2019 MBAs To Watch: Shirley Liou, University of Washington (Foster)

Shirley Liou

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“Enthusiastic, lifelong learner curious about people and ideas.”

Hometown: Redmond, WA

Fun fact about yourself: It has been scientifically proven that I have the cutest, smartest, sweetest nieces and nephews in the world (Tristan, Nova, Tessa, and Jet).

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Washington: Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science, BS Computer Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? UIEvolution, Inc., Software Development Engineer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Amazon (Seattle, WA); Sr. Technical Product Manager (PMT) Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Disney; Program Manager in Technology Management Rotation Program (disneytmr.com)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President: Foster Level Up! Interactive Entertainment Association
  • Fritzky Leadership Fellow (Coach/mentor for 1st year MBA students and teams)
  • Recipient: Charles F. Frankland Memorial Scholarship Endowment; Ark Chin Endowed MBA Scholarship
  • Dean’s List

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the upcoming Indian Consulting Project with SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association), which includes a two-week trip to India and applied consulting project during Spring Quarter. My team will be helping SEWA explore opportunities to scale its social enterprises. I’m proud to use the experiences and skills I have learned to have a real-world impact of helping empower women who are traditionally marginalized and exploited.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of contributing to the development of multiple mobile applications for Fortune 100 companies. It was satisfying working with clients to bring forth clarity from complex problems and to execute the solutions with a dedicated team.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Elizabeth Stearns, a marketing professor. She is passionate about the subject matter and isn’t afraid of pushing for excellence. She cares deeply about her students and she gives real-world advice from her vast amounts of experience in the field.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite course was Advertising & Promotion Management taught by Elizabeth Stearns. She has seven rules of business; the seventh is ‘Business is personal—sooner or later it all comes down to that.’

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Foster because of the close-knit community of students and faculty who are fully invested in the successes of those around them.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Know your values. What do you care about and why you care about it? Make sure you communicate this throughout your application and in your interactions.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That it rains all the time. It’s only a little true—it also snowed several times this year.

 Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? It’s important to manage your FOMO and focus on your priorities. There are so many amazing experiences–it’s easy to get distracted by all the bright and shiny opportunities that pop up and accidentally overload your schedule.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Business school has developed my resiliency and my ability to adapt and bounce back from failures. I’ve known about the importance of a ‘growth mindset’ for many years now, but I didn’t fully live it until I joined Foster and devoted time to my personal growth and leadership development.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Priya Gupta – she is the unsung hero of our class. Not only is she an amazing teammate, but she is also an inspiring mom and role model. She excels academically, and she gives back to the Foster community as the President of Global Business Association. Beyond reliable, she is proactive and thoughtful. If I can graduate with half her poise and competency, then I would count myself lucky.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother has always encouraged me to pursue my goals. She helped me realize that getting an MBA was the best way to get the skills and network necessary to create the impact I want to have.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Godfather Part II. Diversify and have a succession plan.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…coding mobile apps and traveling.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? The relationships I have made are priceless. I can confidently say my MBA education is NPV positive.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Road trip around the US sampling all the different kinds of BBQ.
  • Release baby sea turtles into the ocean.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like to be remembered as someone who genuinely cares others and is committed to supporting the pursuit of their goals.

Hobbies? I enjoy playing games (both video and board) and forcing others to look at pictures of my nieces and nephews.

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

“We all know that MBAs are a busy group. So when I put out the call to the Class of 2019 about their classmates who embodied the “Best & Brightest,” I expected most of the replies to be brief. Not so for the people that wrote about Shirley Liu. They took time to spell things out.

Here’s an example:

“I was fortunate enough to be placed on Shirley’s fall quarter team our first year of the program. It was here I quickly realized what an incredible leader, teammate, friend, and mentor she was. Shirley is always the first to get everyone involved, thoughtfully ask the hard questions, demand we question our intuition, and go to the extra mile to make sure something is done correctly and efficiently. She’s also one of the most gifted in our class – excelling at every subject and almost anything she puts her mind to. Yet, you would never know that due to her immense humility and desire to make others succeed and feel heard.”

In lieu of her amazing professional achievements, such as securing an internship at Amazon and then a full-time role at both Microsoft and Disney, what I find most inspiring is Shirley’s personal drive to always improve herself. She serves as a Leadership Fellow mentoring 1st year students in addition to being one of the most coveted and popular club presidents by managing Level Up!, transitioning the club from a focus on just having fun playing video games to enriching its members with information on how to participate and find careers in the ever-growing industry of interactive media and gaming. Both of these roles demand that she hone and develop her leadership skills in various ways and experiences throughout her time at Foster. Additionally, Shirley makes a point to only take classes that will expand her growth mindset and teach her new skills. Socially, she is always the first person to schedule lunches on calendars to make sure she’s keeping up to date with our classmates’ personal lives and make everyone feel welcome.

All in all, I believe Shirley is a phenomenal example of taking full advantage of the Foster experience. I know she is one of the most indispensable MBAs in our program and couldn’t recommend her more as an incredible representation of our class, brand, and Foster as a whole in Poets and Quants.”

Andrew Krueger

Director of Alumni Engagement

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