2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Christina Chan, Cornell University (Johnson)

Christina Chan

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

Bringing holistic, diverse viewpoints for creative and value-driven transformation to the local and global community.”

Hometown: Sharon, Massachusetts

Fun fact about yourself: I once sent an African village into a panic when I temporarily blacked out from heatstroke.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Hong Kong University, Bachelors of Engineering in Industrial Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? H&M, Purchasing Merchandiser

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Corning Inc. as a Supply Chain Sustainability Strategy Intern in Corning, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? Corning Inc., Product Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors)

  • Student Council Community Chair
  • Diversity Council Chair (The Diversity Council brings together the presidents/leaders of Johnson’s Black Graduate Business Student Association (BGBA), Consortium Members, Forté Fellows, Hispanic American Business Leaders Association (HABLA), Out for Business (LGBTQ), Veterans’ Association, Women’s Management Council, and Student Council representatives (including for international students) for monthly meetings and dialogue with senior administration regarding Johnson’s diversity and inclusion strategy and goals.)
  • Sustainable Global Enterprise Club, VP of Strategy and Operations
  • Emerging Markets Institute Fellow
  • Forte Fellow Scholarship Recipient
  • Fried Fellow Scholarship Recipient
  • McAllister Speech Award Recipient

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of receiving the Fried Fellow award, a peer and faculty-nominated scholarship for students who exemplify academic excellence while also contributing to the Johnson community through their leadership in and outside the classroom. It was humbling to read lengthy comments from my classmates about my work at Johnson, specifically with regard to programs and initiatives I have led related to diversity and inclusion and sustainability. I have rarely been recognized for something like this before, and it was surprising, yet encouraging to see that my contributions are having an impact on those around me.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of what I accomplished during my summer internship at Corning, where I developed their Supply Chain Sustainability Strategy. My manager was very supportive and entrusted me with an exciting, high-visibility project. I was able to yield visible results in change management at the VP level over a 10-week period. Since then, I continue to receive news of further implementations of my recommendations. These accomplishments make me proud, not only because of their impact throughout the organization but also because of the wider social and environmental benefits to global suppliers.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Johnson because of its Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion Program, where students are placed on unique research projects with clients on topics ranging from energy to impact investing. The immersion ensured that I would be engaged in a real-world problem while being equipped with tools to tackle it in a classroom setting. Furthermore, Cornell’s proximity to my hometown in Massachusetts, its small class size, and its close-knit community were all essential elements of my decision.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be creative and show your whole self through your application. I was not sure if art and music had a “place” in business school, but I ended up incorporating both in my application to Johnson. Not only does this bring an edge to your profile, but it will also prepare you to engage with a vibrant class with lots of fun facts and interesting stories!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Two years ago, I wish I had known my worth professionally. Whether it meant boosting my confidence or taming my ego, I think that knowing your worth earlier enables you to make more accurate decisions and sacrifices.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? One way that business school has been transformative is in developing my skills to give constructive feedback. While I used to fear giving constructive feedback to the point of not being able to fall asleep the night before, I can say that I have progressed significantly due to practice and a supportive network of mentors both at Johnson and abroad.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Taylor Fox, whom I often call Superwoman. Not only is she a highly accomplished leader in academics, extracurriculars, and in the community, she does all of these things with joy and a sense of ease. She is adventurous and free-spirited, having worked at length in Myanmar. She is also extremely organized, reliable, and efficient. If that isn’t enough, she also has numerous skills from singing Karaoke in Spanish to being a yoga instructor.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad most influenced my decision to pursue business school. He has always encouraged me to do something different and test my potential, starting with my decision to pursue my undergraduate degree in Hong Kong. Though I had limited exposure to the place and even fewer abilities in the local language, I was able to build a life there and eventually stayed for an extra four years. Similarly, he encouraged me to apply for business school where I would be stretched professionally, intellectually, and culturally as I re-immersed myself back into the U.S. after many years abroad.

What is your favorite movie about business? A documentary called True Cost, which outlines the social and environmental impact of the fast fashion industry. It’s a fascinating presentation of how a simple product such as a t-shirt has such diverse social, environmental, psychological, and cultural implications that can be addressed by business.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…identifying social and environmental opportunities in textile supply chains at the tactical level.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I think the Cornell MBA has been well worth the money with the classes I took both in the business school as well as across the rest of Cornell; the access I have to a network of highly accomplished and inspiring people; and the personal and professional skills I acquired,

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Skydiving and starting my own business

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope they would say Christina is a genuine friend who doesn’t compromise on her values.

Hobbies? ART (3D, Visual, paint, graphic design); MUSIC (guitar, violin, piano).

What made Christina such an invaluable member of the Class of 2019?

“Christina’s exemplary leadership of the Johnson Diversity Council has taken Johnson’s diversity and inclusion efforts to a whole new level. Christina’s ability to set a positive tone, to facilitate a spirit of co-creation across stakeholders, and to move people from conversation to action have won the respect and admiration of her classmates and the administration. Christina also leads with humility. As someone who spent many years in Hong Kong prior to Johnson, Christina was very forthcoming about needing to get up to date on issues facing under-represented populations in the U.S., and in her desire to learn from her classmates. Real leaders seek first to understand, rather than to be understood, and no one does that better than Christina.”

Ingrid Jensen

Executive Director, Student Services



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