success but at the end of the day, those achievements die with you. If you want your impression to last, you have to give back,” Watanabe said.


Executive Master of Business Administration