Best of BEST | Doing Business in Asia

Topics: Life at Hitotsubashi ICS, Why Hitotsubashi ICS, Student Voice, MBA Program, MBA in Japan

Posted by Louise Lane Calicdan on Sep 6, 2023 11:34:51 AM
Louise Lane Calicdan
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Recently graduated, Louise Lane Calicdan, a Young Leaders Program (YLP) scholar from the MBA Class of 2022, shares her remarkable experience undertaking Doing Business in Asia (DBiA). The program was annually run by Hitotsubashi ICS, Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, and the Graduate School of Business at Seoul National University. Hailing from an arts and cultural background, she approaches DBiA from an interesting perspective. 


It was such a great opportunity to be able to conclude my Hitotsubashi MBA journey with my participation in the “Doing Business in Asia Program” in a tripartite partnership with Hitotsubashi ICS for the Tokyo module, Peking University for the Beijing module and Seoul National University for the Seoul module. The DBiA program aims to foster and enhance business relations between the three countries through the exploration of various unique business models and a deeper understanding of each country's economic landscape. This journey can be best shared through the following memorable insights:

Omotenashi in Action: The concept of “omotenashi” was the central theme of the Tokyo module with emphasis on the importance of performative acts of welcoming and receiving guests from an actionable mindset of being “one with the other” and “delighting the customer”. In business school, creating and fostering social networks is one of the cornerstones of business relations. In my DBiA experience, the spirit of omotenashi was performed by all participant institutions and individuals. Each University represented its modules well through well thought of modules and warm gestures that are sincerely appreciated by participants like me. Beyond the program, our classmates greatly exemplified omotenashi by acting as country hosts and personally ensuring that we were having the best experience in their home country. Showcasing the best of Beijing and Seoul was experienced through the warmest companies that we hope to turn into long-lasting relationships and friendships.

Tokyo Module Tokyo Groove
Tokyo Module: Hotel Groove Welcome Cocktails
Peking University
Beijing Module: Student Hosted University Tour at Peking University, Beijing, China
Cultural Tour at Summer Palace
Beijing Module: Cultural Tour at Summer Palace


Flavors of Ancient Culture and History for Global Cities: Throughout the three modules in Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul, one of the most important business insights for me is the key role of culture and history in understanding the business landscape of each country.

For the Tokyo module, we learned how companies, that have been in existence for centuries, invest in arts and culture as an essential business value for urban development. In a mature economy like Japan, the deeper cultural roots and values express themselves in its global culture. The entertainment industry and innovative business models that shape the kind of new urbanism envisioned by companies like Tokyu Corporation and Toho Leo redefine the urban landscape of the largest city in the world that is Tokyo. This kind of cultural perspective infused within the business framework creates a new kind of global city that is Tokyo – transcending the past and the future within its contemporary urban landscape.

The Beijing module by Peking University gave insight into the role of culture and social psychology that influenced the consumption behavior of one of the biggest global consumer markets that is China. The proliferation of e-commerce, gifting culture, and the role of demographics in shaping the economy were significant insights into understanding the Chinese market. Experiencing the actual society by coursing through the EV-populated roads of Beijing and walking through the busy market at Tiananmen Square after class hours were a real-life experience of the kind of merchant culture that the Chinese civilization, over thousands of years, shaped world trade. It was also a personal delight to visit Pop Mart, a company whose main asset is intellectual property within the creative industry leverages on creative ideas as their main business framework. Microsoft Beijing was also one of the visits that made me feel how Beijing, too, is one of the ancient civilizations at the forefront of technological advancement at present.

Our journey concluded in Seoul, the K-Pop capital of the world, which established its global identity through the creative industries and homegrown brands such as Samsung. Cultural immersion both in the academic space and through cultural activities such as Hansik allowed us to know Korea beyond popular culture. How historical ties and geopolitics affect corporate governance as well as the private corporation’s relationship with its government contributes to the kind of business landscape present in the country. Part of the Seoul module is also a company tour in one of the biggest cosmetic and beauty brands in the country, Amore Pacific, where we learned about global market positioning for an Asian brand. The DBiA program literally ended in the sky when we visited Seoul Sky, the skyscraper that they call the “pride of Seoul”, which fortified Korea’s best practice in nation branding – including the SuperM instructional videos on Korea Air’s in-flight instructions.

Tokyo Module: Shibuya SKY
Tokyo Module: Shibuya Sky Real Estate Tour
Seoul Module: SNU Classroom
Seoul Module: Classroom Sessions are also Fun! The cohort with Prof. Chang
SNU Merch
SNU Merch Game Strong!

Learning about the specific industries that emerged in each city and experiencing it in action gives a holistic understanding of its economic landscape. As a student of commerce, the DBiA program provides a comprehensive and profound insight into the emergence of trade within a society. This valuable experience granted me the wisdom of renewed insight into what makes certain businesses thrive in specific social environments. I am thankful to all the institutions that supported the program, including Tokyu Corporation and Toho Leo who supported Tokyo’s DBiA cohort. It was both a pleasure and an honor, to be part of this program, as one of my core memories in my Hitotsubashi business school journey.

7 Seoul Sky

Postcards from Seoul Sky - ending the journey in the sky!

Louise Lane Calicdan LinkedIn photo


Louise Lane Calicdan

Recently graduated, Louise Lane Calicdan, a Young Leaders Program (YLP) scholar from the MBA Class of 2022 shares her remarkable experience undertaking Doing Business in Asia. A committed and spirited cultural manager with over ten years of experience in development work in arts and culture in the Philippines. As one of the young leaders shaping culture, she leads her team of inspired creatives, together with industry partners, in shaping development programs for Philippine visual arts and the creative industries. As an educator, she co-creates an innovative learning environment together with the art managers of the next generation. She obtained her bachelor's (magna cum laude) and master's degree at the University of the Philippines under the Art Studies Program.




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