2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Jennifer Bae, UCLA (Anderson)

 Jennifer Bae

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

“A spirited, optimistic ball of energy who strives to build connections and support others.”

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Fun fact about yourself: I held the title of “turtle walker” when volunteering in Chicago at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Undergraduate School and Degree: Northwestern University, BA in Economics  

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Deloitte Consulting LLP – Consultant in the Human Capital practice based in Chicago, IL  

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Amgen, Thousand Oaks, CA  

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte Consulting LLP – Senior Consultant in the Strategy & Operations practice based in Los Angeles, CA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Honors

  • Forté Foundation Fellow
  • Sandy Sigoloff Fellowship

Leadership

  • Anderson Student Association, Executive Vice President
  • Strategy & Operations Management Association, Vice President of Career Development of Operations
  • Net Impact, Vice President of Marketing & Communications
  • Operations Anderson Career Team Coach
  • Admissions Ambassadors Corps Interviewer and Group Info Session Leader
  • Entrepreneurship Leadership Development Program group Co-Leader
  • First Year Section President

Volunteer

  • Challenge for Charity – Project ECHO, Special Olympics
  • Girls on the Run

 Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of serving as the Anderson Student Association (ASA) Executive Vice President because it single-handedly was the most challenging and frustrating yet enriching and fun experience I’ve had. At Anderson, the ASA Cabinet is a group of 13 individuals who are tasked with governing the student body, overseeing student organizations, and acting as the bridge between the students and the rest of Anderson, UCLA, alumni, and the broader Los Angeles community.

As ASA EVP, I serve as second in command of the ASA Cabinet, manage the ASA Council (50+ organization Presidents), and set overall guidance by maintaining the ASA bylaws. A particular achievement, I’m proud of is creating and implementing the role of ‘Director of Community Impact’ with first-year section leadership teams. Although Anderson values giving back to the communities we are part of, students previously had minimal formalized routes to volunteer and give back. The creation of this role demonstrates Anderson’s increased commitment to service and increased focus on improving the world in which we live.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As a Consultant, I launched a national learning program for all analysts in my practice (100+ analysts). This program stresses experiential and collaborative learning with analysts in pods within local offices, which are led by peer-level leads. It provides an opportunity for analysts to learn with their peers and from more experienced peers in an informal, personal manner to increase their knowledge of concepts, develop a strong analyst community, and ultimately prepare for client engagements. It also allowed pod leads to gain impactful and relatable leadership experiences. It began as an idea to fill a gap in analyst training, which turned into a 4-month pilot program before it was rolled out nationally with widespread leadership support.

What was your favorite MBA Course: My favorite course was definitely unexpected; it was called ‘Insights to Outcome’ and taught by an adjunct professor, who was a former senior partner and managing director in The Boston Consulting Group. This class ingrained in us a structured approach around making important, impactful business decisions. It taught us how to leverage insights to lead to successful outcomes and provided real-world examples when companies and individuals succeeded and failed. The greatest learning from that class seems simplistic, but it really struck me. In every new endeavor, you must understand the outcome you want to achieve. Without an idea of the outcome before starting, any insights gained will not be as impactful.

Why did you choose this business school? My goal before school was to explore the green energy and sustainability sectors – thus, California was the obvious option for me! What I really loved about Anderson is that it is a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ school, with expertise in a number of industries and functions. As someone who only had initial loose ideas for my next move, this diversity was the right fit for me. But ultimately, what really sold me was that when I visited Anderson, it honestly, just felt right.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself. I think there is a lot of expectation around who you should be when you apply to school and who you should be one year in and who you should be when you graduate. Ultimately, this experience is yours, and yours to craft. And in reality, people who have distinct personalities and passions are the ones who contribute the most to the culture at school, and for me personally, the ones whom I’ve learned the most from.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A myth about Anderson is that we’re always at the beach. I wish that were true! We definitely end up going more at the beginning and end of school, but it’s definitely a goal for next quarter!

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? In a concrete way, I feel more prepared in terms of my overall career and also how I perform as a worker. I now have a short- and mid-term plan with achievable steps and timelines. I’ve also discovered how to articulate my interests and how to incorporate my passions in a career. I’ve stopped seeing interests and career as conflicting forces in my life. I’ve also gained a strong educational business acumen that makes me more confident to do my work efficiently, understand implications across organizations, and to sit in meetings and contribute confidently, especially when it comes to finance (lever up!).

I also feel more ready to lead. ASA taught me to be a leader. Although I wasn’t perfect and I have so much more to learn, I am no longer scared of making decisions. I know that I can pull on experiences and call a friend to help me through future challenging situations. Overall, I am fundamentally a different person than I was when I began Anderson. The woman graduating is confident, self-aware, rejuvenated, and humbled. I feel incredibly inspired, so proud, and even more excited to see what we, my classmates and I, accomplish in the future.

What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I knew how quickly everything happens. You’re on campus and within a few weeks of Fall Quarter, companies are already coming for information sessions and networking. I don’t think anyone can fully prepare for what they will experience because it is such a unique, inexplicable experience. I also wish I knew to not be so scared and to be fearless coming into school! My life up until Anderson had an immense amount of structure, but here you’re encouraged to speak out, try something new, and just see what sticks

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Ashley Wright is one of my favorite people at school. I’m lucky to have someone like her as a constant supporter and a rational, level-headed, yet spontaneous presence in my life. She is known as one of the most reliable and approachable people at school, one who is always ready to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. She not only successfully recruited for an incredible consulting job, but also continues to serve on the UCLA Graduate Students Association (GSA). Although she spends hours working with the GSA, representing graduate student interests, most of her work goes unnoticed by Anderson students. She’s also doing all of this while launching a new company with classmates – the solo woman on a team of five. She embodies the ideals of a feminist and I have no doubt she’ll continue to pave the way for girls in the future. The most admirable characteristic is that she has never asked for nor expects nor wants any recognition. I respect this immensely and always try to emulate this in my own leadership positions.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My uncle has always been my career influencer. My parents and sisters are all incredible people, but none pursued a business path. My uncle was the guiding light for me for decisions to go to Deloitte full-time to considering business school. As a successful executive today, I am really grateful that he encouraged me to look into business school and to reassure me that this is a strategic move not only for my career but for my own personal growth.    

What is your favorite movie about business? Jerry Maguire (I love of that era of Tom Cruise movies). The biggest lessons I learned were that (1) there is always an alternative to a job you hate, and (2) relationships are crucial in anything you do.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? At Anderson, we have a weekly food and drinks happy hour event in our North Lawn. This is called Anderson Afternoons, or unofficially AA. To be fair, it was previously called BB or Beer Busts.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…ideally living abroad on an international project through Deloitte, based out of either Seattle or Denver.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? As cheesy as it sounds, my MBA experience was priceless. My time at Anderson fundamentally changed who I am as a businesswoman, a leader, and most importantly, as a person. I’ve learned an immeasurable amount from just conversations and being with my classmates; learning from them, growing with them, and having them in my network forever is truly what made my MBA worth everything I paid for it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? First, be invited to speak as a keynote or give an address to an audience. Second, pull a carrot out of the ground; it seems like it would be extremely satisfying.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? My section (Section A!!) teases me that I care waaaaaaay too much, and I do. I hope that my peers remember me as being a fun and fierce friend always ready for a hug, a consistent and genuine advocate of their interests, and a loyal and open-minded leader who made an impact.

Hobbies? I’m an avid runner – it is my form of therapy. I’ve run 4 marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2018! I also love puzzles, game nights, and excel at binge watching Netflix shows.

What made Jennifer such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Jen is a tornado on the Anderson campus. She’s highly impactful. She seems everywhere at once. She pulls people into her ideas, gets people excited and engaged, and makes them a part of something bigger than themselves. At the same time, she has a calm center; she’s clear-eyed about who she is, her point-of-view, her goals, and how to accomplish them.

As one of five first-year section presidents, Jen was a fierce advocate for her section’s interests. I would call her leadership style that of the “carer-in-chief”; no one cared more about whatever was important to Section A than Jen, and this care translated to thorough organization and tenacious promotion of her section’s interests. Through this experience, Jen discovered the desire and the confidence to serve the entire student body. Her subsequent role as Anderson Student Association (ASA) Executive Vice-President allowed her to grow immensely in her leadership abilities. There’s nothing cookie-cutter about Anderson students; they’re encouraged not to fit themselves into any one particular mold, but rather to take risks, learn about themselves, capitalize on their best traits, and become the best leader only they could be. Jen perfectly exemplifies this process of personal leadership style discovery.

As ASA EVP, she championed the formalization of section Directors of Community Impact, leveraging her leadership position and influence among her peers to advance one of her personal passions. She completely overhauled and greatly improved the ASA elections process by designing a structured, tiered timeline that allows all of Anderson’s student organizations to benefit from the very best candidates vying for leadership positions. And perhaps most telling, although her time in office officially ends in our Spring Quarter, she’s already committed to remaining active in the transition to new leadership. This crucial transfer of institutional knowledge is key to a successful start for Anderson’s next phase of student leadership and isn’t necessarily a given year-to-year. It takes a person who genuinely cares about the investment they’ve made and who is determined to cultivate it.

Add to all of this a positivity, a cheerfulness, and a genuine optimism evidenced daily, and you have Jen! We’ve certainly been lucky to have her. Jen has been Anderson’s happy tornado. She’s left Anderson a different and a better place in her wake; here’s hoping we never recover.”

Elizabeth McKillop, Ed.D.
Director of Student Services, MBA Student Affairs
UCLA Anderson

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