2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Richie Huang, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Richie Huang

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

(Earning dual degree with the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern through the MMM program.)

“Always passionate to learn more about this world, and make positive changes around it.”

Hometown: Jinan, China

Fun fact about yourself: I just completed the Whole30 challenge for the first time, and feel pretty good about it.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Denison University – BA in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Omnicharge, Inc. – Head of Operations

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Apple, Inc. – Cupertino, CA. Having worked in the consumer electronics space, I found it to be a really cool experience to intern at Apple and see how the company works from within.

Where will you be working after graduation? Apple, Inc. – Operations Program Manager

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

  • Co-President, Kellogg Greater China Club
  • Co-Chair, Kellogg Greater China Business Conference 2019
  • Student Lead, Kellogg on Growth Conference 2018
  • Peer Career Coach, Career Management Center

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During spring break of 2018, I went on a NOLS backcountry hiking trip in Chilean Patagonia with a group of Kellogg classmates. We knew it was going to be a 7-day backpacking trip but did not know what else to expect. The trip turned out to be the most strenuous outdoor experience I have ever had – and I had completed several 10-hour plus ultra-trail marathons before that.

The Kellogg group self-navigated, bush-whacked, walked-over glacier, marched in freezing rain, climbed over a snowy pass, and carried extra weight whenever other teammates were in need. The special experience we have shared and the friendships we have built throughout the whole trip is my most proud achievement during business school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As a founding member at Omnicharge, I was with the team throughout its first crowdfunding campaign. I was running the overall operations for the campaign and had to figure out a way to ship 12,000+ devices to our backers in 100+ countries. At that time, the young startup didn’t even have a logistics team. The task got further complicated after the product of a leading cellphone maker started exploding midair, causing IATA to ban air transportation of lithium battery products. I was able to work out a solution with our partners to successfully deliver the products globally. Reading hundreds of thank-you notes from backers after they had received their eagerly anticipated product was the best thing anyone can ask for in a bumpy startup journey.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Craig Furfine. Before taking FINC 1 with him, I never thought a finance class would be such an interesting and engaging experience to go through. He is extremely passionate and does a great job in sharing his wisdom with the class. Professor Furfine totally changed my expectation for this subject and set a solid foundation, which allowed me to continue pursuing more finance classes. I look forward to taking “Real Estate Finance and Investments” with him this spring.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Kellogg because of the MMM program. By the time I decided to pursue an MBA, I had worked with many founders who were passionate about bringing their innovative ideas to life. Being able to lead product innovation myself had become a career goal for me, so I wanted to enroll in a program that allowed me to combine top business education with an innovation mindset. The unique value proposition of the MMM program (its dual degree set up and a strong cohort of like-minded people) definitely sold me on that.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Try to find a Kellogg alum or current student who shares similar interests or background with you. Then, really build a connection with them starting from talking about your common interests. This allows you to not only learn more about what Kellogg has to offer but also how Kellogg students tell their personal stories. Be yourself and share your story with the Kellogg admissions team are essentially what a successful application process is about.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Many people see Kellogg as a consulting school. Sure, there is a lot of former and future management consultants at Kellogg. But the idea that one single profession can categorize Kellogg is a big myth. Kellogg has a very diverse student body. And even among my consultant friends, people’s choices of extra-curricular activities, summer internships, and full-time jobs are vastly different.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I’d known how important it was to spend a lot more time thinking through what industry and career path I was really passionate about. It takes even more soul-searching than completing the career goal essay in the applications. That would keep me more focused on what matters once the MBA whirlwind experience takes off.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? The Kellogg experience has transformed the way I think about leadership. When everyone surrounding you is driven, talented and competent (as is the case at Kellogg), leadership becomes more than making sure individual tasks are completed. It is about defining, clarifying, and reminding people what the shared vision is, and empowering everyone (including myself) to build upon it. I learned that people perform best when they are clear about the purpose and meaning of their work.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I admire the most is Jane Henningsen. She is one of the most genuinely caring persons I have met at Kellogg. She seems to have endless energy in her, and can always positively impact people around her. I had the opportunity to work with Jane on a few student club issues that were very important to me. Jane always made herself available not only in her KSA leader capacity but also as a close friend. Her ability to build relationships and bring the community closer truly impresses me.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? When I was a freshman in college, I had a chance to chat with Stephanie, director of the Entrepreneurship Center at my school. She strongly encouraged me to attend a new program with which we would visit several alumni-founded startups. I joined the program, and the idea of starting your own business really appealed to me. I also learned from her that a real startup experience can be very valuable business education. My interest in entrepreneurship started from there. I went on to work in the startup space for four years.

What is your favorite movie about business? Social Network – my biggest lesson is never forgetting that there is a higher purpose and fundamental values for any organization. It’s a good habit to pause and remind yourself what matters the most and why, especially when things are going at a hundred miles per hour.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? (B-School Rich – I think it means that everyone in b-school is rich, and I look at Instagram and the people around me, that definitely seems to be the case. But I have struggled to find any hard evidence from my own bank account balances.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…building more Omnicharge products to help people power their adventures around the world.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I would say $3 million because a multiple of roughly 10 times the opportunity cost sounds about right. I believe it was totally worth more than what I paid for it, considering the people I otherwise would not have met, and the opportunities I otherwise would not have had access to.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Israel since I read the book, Jerusalem: The Biography, a few years ago. I have a trip planned this spring break. It’s going to amazing.
  2. Competing in and finishing the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), which is the holy grail for distance runners. I will most likely go for the 56KM OCC race first, but the 101KM CCC race is the ultimate goal.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? An innovative thinker and someone I’d like to run a marathon with.

Hobbies: Trail running, hiking, skiing, and talking about new startup ideas

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

“Through his leadership role in a student club, Richie exhibits a sincere willingness to hear other perspectives and to partner both with other student leaders and administrators. In his second year at Kellogg, Richie has continued to model an inclusive leadership style that is essential to maintaining a strong community. Richie has an incredible ability to build bridges across silos. He seeks to expand the perspective and reach of organizations in which he is involved and seeks to build relationships across the community. The student groups in which Richie is involved, and the Kellogg student body as a whole, have been strengthened by his contributions.”

Fran Langewisch
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Kellogg School of Management

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