Sherrie Taguchi

Assistant Dean and Director of the MBA Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business

In many ways, Sherrie Taguchi is the face of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. The author of a regular column in the GSB corporate-relations newsletter, Taguchi offers insight, advice, and thoughtful warnings to thousands of MBA students a year.


A survivor of Stanford’s MBA program herself, Taguchi spent nine years working in the human relations field with BankAmerica, Dole Packaged Food, and Mervyn’s Department Stores, where she concentrated on global recruitment, management development, organizational change, and new product introductions. “I love the intellectual firepower at Stanford,” she says, “This is an environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork, risk-taking and innovation.”

Jump These Obstacles
From my perspective as a Stanford MBA (1989) and a senior manager at Stanford for the past 5 years, I believe there are three obstacles facing first-year students:
1) Many new students don’t give themselves time to step back and think about what it is they really want to do with their career.
2) Everyone needs to acclimate themselves to student life again.
3) Students must choose strategically how to spend their time given the plethora of opportunities (courses, clubs, jobs, speakers, etc.) at business school.

Explore Before Orientation
The Stanford GSB provides resources on academic preparation over the summer and before school starts. Our Intranet resources, which appear on a specially created Web site for students who have been admitted to the program, include a space for book suggestions from faculty as well as information about pre-enrollment courses for international students and anyone seeking quantitative preparation. In addition, it explains our “pre-term curriculum,” which is taught by faculty and includes about 12 summer sessions covering areas like ethics, managing through mutual agreement, and modeling and analysis.


In the non-curricular dimension, students have access to the MBA program administration, student orientation committee members, and Stanford representatives who can answer pre-term questions. Aside from our formal orientation, key groups such as the Career Management Center, Management Communication Program, Student Affairs Office, and Computing Services Department offer separate orientations to help the students understand the resources and expertise available at school.

Just Do It
Be ready to work hard but have fun. Be open to encountering a diverse group of people, experiences, and perspectives. Be willing to take responsibility for an incredible amount of learning both inside and outside the classroom. Also, try to remember the bigger picture — life beyond your MBA.

Just Don’t Do It
Don’t alienate staff, cohorts, and others by acting arrogant, being overly demanding, or having an entitlement attitude. Don’t neglect to follow up on what you say you will do with or for recruiters or study groups, club team members, etc. Don’t think you know it all and have little to learn from the richness and diversity of your colleagues. Don’t take lightly the studying, academics, and learning. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or share your feelings with others. Don’t overextend yourself with too many extracurricular and social activities early on. Don’t focus on summer jobs too early without exploring many possibilities.


Keep This in Mind

  • Life is short; work hard but have fun
  • Friendships developed at B-school are a great source of sustenance during the program.
  • Take responsibility for gaining new knowledge and skills to build your repertoire.
  • Keep your eyes and mind wide open.
  • Do what you love and love what you do.
  • Serendipity can bring some of the best opportunities.
  • Learning can come from mistakes and failures.
  • People make the biggest difference.
  • A team comprised of people from different backgrounds. with different skills and perspectives will always outperform one that is too homogeneous.
  • B-school broadens your horizons and expands work-life opportunities.
  • You REALLY do use and apply what you learned in B-school.
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