2018 MBAs To Watch: Jingjia Zang, University of Chicago (Booth)

Jingjia Zang

The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“American-educated Chinese leader seeking to change the world through the energy industry.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Zhengzhou, China

Fun fact about yourself: I spent my spare time in my first two years out of college learning how to ride a horse.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Tulane University, B.S. Finance and B.A Political Economy

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Trader at Phillips 66

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Chevron in San Ramon, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Chevron’s Finance MBA Development Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Admission Fellow – Interviewing Team

Booth Energy Group – Co-chair and marketing lead for Energy Forward Conference

Houston Career Trek Co-organizer in 2016

Chicago Booth First Day Neighborhood Captain

Random Walk Austria Hungary Leader

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Receiving a thank you note from a first year Boothie that I helped to coach through the recruitment process is my proudest extracurricular achievement at business school. As a second-year student and an Energy Group co-chair at Booth, one of my most important jobs is to help and guide the first-year students as the second- years before me have done for my class. Her note made me feel like I have continued the pay-it-forward culture and made a positive impact on her time at Booth.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of becoming the youngest trader at Phillips 66’s trading team in Houston at the time. As a minority female trader, I shared my experiences with and encouraged other young professionals I met to pursue trading as a career.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Ozan Candogan. His energy is contagious. He makes operations management fun and easy to follow.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course is Taxes and Business Strategy with Professor Ira Weiss. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of taxes.  I used to think taxes are black and white, but this course made me understand that there is a lot of planning behind the taxes paid by corporations every year.  Effective tax planning is as critical as having efficient operations within a business unit. Suddenly, there are more things to consider in making business decisions and taxes could make or break a deal.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Booth because of the community.  Booth students and alums showed me the pay-it-forward culture during my application year as I was exploring different schools. They made every effort to make sure I was knowledgeable and comfortable during the process. The best thing from my six years of experiences at ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 is the people, and the people are the single most important criteria in my career search. After experiencing the pay-it-forward culture from Boothies, it was easy for me to decide the best school for me.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Reach out to Boothies at information sessions, on-campus visits, or via Linkedin requests. We are as excited about you as you are about us. Making the connections will not only help you to learn about Booth, but also get you an early start in networking for your MBA career.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that we are a finance school. I have definitely taken more finance classes than most, but I have so many friends who never want to do anything finance-related. They spend their quarters taking marketing, entrepreneurship, or economics classes. You could have a variety of interest completely unrelated to finance and still find yourself having an amazing time at Booth.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret in business school was not taking part in Random Walk as a first year. I was admitted in Round 3 and had missed the deadline for Random Walk application, so I decided to do something on my own. I realized what an amazing bonding experience it was during orientation as people talked about their trips. I made sure I applied to be a second year Random Walk trip leader halfway through my first year just so I will have an opportunity to experience it before I graduate.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My fellow second year student Ariel Patton. She always has a smile on her face whenever I see her and is one of the most genuine and kind people at Booth. She is passionate about the food and agriculture industry. I hope as the world population continues to grow, we will have people like Ariel to help us find a way to feed the world sustainably.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? One of my mother’s high school friends inspired me to pursue business in college. I was 9 years old when I met her, but I knew I wanted to study business and become someone like her when I grow up. She was the CEO of a state-owned company in China. She was confident, successful, and outspoken. As a little girl growing up in China, I struggled with idea that girls should strive to be lady-like – soft spoken and unambitious. My mother’s friend inspired me to be more and I followed her footsteps into pursuing business in college.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…helping my mother to plan her next business venture.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would ask professors to host quarterly small group dinners with students, so the students would have a chance to get to know the professors outside of the classroom in a comfortable and familiar setting. I love the alum dinners, first year/second year mixers, and Booth Insights gatherings because they bring the Booth community closer. I think having small group dinners with the professors would help to further build our community.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Go on an African safari and live in a Mongolian ger for a week.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as someone who is loyal and kind.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Big Short. I learned that sometimes even if you are right, it might take the world a long time to come to your conclusion and you have to be really determined to hold on to your position until they do.

What would your theme song be? “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. It is a classic and upbeat. It makes me smile every time I hear it.

Favorite vacation spot: Meteora, Greece

Hobbies? Cooking, hiking, travel, walking dogs

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

“What impresses me the most about Jingjia is the comfort with which she walks toward really difficult challenges that lie in front of her. Before Booth, Jingjia was a trader on one of the largest oil trading floors in the US. She has a deep background in the petroleum industry, yet she sees her Booth MBA as the opportunity to continue building her career within the energy value chain. Jingjia has said how much versatility and culture matter to her, and I’m so pleased she’s found that here at Booth.”

Stacey Kole

Deputy Dean for Alumni, Corporate Relations and Full-Time MBA Program, Chicago Booth