2018 Best MBAs: Jay Kiew, University of West Ontario (Ivey)

Jay Kiew

Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario

A life-long learner who does his best and leaves the rest to God.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve cartwheeled in front of landmarks like the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, Angkor Wat, and the Great Wall of China, in 17 countries! Because of my history with cancer, I really wanted to encourage others to make the most out of their lives by seeing the world and being goofy by cartwheeling as they did it. Instagram: @cartwheelproject

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of British Columbia, Major in Political Science and Minor in Commerce

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Prior to Ivey, I worked at ADP for four-and-a-half years as a Senior Manager in Cross-Border Human Capital Management. In that role, I was responsible for helping our large American clients expand internationally, consulting on Payroll, Benefits and HR Compliance.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Not applicable – Ivey is a one-year full-time MBA program

Where will you be working after graduation? I’ll be starting at Deloitte in September as a management consultant in Deloitte’s Human Capital practice, specifically on their Strategic Change team. What’s most exciting about this opportunity is the chance to help companies navigate difficult changes in their organization.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Ivey MBA Association
  • Volunteer, Habitat for Humanity
  • Ivey Excellence Scholarship
  • Dean’s Honor List
  • Board Member, Do What U Luv Foundation

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? When the program began, I found out that it had been multiple years since the Ivey MBA program had run a student-led leadership conference. The obstacles seemed vast, as I was inundated with rumors that it would be extremely difficult to find top-notch speakers, let alone secure adequate funding (as most conferences cost upwards of $100,000). While running for class president, I enrolled our class on the vision that we could create the first student-led leadership conference at Ivey.

Because leadership is about creating the space for others to grow, I felt that it was necessary to create a team that would bring this vision to life, while giving them the freedom to take ownership and make it their own. Barely six months later, the Ivey MBA Association and the Leadership Conference team (Beckie Thain-Blonk, Mourad Soliman, Danny Chow, Derek Cheung, Mehek Mansure, Maanasa Rayavarapu) successfully held the Launchpad Leadership Conference, bringing in Cynthia Cooper, the corporate whistleblower who had the courage to expose the Worldcom fraud, and Steinthor Palsson, Landsbankinn’s CEO who worked tirelessly to rebuild Iceland after its 2008 financial collapse. The reason I’m so proud of this event is because it wasn’t created by me as an individual, but that as a class, the Ivey MBA 2018s stepped up to create something out of nothing.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was always afraid of public speaking, so I decided to face my fear by joining Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping you improve in front of a live audience. I invested seven years into the organization, honing my speaking skills every week through countless hours of deliberate practice. When I was 22, I was just starting out my career and at that age, I became the world’s youngest Distinguished Toastmaster. I’m really proud of this achievement because it really reflected the ability to effectively communicate. Being able to speak well in public had a huge influence on my sales career and led to me becoming the #1 producer at ADP Canada three straight-years in a row.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? As someone who started the program with a liberal arts degree, I was scared to death of financial modeling. My favorite professor was Wayne Adlam, who had a huge role in helping me climb through my steepest learning curves. Throughout his courses, Core Finance and Private Equity, Wayne held high expectations for his students to show up to class prepared with a model.

One of the most encouraging moments in the program happened during a Core Finance class, where we were supposed to do an IPO valuation for Spinmaster. Despite working on my model for hours, I wasn’t confident about my numbers, so when Wayne revealed a National Bank analyst report that was a spitting image of my discounted cash flow model, I felt a huge boost of confidence! That led me to focus on multiple finance electives throughout my MBA, despite my background in human capital management.

What was your favorite MBA Course? – See above.

Why did you choose this business school? There are two main reasons I chose Ivey: the case method and the alumni network’s culture.

While I was exploring my options, Ivey’s case-teaching methodology differentiated itself from every other business school in Canada right away during a “First Class On The Road” event. The case method forced me outside of my comfort zone by requiring me to state my opinion, back it up with facts, and be okay with being wrong.

The Ivey Alumni Network, on the other hand, blew me away with its “Pay it forward” culture. Barely a week after I had been accepted into the program, I was introduced to 17 alumni in Vancouver who were all ready and willing to grab coffee with me. Considering that these alumni were all working full-time and had graduated over five years ago, I was really impressed with their generosity.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?

A lot of university recruiters are looking for you to be yourself, which a lot of people struggle with, given the high-pressure nature of the interview. It’s really easy to tell when people aren’t being genuine because they lack specific details. My advice would be to make your answers as specific as possible by including names, numbers and dates. For example, “I was really inspired by Mark, my Big Brother mentee, because when we would play basketball at Parksview High, he would always invite people on the sidelines to join us; Mark really taught me the concept of empathy.” Bringing specifics into the conversation allows you to show that you’re human and not just another resume.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth we heard was that it would be difficult to network with professionals because Ivey is located in London, ON. I think that because we have a strong alumni base, we have huge edge on networking with the right people. Because of this, location doesn’t have a huge impact on our ability to properly connect with professionals in different industries.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Laura Hunter is one of the most amazing individuals in our program. Although Laura initially came across as quite introverted, she showed courage by applying to be our section representative. Over the course of the year, Laura continuously surprised me by standing up for her opinions even when it wasn’t the most popular decision. She also always showed kindness to make sure that we held an inclusive culture. With a class population that has over 30 countries of citizenship and 24 different languages spoken, that wasn’t always easy!

 Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad, who was not only blind, but also an international DJ, had a huge influence on me. He would always say “There are many things that are impossible for a blind person – you can’t drive and you can’t become a surgeon. Beyond that, you should have no excuse to let your God-given talents go to waste.” He lived out those words by being an amazing DJ, interviewing superstars in the 80’s like Stevie Wonder and Toni Braxton. Later on, he ended up building his own business from scratch.

When he passed away in 2005, I really wanted to follow in his footsteps by making the most out of the opportunities in front of me. I had always been attached to the idea of getting an MBA, but wasn’t sure that I was good enough to get in, given the competitive landscape and low acceptance rates. Although it took me a while, I finally made it!

 If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…writing a book for my future son on the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from my mistakes.”

 What are the top two items on your bucket list?

1. Become a member of the Century Club

The Century Club is a traveler’s club where membership is granted on the basis that you’ve traveled to more than 100 countries in your lifetime. Because it’ll take a lifetime to achieve, I love the steady, yet consistent aspect of taking the time to see a new country each year; it’s the culmination of many, many journeys. As someone who loves to explore new cities, I feel like the Century Club membership is the perfect bucket list goal!

2. Publish a book similar to “Tuesdays with Morrie” or ”The Last Lecture”

The hardest thing about being a cancer survivor is not the idea of dying, but finding yourself in remission, facing the possibility of losing the ability to do what you once could. At the age of 3, I was diagnosed with retina blastoma and lost my left eye to cancer. Although I was half-blind, I was privileged with mostly good health throughout my childhood. At least, I thought I was healthy until my world almost collapsed shortly after my 15th birthday when my ophthalmologist found another tumorous growth in my only good eye. My biggest fear that day quickly became losing the ability to see the world.

Since then, I’ve been in remission and have done my best to proactively seize every opportunity that comes my way. I’d love to share my story one day to encourage readers to soak in the present.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Two words: All-In.

What would your theme song be?Macklemore” – Glorious

Favorite vacation spot: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Hobbies: Squash, beach volleyball, long-distance running, board games

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

“Jay has made multiple contributions to the MBA Program at Ivey, from being an active contributor in class to being active in the community through “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” and Habitat for Humanity, all while being the class president. However, his greatest contribution has not come from what he has done, but who he is.

Jay is a generous, caring and thoughtful leader. He cares deeply about his classmates and their experience here at Ivey. He is happy to step back and let others lead; never one to steal the spotlight but instead eager to let others take their time at center stage. Jay has worked tirelessly to ensure that every student feels at home at Ivey: every culture is celebrated, every interest is given time and attention, and every student is permitted to pursue their passion. When setbacks occur, Jay is willing to offer a sympathetic ear and then will cheer you on to your next challenge. Jay has been an outstanding example of what makes the Ivey experience so unique.”

David Wood

MBA Program Director


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.