2018 Best MBAs: Jason Liu, MIT (Sloan)

Jason Liu

MIT, Sloan School of Management

Husband, Canadian, consultant, life-long learner, obsessive hobbyist.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Fun fact about yourself: I have driven flat-out on three race tracks (and hope to add to this number!).

Undergraduate School and Degree: Queen’s University, B.Com

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Senior Associate Consultant @ Bain & Company, recently returned from externship @ Uber

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Senior Management Associate @ Bridgewater Associates, Westport CT

Where will you be working after graduation? Consultant @ Bain & Company

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President, Sloan Christian Fellowship
  • President, Sloan Volleyball Club
  • Founding member, Octant Technologies (octant.io) and DeepBench (deepbench.io)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During my time at MIT Sloan, I was on the founding team for two startups: Octant Technologies (driving data for autonomous vehicle development) and DeepBench (disrupting knowledge brokerage through technology). With these two startup vehicles, I had the privilege of participating in the gamut of entrepreneurial programming offered at MIT: Delta V Accelerator ‘17, MIT Fuse ‘17, and Sandbox Innovation Fund. Bar none this has been the greatest knowledge-expanding experience during my time at business school – breaking several of the bad intellectual habits I had entrenched as a management consultant (e.g. knowing what you don’t know; you don’t know until you try). Both startups remain a going concern and are generating earnings.

On a personal note, these two years have been awesome as my wife is also a grad student at MIT. The flexibility of our schedules has allowed for us to invest time and grow in our marriage.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While on externship from consulting, I had the opportunity to serve as an Operations Manager on the global launch team for Uber EATS (Uber’s first standalone app from the core business). Given a 4-month runway, I was tasked to write and operate Uber EATS’ comprehensive support playbook, serving restaurants, eaters, and delivery partners. Additionally, I trained and managed a team of 10+, with whom I operated the entirety of the support product.

In this experience, I was most proud of the impact, depth, and trust I was able to develop with the EATS team as an outsider. As the lead for support, I reported directly to the General Manager and worked closely with engineering leads and UI leads. My final deliverable was a successful training and transition of our support infrastructure from our launch city of Toronto to Uber’s Center of Excellence in Chicago, where the additional capacity would be used to support the aggressive launch of an additional 10 cities. EATS currently operates in 100+ cities.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My vote would have to go to Leigh Hafrey. Leigh is an accomplished lecturer who tackles some of the most engaging and sensitive topics offered at MIT Sloan. I’ve had the pleasure of being taught by Leigh in both Leadership Stories (15.269) as well as a seminar on management ethics. Leigh is a master at facilitating discourse in a healthy and mind-expanding way, using the authentic experiences of our peers to guide our learning. Through his teaching I have become more capable in communicating my personal values and more aware of their foundations.

Why did you choose this business school? First and foremost, it was family decision to choose MIT. I saw that Sloan offered an environment for me to develop in an interdisciplinary fashion within a culture that would constantly provoke me to evaluate my career direction. Specifically, I came in with a passion for entrepreneurship and “making”. My peers are bright, humble, and have deep and diverse interests. They are authentic and do not back down from holding me accountable to my values. Coupled with an open-minded administration, I feel that MIT Sloan trains leaders that will not be constrained by our current paradigm of management.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be authentic: write about and speak to where your true passions lie (and hopefully, what you have the most depth in), no matter what the subject.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I’ve had a well-rounded experience and there are no big regrets. If do-overs were allowed, I would have spent more time with other faculties – Course 11 (Urban Studies and Planning) and Course 6 (Computer Science) in particular as I believe the next developmental frontier will be the city of the future. Additionally, I would have liked to develop deeper relationships with professors through participating in their research.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It would be remiss for me not to name my core team (in no particular order: Dan, Kaitlin, Clinton, Jannina, Isabel, and Tom). Business school was a time for maturing, and this was the team that made that journey all the better. I could go on and on about their accolades but what I appreciate most about this team is their dedication to family and friends, as well as to their individual passions.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I won’t be able to pin it on a single person…I think to my former self as naïve high school student, business concentrators seemed to be socially well-adjusted and had an air of “being in the know”. Perhaps it was just a big case of fear-of-missing-out. While I recognize that the end of high school could have been jettisoned me in a completely different direction (namely, engineering), I have no regrets; being confident that I am in the discipline that best matches my temperament.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…

Realistically: Continuing in consulting for a few more years.

Daydreaming: Managing a motorsports program / fabrication company

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? At MIT Sloan, given our diversity, we have a wealth of knowledge within the student body itself. I would like to see more formalized programming for student-led, faculty-supervised courses. At times, students exercise humility to a fault – administration and faculty should identify unique knowledge and skill sets within incoming classes and initiate the conversation to encourage students to share their experiences for the benefit of their peers.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

1)        Renovate a cottage for hosting our family, extended family and friends

2)        Competing in an amateur road racing series

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? It’s my hope that my peers will remember me as approachable and available, worthy of trust, kind-hearted, and principled in action.

What is your favorite movie about business? Although it is a dark story, Lord of War is one I always remember when recalling films that have left an impression on my young self. In a roundabout way, the movie opened my eyes to systems thinking well before I had the vocabulary to describe it.

What would your theme song be“Ooh Ahh (My Life Be Like)” – GRITS ft. tobyMac

Favorite vacation spot:The Cyclades in Greece. We spent our honeymoon in the Mediterranean and only had time to explore Crete and Santorini. I would love to go back to explore a few of the remaining islands.

Hobbies?The hobby that consumes most of my free time is working on my “track day” car. Ontario has a great environment for the weekend track enthusiast that I have come to exploit over the past several years. The rest of my time is filled with other weekend projects, travelling, and photography.

What made Jason such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

Jason’s portrait of his fellow MBAs captures them at their best: ‘Bright yet humble, articulate yet willing to listen, “in the know” yet willing to admit ignorance if it leads them to new learning, eager to explore and develop new possibilities for business success yet aware of the value of established institutional models.’ No surprise, Jason himself epitomizes all of these qualities. He consistently thinks well, recognizes the limits of his current knowledge as a first step toward acquiring more, experiments with entrepreneurial ventures even as he recognizes that supply chain and operations management and the hard science of engineering produce a fundamental and necessary expertise. He is also one of the most other-oriented people I have encountered in my classes at MIT Sloan: Jason always listens to others and builds on what they have said. They invariably return the favor (as they should), and when they do, Jason comes out with something drawn from his own experience, like his passion for track racing, with a smile that says ‘this is the ultimate,’ and you believe him. In a business school context, finally, his conviction that “our current understanding of business is not an immutable truth” expresses the essence of business enterprise, in part because it’s true, in part because it takes courage to say so.”

Leigh Hafrey
Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST: CLASS OF 2018