Meet UCLA Anderson’s MBA Class of 2019

Hoonki Hong 

UCLA, Anderson School of Management 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I am a dream chaser who lives in a real-world filled with numbers.

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Fun Fact About Yourself: During my service in the Republic of Korea Army, I was assigned to the Eighth US Army according to KATUSA program, which is a special agreement between Korea and the US to increase combined defense power in Korean peninsula by augmenting several thousand Korean soldiers to US Forces Korea.

Undergraduate School and Major: Seoul National University, BS in Computer Science and Engineering, Bachelor in Business Administration (Class of ‘08)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Deloitte, Audit Senior Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I led a consulting project to analyze expected impacts on the adoption of the new accounting standard for the largest savings bank in Korea. I developed a valuation model for impaired loans of the bank and surprisingly, discovered the impact would be around 30% of total assets of the bank. After careful review and meeting with my team, the Financial Committee of Korea decided to postpone the adoption of the new accounting standard by five years to prevent drastic change and to have savings banks prepare themselves. The Committee also realized the inappropriateness of the current valuation system of the savings banks industry and tightened up the capital regulation, which drove consequential restructuring of the savings banks industry for the following two years. It was one of my biggest accomplishments, not only because I helped build a valuation model for loans of a savings bank, but also because I contributed to deciding the nation’s policy. It was a valuable experience that helped me realize the social effect and social responsibility of my job.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? In general, I would take GMAT, and TOEFL for some applicants, as soon as possible. Writing essays is the most painful phase of the admission process, and you will never feel that the essays are well-prepared, no matter how long you have prepared them. You will have to invest much more time than you expected in preparing the essays. When you write the essays, I suggest you keep in mind three points.

First, one of the most important questions is, “Why an MBA?” You cannot spend too much time  pondering this question. It is important not only because the admission committees significantly consider it, but also because finding answers on such a question is a precious chance to look back on your life. Try to persuade yourself on why you’re doing an MBA before you try to convince the admission committee.

Second, do your research for why this school. Even though there is a lot of information that others have collected for you, you will have to build your reason why you want to join the school. Attend admission events and reach out to as many current students and alumni as possible. Ask them the philosophy and the culture of the school. Ask why they went to the school and what their best memory from the school was. The more you have personal contact with the school’s community, the more you can imagine your life at the business school. Find out why you want to be part of the community and show it to the admission committee.

Finally, set your post-MBA career goal carefully. Your goal is the key to your choice. Why do you want to sacrifice so many things to come back to school? Why are you abandoning what you have done so far? What you care about in your life? Ultimately, who do you want to become? Many of you will change your career goal during your MBA period after getting more information. However, learning diverse views, and understanding your needs will help you build the first draft of your career goal when you are applying. Take time and think again. Once you get an admission, you will see your life as an MBA candidate has already begun since you started preparing the essays.

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? I was an auditor. My job was to assure financial statements of companies so that capital markets function with reliable accounting information. I was a huge fan of accounting and liked my social responsibility.

Also, I began to think about my role. Even though I couldn’t agree more with the importance of auditing, I wanted to utilize accounting information rather than assuring its appropriateness. By broadening my view to the future rather than looking back on what a company did last year, I wanted to drive change. Since I have had several consulting experiences, I was able to realize how much I was eager to spend my time and efforts to be involved directly in creating values, especially in the investment industry.

Thanks to my interest in finance, I am a licensed CPA and a charter holder of CFA, but I found how difficult it is to overcome the entry barriers of the finance industry without relevant experience.  After graduating from her business school, my wife recommended that I go to a business school, not only because I would be able to get a chance to jump into finance industry with an MBA degree, but also because she believed  an MBA would provide precious opportunities for me to ponder my career and my life.

As such, I decided to apply to the MBA program, and I am going forward in my future with hope and confidence.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  One year later, I want to get a full-time offer from an investment bank in San Francisco at the same time that I complete my summer internship. As I came here to get a dream job, it will be a success that I get the job. However, there are more successes as an MBA candidate.

First, I want to be a leader. According to Ancona model (Ancona, 2005, p. 2), there are four functions of leadership: sense-making, visioning, relating and inventing. I am a leader of visioning. I want to improve my inventing skills and to become a leader who has an ability to realize the vision.

Second, I want to have a broad view of the business. I have focused more on quantitative factors. Something explained by numbers is my comfort zone. I will break the box, come out of the comfort zone, and learn to focus on qualitative factors as well.

Third, I want to share my success. Being an MBA candidate was small, but still a success that I have achieved. I hope to see many of you as MBA candidates who follow their goals.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  Success after my first year would mean that I have developed strong friendships with my classmates, formed a stellar team for the Capstone Project, and have a summer internship lined up with one of my favorite technology companies.

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