Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and McCormick School of Engineering (MMM Program)
“Easily excitable data fanatic who deeply believes in the power of human-centered business and technology.”
Hometown: Cerritos, CA
Fun Fact About Yourself: After college, I joined the Innovation team at Safeway, which was a team that designed and launched new private label brands. One of my most memorable projects was a takeover of the deli section for Open Nature, where I was tasked with tasting and evaluating more than 300 different dips in only two hours. I may have succeeded, but I’ll never touch an artichoke dip again.
Undergraduate School and Major: UC Berkeley, B.S. Business Administration
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Williams-Sonoma Inc., Manager, Database Marketing & Analytics
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I first started working at Williams-Sonoma, I was given the opportunity to lead a re-design of their catalog execution process. With the help of a lot of incredibly smart people and a ton of great customer data, we developed a best-in-class audience selection tool that allowed us to select catalog recipients using data-driven propensity models, execute complex test frameworks, and track sales and engagement performance using an advanced multi-touch marketing attribution solution. This project laid the foundation for a deeply engrained data-driven marketing philosophy within Williams-Sonoma and enabled my team to expand our scope to include digital marketing audience selection, test design, data engineering, and advanced analytics.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? When I decided to go to Kellogg, I knew I would find smart, collaborative, highly engaged people. What I didn’t expect to find was how incredibly, inspiringly thoughtful everyone here is — both interpersonally as well as existentially. Every day, I’ve been consistently impressed by the emotional intelligence of the people here. They have such a strong understanding of who they are and what they value. They’re decidedly self-reflective and goal-oriented and they’re committed to helping others develop in similar ways. With all the various events, workshops, and social gatherings available here, I guess it makes sense that everyone learns to be so deliberate. Kellogg calls it “intentionality,” and so far, I’ve already experienced profound benefits from attending school with classmates like this. They encourage you to be vulnerable and thoughtful about your development opportunities; they challenge you to clearly frame your definition of success; and they inspire you to pursue a life consistent with your core values.
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? Hands down, it was the MMM program, which is a multidisciplinary program providing an MBA from Kellogg in addition to an MS in Design Innovation from the McCormick School of Engineering. I truly believe it’s the future of MBA programs. It’s one of the only programs out there that focuses on teaching professionals to operate at the intersection of the many different functions that touch a product – engineering, design, operations, marketing and finance, among many others. Moreover, it challenges us to think beyond the product, to the platform and ecosystem level. When we graduate, we’re going to be expected to wear many hats, and the MMM program stands out to me for its emphasis on creating whole-brain thinkers capable of managing everything from user-focused design research, to complex data-driven analyses, to elaborate execution plans. It’s the perfect program for those who want to be disciplined in their approach to innovation; to understand the methodology behind consumer research, prototyping, development, and operating of new initiatives; and to do it in a mindful, empathic way.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? There are so many exciting clubs and activities available here at Kellogg that it’s hard to pick just one. In the end, I’ve got to be most excited about Pride@Kellogg. To me, Kellogg’s diverse and inclusive community is a big part of what makes this school so special. There’s such a strong sense of acceptance, mutual support, and empowerment here. I have P@K members to thank for being some of the first people to introduce me to it. I feel privileged to be a part of this community, and I can’t wait to repay their generosity by helping to connect others to the Kellogg community the same way they connected me.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? It stemmed from a desire to get exposure to different fields, meet inspiring people, and, ultimately, figure out what’s most fulfilling to me. It’s been astonishing to witness how quickly marketing technology has evolved in the past few years. I truly believe that data-driven approaches to decision making, fueled by advances in data science and machine learning, have the power to revolutionize business and society as we know them today. At the same time, I have a strong conviction that data science should be paired with human-centered design to ensure we understand our real needs and are solving the right problems. I pursued an MBA because it provides an opportunity for me to further explore these concepts, transition to a new career in technology, and meet inspiring people that will expose me to other concepts that I’m yet to discover.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? It took a lot of soul searching. When I first told my friends that I was thinking of applying to business school, many of them pointed to the sky-high tuition fees and equally high opportunity costs. It took me a while to feel secure in saying that it’s not about money. Yes, long-term, I have no doubt it will pay off, but business school to me is more about self-growth, forming deep relationships with inspiring people, and the pursuit of a happier, more fulfilling life. When I learned to look at it in those terms, it became an easy decision for me.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB and Berkeley-Haas
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Resources such as Poets & Quants and the Veritas Prep MBA Essential Guide were extremely helpful in forming my initial opinions on school strengths, cultures, and career fit. Informational sessions, calls with students, MBA rankings, and other online resources helped me narrow the list down further. Once I had a short list put together, I was surprised by how much I learned from visiting the schools I was interested in. It’s one thing to read about the different cultures; it’s an entirely different thing to experience them in person.
During my visit to Kellogg, I attended a class called Public Economics for Business Leaders in which I witnessed two randomly selected teams of students vigorously debate over government subsidization of alternative energy production. I came out of the class awe-struck by the insightfulness, communication skills, and depth of preparation exhibited by the students in the class. I was convinced they had spent all quarter preparing for these debates, only to find later that it was just their third week of class and alternative energies were one of many subjects that had already been covered. After class, I headed to TG, a weekly happy hour hosted by Kellogg, where I witnessed the fun, friendly side of Kellogg first-hand. Before I knew it, I was invited to dinner, a cocktail party, and a night out in Boystown. I hadn’t even gotten in yet, and I already felt like I made more friends in one day than I had the entire year prior. My visit to Kellogg is what really made me fall in love with this place. There’s something truly special here that’s very hard to capture in words. You have to visit to feel it for yourself.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My journey toward an MBA was inspired by my mom, who passed away two years ago. Her final reflections on life and the deep, existential conversations we shared were what galvanized me to attend business school. She reminded me how one’s life is defined by the difference one makes on others; that we only have one chance at life and that I should take risks, pursue my dreams, and fight tooth and nail to make them come true. Thanks to those moments we shared, I’m more focused than ever on what’s truly important to me.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I’d like to work in a product-focused role for a technology company seeking to make a positive impact on the world. I think it’d be a great opportunity for me to meet and collaborate with a ton of smart people, get exposure to a wide variety of functions, and help advance products that I truly believe in.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I would love to be leading an early-stage technology start up. I’m particularly interested in technology platforms that harness recent advancements in machine learning, big data and blockchain technology to alleviate challenges that consumers face in fairer, more humane ways. I know that’s glaringly vague, but the truth is I’m still figuring it out. It’s one of the reasons why I came to Kellogg in the first place – I have a lot to learn. I can’t wait see how my self-awareness, vision and direction evolve over the next couple years.