“International English Literature student trying to break into America’s tech scene.”
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Fun Fact About Yourself: I spoke at a Python conference in front of 150+ people as a non-programmer and also have a relatively active Github account.
I worked and lived in 3 different countries in three very different climates so far – Helsinki, Seoul, and Miami – and am willing and excited to discover more countries and cities in the future.
Undergraduate School and Major: Korea University, English Literature & Business Administration
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Twinword (Korean tech startup), Business Technology Manager (This was a temporary job for 3 months to experience a tech startup). Before that I worked as a consultant at Reddal (a Helsinki-based professional services firm) for close to 4 years.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I spearheaded the development of multiple tools for a global shipbuilding firm based in Miami for cross-continent team collaboration and vendor management, increasing team efficiency by 25 – 40%.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Genuine and always ready to help! I imagined an MBA environment to be cut-throat and competitive, but was surprised to find that current and incoming students are all ready to just roll their sleeves up and help each other out.
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? Its focus on data and analytics. During Tepper’s Welcome Weekend event, Kathryn Barraclough, Head of MBA Program, said “While others talk about the importance of analytics in business, we are the school that actually teaches you those skills.” Coming from an English Literature background, I wanted to pursue a program that would approach business with an emphasis on data and analytics.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The Tepper Women in Business club. So far, I’ve been very impressed by the level of discourse about women in business from Tepper as well as from the Forte Foundation. I’m looking forward to learning and getting to know inspiring women role models through TWiB (Tepper Women in Business) and also bring the international perspective to the discussion. In the future, I hope I could bring what I learn back to my home country and contribute to advancing women’s position in business in South Korea. Nothing would make me happier than growing to become an inspiration and mentor for fellow Korean women pursuing a career through my MBA experience.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Learning how technology and advanced analytics can improve business processes dramatically, I wanted to advance my quantitative skills to the next level to be able to create that change for businesses. Pursuing an MBA at a quantitatively focused school like Carnegie Mellon was the natural next step for where I wanted my career to go.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? The average salary per year for a Tepper graduate is $119,402. The time to make up the tuition I invest is not long, and for me, the experience of flying halfway across the world to experience new things, make new friends, and explore more opportunities is more than worth it. I consider it taking a leap forward to advance to the next level in my career.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I only applied to two schools – Carnegie Mellon Tepper School and MIT Sloan. An analytics-focused curriculum was primarily what I was looking for.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? My criteria for selecting schools was a curriculum focused on hard business analytics skills, and a relatively small class size. As for the curriculum, I wanted to throw myself in the deep end and learn the quantitative skills I didn’t have a chance to learn during university, or on the job. In addition, I wanted to dip my toes in computer science since I am also interested in programming and building automation tools for operations. The option to attend courses from different departments other than the business school was a big attraction point for Carnegie Mellon, since their computer science school is one of the best.
A relatively small class size was also important for me, since I wanted to be part of a tight-knit community of classmates that would support each other rather than compete for limited opportunities. The staff-to-student ratio was also important, especially as an international student that may have more administrative assistance needed in the recruitment process.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? During my undergrad years, I was part of a university club helping people in need by creating a social enterprise business model. My team’s project was to help small-scale farmers reach end-customers directly so that they could reach a sustainable profit level. Being inexperienced in execution of the business, we weren’t able to create a successful social enterprise, but it was a defining moment for me because I realized I wanted to ultimately help people with the power of business. Successful businesses have the power to move mountains, and if the decision-makers have the right intentions, they could do a lot of good in the process.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I wish to get a job at a tech company in an operations role. Current dream job is Amazon’s Senior Program Manager.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself at the same company I get into right after graduation, possibly leading expansion efforts of that business to South Korea or another Asian region.