2017 Best MBAs: Tiffany Yu Chia Chen, Columbia Business School

Tiffany Yu Chia Chen

Columbia Business School

“Energetic girl who knows how to make dreamers become dream makers.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Tainan, Taiwan (R.O.C)

Fun fact about yourself: I cannot live without Coca-cola, and Pepsi is not a substitute.

Undergraduate School and Degree: National Taiwan University, B.A. in Finance

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? (List Company and Role)

  • Cash Equity Sales Assistant – UBS
  • Marketing Executive – Giorgio Armani Cosmetics, L’Oreal Group
  • Business Development Specialist – Each Other Films

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? (List Company and Location)

  • Warner Bros. (Summer 2016), Los Angeles
  • Creative Artists Agency (Summer 2016), Beijing
  • FilmNation (Spring 2016), New York

Where will you be working after graduation? To be decided

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Media Management Association: Co-VP of Careers & Education
  • Greater China Society: VP of Alumni Relations
  • Career Fellow (selected to advise fellow students on career management process)
  • Co-President of Chazen Study Tour on Asia’s Arts, Media and Entertainment Industry
  • Pangea volunteer consulting project for GATHER Fellowship in Cyprus,

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During the winter break of my second year, I organized a study tour themed around Asia’s Arts, Media and Entertainment with two of my classmates. Working in the film industry, I’ve always believed that media has the greatest power to facilitate mutual understandings between different cultures. However, the understandings of East and West remains superficial as of today. We took 30 fellow classmates from different parts of the world, mostly interested in media industry, to visit Seoul and HK and learn more about the culture and industry landscape there. It is incredibly rewarding to help them explore various aspect of media entertainment in East Asia throughout the trip and will bring these takeaways with them to embark their future journey. I believe this is a great way to help future collaboration within the media industry.

It is also a unique experience to view the culture I’m familiar with from an outsider’s perspective, allowing myself to think deeper about my own culture and their history background.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Starting my own film production company and talent agency in Beijing. We focused on working with and developing young directors and writers with both China and U.S. experience, as I believe they will be the new force of film industry in the future – bridging the two biggest markets and facilitate mutual understanding. I’m proud of this not just because we started to get positive attractions when two of our film projects got selected into Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and Project Market at Golden Horse Film Festival (The biggest and most prestige film festival for Mandarin film), but more because of the fact that I stepped out of my comfort zone and embraced what I truly what to do. I’ve never imagined myself to be an entrepreneur and now I’m one of the co-founder of a company! It’s stressful but I enjoy it every moment!

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Personal Leadership & Success – None of us is perfect. My biggest takeaway from this class is that you have to accept who you are and acknowledge the part of you that you may not like in order to become a better person. Moreover, there is a structure approach for you to practice how to become a better version of you on a regular basis. Understanding this helps me to be a more efficient and more compassionate leader and team member that I hope can take my accomplishment to the next level.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Columbia Business School for two main reasons. One is because of the great resources it can provide. Columbia not only has one of the most esteemed MBA programs, but also has a top film school in the States. Not only could I develop my business acumen and leadership skill, but also cultivate my creative sense through classes I can take at film school. Moreover, being in NYC is a great way to see the intersection between finance, media and culture.

The other reason is the people at CBS. I had a great time talking with all the CBS alumni and students when I applied. When they described their experience, it was all very positive for forward-looking, making me want to be part of the community and continue to spread the positive influence.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Spending time with my school friends from different cultural background and talk about what makes us who we are today, as well as what we want to achieve in the future, what interested us recently.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be true to yourself, know who you are and what you want to get out of your business school experience. There are so many opportunities in front of you to develop your skills, meet new people, and practice your leadership ability. Choose your forte and be firm with it, but step out of your comfort zone a bit. It is okay that your goal may evolve throughout your time in business school, but always remember what is your key objectives at business school.

 What was your biggest regret in business school? I did not have time to explore South America (It takes more than 24 hours to travel there from Taiwan!)

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Rayhan, a true leader, who is super smart yet comfortable to be around with. During a trip, Rayhan took initiative and arranged group dinner bookings for the entire cluster so we had quality time to get to know each other better every night and that really helped building a great experience for all of us. Moreover, his enthusiasm and energy to learn new things and explore new culture always surprise me and go beyond my imagination.

 I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that in order to help the film industry in China continue to grow, there is a need for people with different functional expertise to devote themselves into it. And when I realized I will be a better business person than a director or a writer.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working on film projects that I’m interested in and pitching stories all day long.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Try to get more space for MBA students to hang out or have group discussion on campus. (I know this is super difficult because we are in NYC and this might change after we moved to a new campus in upcoming years, but sadly I wouldn’t be able to experience that.)

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Run my own film investment fund and help filmmakers to tell all kinds of stories that can inspire people around the world.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family and my friends who encouraged me along the way. I did have doubts in myself when I gave up lucrative compensation package to step into film industry They were always there to encourage me when I thought about quitting. They gave me all their support and share their confidence in me which I sometimes might not even have for myself.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Tiffany is a kind and positive person to be around with.

Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin (yeah pretty cliché)

Favorite movie or television show: The Sound of Music

Favorite musical performer: A-Mei (a Chinese singer, equivalent to Beyonce here I would say)

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere that I can spend quality time with friends and family

Hobbies? Karaoke, playing cards & mahjong.

What made Tiffany such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Tiffany has distinguished herself as an invaluable member of the community and a great inspiration for international students.

Tiffany entered Columbia Business School (CBS) knowing that she wanted to pursue a career in film entertainment industry. Transitioning from the finance and consumer goods to the film & entertainment industry. Tiffany demonstrated tremendous drive and persistence as she pursues her dream. During her own job search, Tiffany showed her creativity to uncover hidden resources, with a process aiming to build long-term relationship instead of gaining short-term rewards. As a result, she secured two summer internships with Creative Arts Agency and Warner Bros. Entertainment, and will continue to pursue opportunities where she can leverage her experience and talent in bridging a collaboration between Hollywood and the growing market in Asia.

I came to know Tiffany well through her intrinsic effort in supporting students in their own career search. Besides being the Career Representative for her cluster, her ability to manage relationships and confidential matters with her classmates while demonstrating a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy also led to her selection to the Career Fellows Program, a high-profile CMC leadership initiative that employs and trains second-year students to provide career management skills, advice and support to classmates. Not only does she provide tremendous help for students interested in the media industry, but also a great mentor for international students who are looking for opportunities working in the US. Her own experience of landing several internships in the US, as well as the ability to adapt different working cultures, are both valuable assets to all international students.

The Career Management Center, and the broader CBS community, have found working with Tiffany a great pleasure. Her enthusiasm in the media industry, her sincerity in helping people, combined with her passion in bridging different cultures will definitely make her a great leader in the future.”

Jennifer Merchant
Senior Associate Director, Career Management Center
Columbia Business School

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