MBA Students Pursue Goal Of Family Business Management

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The journey for Miho Nakayama and Dakota Flick to Dominican University of California’s MBA program was quite different, but their goals are very similar. They want to learn skills to help them take over their family’s business.

“I have been with the business my entire life,” says Dakota, who grew up in Marin County, only minutes from the Dominican campus. Dakota’s parents, Larry and Kelly, opened The Floor Store in 1986. Dakota now works for the family business, which has grown to nine locations throughout the Greater Bay Area. 

“I’ve always been interested in how businesses function. The Floor Store always seemed like magic to me growing up. Where do you source the materials? How do you raise the money? How do you get customers through your doors? I've learned a lot from watching my parents grow the business, but I want to learn more. That’s where my motivation comes from.”

Miho shares the same motivation as Dakota, which brought her to Dominican from Japan.

“My curiosity and my quest for a challenge have been guiding my life for as long as I can remember,” Miho says.

Miho grew up in Shizouka, Japan, southeast of Tokyo. Her father, Yutaka Nakayama, founded a business, IMS Co, Ltd., an expert company in slitting paper carrier tapes and embossed carrier tapes. But Miho, at the age of nine, was more interested in following her brother Shota’s footsteps. He was competing in judo. Miho eventually attended Tokai University where she majored in international studies and joined the university’s Judo Club, which Miho says was No. 1 in the world at the time. She taught judo in Scotland, Mongolia, and Indonesia and a Tokai professor suggested she go to the United States to be a judo instructor.

It was while talking with her host family in the U.S. about accomplishing her dreams that Miho realized her dream was her family’s dream.

“I have seen my parents confront many obstacles while doing business. Running a company is not easy in a competitive global business market. Now, my goal is to improve the company and take over as my father’s successor along with my brother, who studied business in Japan,” Miho says.

“I want to learn business and management skills in the U.S. to make the company stronger and succeed worldwide. It is important to acquire an MBA to gain the knowledge and skills needed to achieve this goal, especially strategic management techniques, negotiation skills, and effective communication skills. Dominican University of California has concentrations in global business, which are connected to my dream directly.”

Miho’s host mother connected Miho to Dr. Yung-Jae Lee, Dean of the Barowsky School of Business. Miho met with Dr. Lee on the Dominican campus. This was the first time she had visited San Rafael, even though she lives in Albany across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Miho discovered that Dominican MBA’s in-person/online hybrid curriculum was conducive to her continuing to coach judo while studying.

Dakota, who lives near the Dominican neighborhood, knew all he needed to know about Dominican’s MBA program.

“I’ve been aware of Dominican for a long time. I have always known the Barowsky School of Business is a fantastic business school, and that was confirmed with the recent AACSB accreditation,” Dakota says. “It was a word-of-mouth thing.”

Dakota and Miho met when they attended their first MBA class in Room 306 of Guzman Hall in late January. There were 43 students, including some who were taking the class virtually.

“I have to look things up in the dictionary a lot, but everybody is super supportive,” says Miho who has completed English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. “There is a lot of teamwork.”

That’s ideal for Dakota. During Dominican’s Adult Degree Completion (ADC) program, he was promoted to a management position in the family business. The MBA program was the next natural step for him.

“What I’m really focusing on and really passionate about is understanding how employees function in the workplace,” Dakota says. “As it stands right now, I’ve been a managing a team for about a year, and I want to continue to further understand how to manage large groups of people and being the best leader I can be.”

In the meantime, Dakota, in his free time, continues to produce electric music in the Bay Area as his creative outlet. Miho, who was a top Judoka in Japan, remains committed to judo in the U.S. She is focused on teaching to youth and has helped developed some U.S. champions.

“I have learned so much through Judo. For example, I have acquired greater control of my thoughts, engaged in team building, and learned the importance of courtesy and respect,” Miho says. “I’m interested in team building. I have been doing judo for a long time, almost 20 years, and judo is also important in building a team. I can see a connection to business.”

Miho’s immediate goal in Dominican’s MBA program is to apply to Optional Practice Training (OPT) to gain work experience in the U.S. then decide when she wants to return to Japan to join the family business.

“The short goal is to get internship and the long-term goal is to get knowledge,” she says.

Dakota has a master plan as well with a master’s degree.

“I want to graduate with my MBA and re-enter the business refreshed and make some big changes within the company,” he says. 
“The long-term goals are helping my parents manage the business. I’m already on a management team now and I’m very fortunate and grateful they have trusted me with this position, but I want to continue to learn and to grow.”

Photo above of Miho Nakayama (left) and Dakota Flick

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