Tomoko Kurabayashi graduated in 2008 after studying Economics.
After graduating, she moved back to her native Japan. Since then, she has built a fascinating career as a news and sports anchor interviewing and reporting live across the nation.
Tell us a bit about your time at Essex
I studied Economics and lived in Wolfson Court for the whole time I was at Essex – my flatmates were amazing and just as diverse as the University is. I loved it. I have so many fond memories of my time there – studying late at night in the kitchen with my flatmate fuelled by coffee and chocolate, visiting my Essex friend’s home in Germany and spending New Year’s together, singing in a big hall as a choir society member, recruiting new students to the Economics society during Welcome Week, my mother wearing a kimono at my graduation – so many lovely memories. I’m actually still in touch with some of my friends from Essex, they even came to Japan a few years after graduation!
What did you do after graduation?
I went back to Japan and joined a local TV station as a reporter in the political and economics department. I worked my way up to become a news and live sports anchor, where I spent two years interviewing a huge range of people and reporting the news live.
Wow, that must have been really exciting!
It was – but challenging too. I interviewed sports personalities and CEOs from famous companies around the world which was fun. I needed a lot of time to prepare, but I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot from them about management philosophies.
Every day was different – I’d go out to cover stories in the morning then come back to the office in the afternoon to write scripts before reading it in the night-time news. I remember being on a talk show with the Manchester City football team in Tokyo - I didn’t expect to meet the UK football team in Japan so that was really memorable for me. Another great experience was being the economic caster in Nikkei CNBC Japan where I was the interviewer in a special programme of Nikkei Global Management Forum.
And where has your career taken you at the moment?
I’m now the Media Outreach and Relations Consultant in the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Essex really equipped me with some great skills for this role – particularly in developing my international sense and ability to work in a diverse culture, as well as my language skills. My role is to approach Japanese media to write or broadcast about us and raise awareness. I organise interviews and establish relationships with different stakeholders
I’m the only IFAD member working in Japan now and we plan to open a liaison office here so I’m trying to make it happen as smoothly as possible. At some point, I’d love to undertake postgraduate study in either development or journalism.