“Faithful composer of New Year’s resolutions. Moderately faithful keeper of resolutions.”
Hometown: Anchorage, AK
Fun Fact About Yourself: I was the Chinese translator for the USA men’s and women’s swimming teams at the Beijing Olympics.
Undergraduate School and Major: Scripps College; History Major, Chinese Minor
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Twilio, Global Business Development Manager
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I began working at Twilio in an entry level sales position, a role that was a funnel for new employees to gain insights into the business and ultimately move into more senior roles within the company. Early on, it seemed to me that the most exciting team was clearly Global Business Development, whose members traveled around the world meeting with new and existing suppliers and negotiating business deals worth millions. The team sounded exotic and important and, naturally, was populated by very experienced and knowledgeable people. I was not one of them. I had pretty much no relative experience or industry knowledge and no former business development rep had ever successfully made the switch. Nevertheless, I set my sights on transferring to that team. A little over two years later, I joined as the youngest and only female member of the department.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? If I had to choose one quality, I’d say my classmates are genuine. They’re also incredibly kind, interesting and bright. The rate at which you go from “strangers living in Hanover” to “of course you can borrow my car in the middle of the night” at Tuck is rapid. It’s a very close community and you feel buoyed by it from your first days on campus.
Aside from your classmates, 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 wanted to join an MBA program with a community that would extend long beyond the relatively short two years I would spend on campus, and the strength of Tuck’s alumni network is unparalleled.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? My “career” in politics had a tenure of just a few months—I recently served as the Deputy Finance Director for Alyse Galvin’s AK-AL Congressional campaign—but I enjoyed it so much that I’m most looking forward to becoming involved with Tuck’s Center for Business, Government & Society. I’m also excited about Glen Tuck, which is the whiskey, scotch and bourbon appreciation club.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I loved working for my former employer and was lucky to participate on different teams in different roles and even in different countries. I decided it was time to pursue an MBA because I feared that as I advanced in the company and took on projects with greater impact to our bottom line, I was on less stable footing personally. Coming from a liberal arts background, I felt that I didn’t have the strong foundation in the fundamental business skills that I need to provide significant value to a company and take on the high-level roles that I want to tackle later in my career.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Everyone’s personal financial calculus and priorities are different, so I don’t think my rationale for choosing an MBA is universally applicable. I felt strongly that I was unsure of my career path and that there was a knowledge gap between me and my professional mentors. Could these concerns have been resolved without pursuing an MBA? Yes, and probably for a lot less money. However, I felt that an MBA program would give me both the opportunity to explore other professions in-depth and acquire fundamental business skills in ways that I simply couldn’t while working full-time.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Reflecting on my past educational and professional experiences, I felt that I was happiest in relatively smaller communities, so school size was fairly important. While location is a high priority for a lot of prospective students, it wasn’t for me. I grew up in a small, very cold town (Anchorage, AK) and have lived in large cities in different parts of the world (Copenhagen, Singapore, Beijing, San Francisco), so I felt pretty confident I could make my way in rural or urban environments.
I lived in Singapore while I was applying so I wasn’t able to visit any U.S. schools during the application process. I researched culture by speaking to current students and alumni from each school. I think most applicants and current students will say that’s the best way to find out what a program is really like and if you’ll feel comfortable there.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My most character-defining moments have been personal and professional setbacks. The last year I worked at Twilio, I enthusiastically offered to relocate to our APAC headquarters in Singapore. Having lived outside the U.S. several times before, I didn’t think twice about what it would mean to start a job in a new country. To my and no one else’s surprise, it was a huge adjustment that came with a healthy dose of humility.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I hope to join a venture capital firm that has either an exclusive or significant focus on investing in women entrepreneurs.
Where do you see yourself in five years? It sounds cliché, but I hope that in five years I’m doing something personally meaningful that has a positive impact on the world. Where or what that might be is still up in the air.