2016 MBAs To Watch: Jeffrey Lyu, UCLA (Anderson)

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Jeffrey Lyu

UCLA Anderson School of Management

Age: 28

Hometown: Campbell, CA

Education: University of California, Los Angeles (BAe Political Science; Johns Hopkins University (MSEd); University of California, Los Angeles (MPP)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Baltimore City Public Schools, third- and fourth-grade teacher (through Teach for America)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Microsoft (Redmond, WA)

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, Los Angeles – Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: VP of Education – High Tech Business Association; Social Innovation Conference Director – NET Impact; Director of Outreach – Entrepreneur Association; Outstanding Student Award – Strategy; Outstanding Student Award – Operations & Technology Management; UCLA Anderson Fellowship Award; teaching assistantships for core statistics (2 years) and strategy classes, and elective strategy class; Program Advisory Board member – UCLA UniCamp (community nonprofit)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I led a few interview prep teams for students looking to get internships in technology and consulting. We would learn how to think about and approach all types of interview questions, practice them, and oftentimes meet 1:1 to do mock interviews. It was a lot of work for everyone involved, but it was rewarding to see my classmates’ development over the weeks, and then to see that hard work paying off. Everyone supported each other when they came up short and celebrated the success when it came. I was happy to be able to teach what I could, discover new approaches with them, and help set up a comfortable space to learn. I’m proud of the teams and their accomplishments, and am glad I could play a role.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I guided my students to high levels of math and reading performance as a teacher in Baltimore, but it was their personal growth that most inspired me. I’m proud that I was able to create a fun, safe, and rigorous culture in my classroom. By the end of the year, I had reignited a love of learning and a sense of curiosity in all my students. I’m also proud that I always thought the best of my students, their families, and their community. I understood that I was a guest in their world and that I had so much to learn from them. My students and their parents had power and agency, and I was their partner in learning. Teaching reinforced a sense of respect and humility when working with others, and it’s something I try to take with me in everything I do.

Who is your favorite professor? I honestly do not know how to answer this question. There have been a number of professors who have shaped my learning and experience at Anderson. They’ve opened up new opportunities for me that I never expected to have and I am forever grateful to them all.

Just some who come to mind: Elisa Long (Data and Decisions), Philip Leslie (Strategy), Derek Alderton (Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation), Tom Wurster (Insight to Outcome), Jason Snyder (Tools and Analysis for Business Strategy), and Andres Terech (Marketing Strategy and Planning).

Favorite MBA Courses? As I mentioned above, there were too many classes and professors that I feel are responsible for my development.

However, my first non-core class, Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation, set the tone for my MBA experience. Professor Alderton demanded a level of performance that I struggled to even attempt to meet. It was because of these high expectations, however, that I was pushed to learn and grow faster than I thought possible. By the end of that quarter, I started to feel like I could hold a candle (albeit a small one) to my classmates. Professor Alderton’s standard is something I apply to everything I do now, as well.

Why did you choose this business school? There were so many reasons.

First, I was a nontraditional applicant, so I knew that I would need help making the transition in terms of getting prepared in the job hunt. The Parker Career Management Center at Anderson seemed to give me the individual attention and structure (and hopefully patience) I would get at a small school — with the reach of a large school. They were everything I expected and more. If it weren’t for Parker CMC, I would not be where I am now.

In the end, it was the people. I felt comfortable being myself. Sitting in the courtyard and watching the students, it was clear that they were happy here — you could see smiling and hear laughter everywhere. The people at Anderson are smart, accomplished, and talented, but they are humble. I have never felt intimidated (challenged, yes, but that’s a good thing). I always felt welcomed and accepted.

Also, Los Angeles itself. It’s such a dynamic city, you can literally find anything you want here. The weather is pretty good, too. Does any other business school have a surfing club?

What did you enjoy most about business school? This is a cop-out from a former teacher. I enjoyed all the learning. I felt empowered to explore while I was here. Beyond the classes, there were so many opportunities to be exposed to new ideas by attending talks, seminars, and conferences. There was also experiential learning. Through working on my own venture and helping a friend with his, I not only better understood the joy and challenges of entrepreneurship, I also gained a better understanding of myself as a leader and team member. Finally, I learned from my classmates. Their backgrounds and experiences were so different from mine. The interactions and exchanges with them broadened my viewpoint from not only a professional standpoint, but also a personal one.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? Be genuine. I learned to be confident in who I am. There’s no need to try and fit a mold, because it’s the unique things about you that set you apart and make people gravitate toward you. I used to think that the business world was a cold, hyper-rational place where the only things that mattered were the numbers. Though the numbers may be the foundation, the way messages are communicated and the relationships that exist between people drive decisions to a large degree as well. If you’re not genuine in the way you present yourself, those messages and relationships will always feel strange for some reason, making everything else more difficult.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was surprised by how much fun it was. The nerd in me truly believes that group work and learning in the classroom was legitimately fun. But, we also put together incredible flag football teams, dressed up in ridiculous outfits, performed slightly embarrassing dance routines, saw so much of this city (and country, and world), and shared laughs and random nights out with great people.

What was the hardest part of business school? Time management. This is the most efficient answer I can give.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Come and visit. Sit in the sunshine and people-watch. Count the smiles and listen for laughs. There will be plenty even when people are working. When you ask students about their experiences here, take note of how often they use “we” as opposed to “I.” Then, if you like what you see and hear, consider how you will contribute to and sustain the culture at the school.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I realized the impact that smart, socially conscious business could have on the communities in which I worked.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… trying to find a way to get into business school.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Geoffrey Canada, president, Harlem Children’s Zone. He’s dedicated his life to improving opportunities and outcomes for disadvantaged communities and approached the problems in an innovative way. The organizational transformation he’s helped bring about and the way that he has done it are not only inspirational, but provide lessons that are applicable in any context.

What are your long-term professional goals? I would like to eventually start a social enterprise that helps revitalize and empower disadvantaged communities. In the meantime, I hope to be able to work on things that have a positive impact on society and our world.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents. They instilled a set of values that have shaped the things I’ve done and the way I’ve done them. Through their hard work, I got every advantage and opportunity I could think of — and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about how fortunate I am.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve hiked or camped in 23 U.S. national parks, and traveled over 6,000 miles by train.

Favorite book: A Hope in the Unseen, by Ron Suskind

Favorite movie: Inside Out

Favorite musical performer: Third Eye Blind

Favorite television show: The 2016 Golden State Warriors and “Scrubs”

Favorite vacation spot: Iceland

Hobbies? Biking, dancing, playing any sport involving a ball

What made Jeffrey such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“This is an interesting nomination for me because I don’t actually know Jeff personally, but I feel like I do. Since late fall quarter, I have been hearing about this wonderful Jeff and how he helped students prepare for Microsoft interviews. From what students tell me, Jeff has gone above and beyond in helping students in this preparation. He shared great background information on Microsoft and used his clearly excellent teaching skills to get them beyond the basic canned answers to interview questions. He made them think about every question before they answered it, and he made them understand the company and how they fit the company on the whole as well as the specific roles to which they applied. They didn’t just give trite answers. They allowed the interviews to blossom into conversations and idea exchanges and thoughts on technology generally and on specific technologies in particular. He made the interviewers and interviewees human. He is who made them successful. I find this particularly intriguing considering that although he had a successful summer at Microsoft, he decided to re-recruit to a different industry altogether.

“At that, he received one of the most coveted offers at BCG. I also love that he did this while not just obtaining an MBA but also a master’s of public policy, and this is after he received a master’s of education. When I think of someone who is a prize for a career services office, it is Jeff, for his ability to understand that change isn’t easy to accomplish, but for his willingness to pivot from one role to the next until he got where he wanted to be. It is clear that he was a great teacher before he ever came to business, and I believe that there are classes of students that will remember Jeff as their teacher. I know that we will do the same for how he helped us effectively and successfully train our students.”

Regina Regazzi
Assistant Dean and Director
Parker Career Management Center
UCLA Anderson

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