Meet Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2019

Richard Si 

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less:  A proud Canadian, avid ice hockey and volleyball player, and self-proclaimed comedian (emphasis on “self-proclaimed”)

Hometown:  Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m a cultural mess. My folks are originally Chinese, but I was born and raised in Canada for eight years. We then moved to Beijing for 10 years, where I attended an international school with over 50 nationalities represented. I don’t know which country is closer to being home for me, but I did come out of it with three languages under my belt!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Notre Dame, Finance

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  • Lunessence Winery & Vineyard – Chief Financial Officer
  • Madison Dearborn Partners – Private Equity Associate
  • Deutsche Bank (Global Industrials Group) – Investment Banking Analyst

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: A few years ago, my family bought an old winery in British Columbia. Our team was missing a financial team member, so I stepped in as its CFO to make investment decisions and help build out our financial reporting function. It was an incredible experience applying my academic and professional experiences in a completely new (and fun!) setting. I had zero knowledge of the wine industry, so almost everything I did was a new learning experience for me. It has been a blast working with my father (CEO) and Michal (our incredibly talented winemaker) to take what was essentially a start-up venture and turning it into a successful business.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Keep your head up. Business school applications take a lot of work, and maintaining a good attitude through all of it is sometimes the hardest (and often overlooked) part. Sometimes, things won’t go your way, whether it’s a late night, a crummy test score, or tough news on Decision Day. But don’t let these temporary pains taint the energy that you put into your GMAT, essays, and interviews! Find a friend, colleague, or family member that you can lean on for support. Your hard work will pay off one way or another – eventually, you’ll look back on all the tough times and know it was all worth it.

In the same vein, lift your head out of the weeds during the application process and really ask yourself what you’re looking for in an MBA program. All MBA programs are fun, challenging, and exciting, but each one is unique and tends to focus on different things. So do your research! Take a look at what academic experiences every school has to offer (majors, classes, studying abroad), see what social life is like on campus (student clubs), and what other activities (KWEST!) interest you the most. Some of these may be difficult to glean off a website, so take the time to visit campus if you can. If you can’t make the trip, I encourage you to talk to both former and current students. Take notes and compare what different people have to say. The more perspectives you can get, the better informed your decision will be. Don’t forget, these life-changing years are all about you, so pick a school where you’ll get the most out of the program both academically and personally.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? In pursuing an MBA, my biggest goal was finding a program that would not only help me learn more about business, but also challenge me to develop stronger teamwork and leadership skills. I put a lot of time into figuring out which school would bring these two things together the best, and Kellogg was the clear winner in the end.

Almost all business schools have specific majors to help guide your academic journey, but Kellogg’s pathways offered an interesting way to “bring it all together”. For those of you who haven’t researched it yet, Kellogg offers seven pathways focused on specific areas of business (e.g., Real Estate, Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital & Private Equity). Each pathway is structured with courses across all of the academic majors, and students can pursue any number of pathways to any depth they like. With the long lists of courses that schools offer, I was worried about having an academic experience without a sense of direction. However, Kellogg’s pathways presented a clear and structured course path that combined all perspectives of business. Over the next two years, I’m planning to pursue the Data Analytics and Growth & Scaling pathways to explore how businesses can leverage big data to make better-informed decisions around growth and profitability.

The other aspect I loved about Kellogg’s academic experience was its focus on teamwork and student culture. I was always told that business is about people, so I wanted to find a program that would challenge me to become an effective team player. When I went through applications, I had the fortune of being able to speak with several people (teachers, students, and alumni) about Kellogg. Almost everyone I spoke to had only great things to say about Kellogg’s students: team-oriented, collaborative, and most importantly, fun. At Notre Dame, everyone was smart and driven, but never made it a point to step on other people’s toes. Everyone helped each other out, both inside and outside the classroom. I loved being in this type of environment, because it not only motivated me to do well, but also gave me the opportunity to become close friends with some of my classmates. I figured the academic rigor of all the business schools I applied to was roughly the same, so I decided to pick a school where I would have the most fun and have the opportunity to learn the most from my fellow classmates. With the next two years ahead of me, I’m hoping to once again thrive in this type of learning environment and make some great friends while I’m at it!

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Becoming a more well-rounded individual. I applied to business school because I had spent my four years out of college working exclusively in finance, where I only had a few opportunities to practice my public speaking and teamwork skills. At the end of my first year at Kellogg, I hope that I will have expanded my knowledge of other business functions, become more confident in public speaking, and developed into a better team player.

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