Sophia University

Academics Alumni Interview

Shannon Hirai, ’00
Executive Director
Sales and Trading Technology Production Management for Asia, Morgan Stanley

After high school, I had the opportunity to travel to, and live in, many countries around the world. I did this for about nine years. During that time, I visited Japan – a country that I came to be very attached to. In 1996, I made a life-turning decision to return to America and pursue a college degree. After completing a two-year Associates Degree at Bellevue Community College my husband and I decided to move to Japan. I began looking for universities where I could pursue my Bachelor’s degree, and was introduced to Sophia University and the FLA/FCC. It was ideal for me, as it offered a degree in the field I was interested in (Economics), and it offered courses in English.

After completing my degree in International Business and Economics at the FLA/FCC in 2000, I went on to job hunt in Japan. As a transfer student I was foreign to the job-hunting process in Japan and felt very lost. I knew I was interested in Finance, so I applied as a lateral hire to positions at various firms. Unfortunately I didn’t make very good progress. However, when I used the internet to research what other opportunities existed, I came across a seminar for New Graduate hiring at Morgan Stanley. The introductory seminar and several interviews led me to a role in the Technology Division in 2000.

I am currently responsible for Sales and Trading Technology Production Management for Asia. Prior to that I was part of various support and integration teams. Coming out of the FLA/FCC program, I never would have imagined for myself a role in Technology, especially as I had very little technical knowledge to begin with. But I went in to the role with an open mind, was very willing to learn, and I was prepared to work hard to attack that steep learning curve. I’ve since learned there is no top of the curve! Even 12 years later, I find myself still on that learning path.

Looking back on my time in the FLA/FCC, the opportunity to study with other multicultural and multilingual students contributed to the well-rounded education I received. My own experience from travels and living abroad made me aware of what it means to live in an international setting, but the opportunity to gain insight from other students – in particular hearing how others approach practical and theoretical topics – really helped me look at things from different angles and gain insights into different perspectives. Such experience is crucial to success in international companies, and has certainly helped me succeed in my own career.