“From West Philadelphia, born and raised, I’m commercializing science, following a path mostly unpaved.”
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Fun Fact About Yourself: I was in a hip-hop dance group in college. Performing on stage helped me to stop being as shy as I was and to start becoming the person that I wanted to be.
Undergraduate School and Major:
Princeton University, Chemical Engineering BSE;
Stanford University, Chemical Engineering PhD
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Frost & Sullivan, Research Analyst and Consultant
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a postdoctoral scholar, I was given autonomy in determining my line of research. I was able to combine the knowledge gained from my graduate studies and the technology in my lab to invent a new sensor technology that was good enough to become the basis of a startup company.
Starting a company is extremely scary but somehow everything came together well. It was the culmination of several years of research and could only be done by properly managing a team of graduate and undergraduate students, recruiting co-founders, and nurturing key business partnerships. I am proud that I was able to take on the challenge of starting a business based on my own research.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My classmates represent a niceness that is amenable to business. They are thoughtful and friendly and, in a crisis, all are ready to help in any way possible. My classmates are not pushovers. They are caring enough to speak candidly and hold others accountable. We’ve already established a great sense of community and I’m sure we will be highly supportive of each other as we go through business school.
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? Alumni giving rate was a key factor for me. I think this metric gives the best representation of graduate satisfaction and gratitude. It encompasses whether graduates move into their desired careers, how well the school prepares its graduates, as well as how well the alumni network effectively contributes to career growth. Tuck by far has the greatest alumni giving rate among top business schools, and all my numerous interactions with alumni have validated this metric.
What aspect of the school’s culture or values resonates most with you and why? Tuck strives to impart a sense of confident humility onto its graduates. This resonates strongly with me as I don’t believe achieving success requires being boastful or self-serving. Gratitude and consideration for society as a whole will lead to a more prosperous and technologically advanced society with fewer unintended consequences.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Winter is my favorite season. Since I have lived in Texas for the past six years, I haven’t been able to fully engage in any typical winter activities. So I’m looking most forward to hitting the slopes frequently with the Ski and Snowboard Club.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The entire admissions process is a blur, but one question I received was what my game plan would be if I did not get into business school. It’s hard to hear that question and not think the interview is going terribly. In the moment, I was also unsure whether I would be persistent in trying to go to business school or try to enter the venture capital space without an MBA. I talked through my thought process and gave a reasonable answer centered around different paths to reaching my career goals.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I want to move into venture capital and I knew business school would help me be successful in this career in two ways. Already, I have tapped into the alumni and organizational networks associated with an MBA to connect with people in the industry. I will also learn the financial aspects of early-stage investing more thoroughly than I would be learning on my own. Lastly, expanding your network of ambitious people who are trying to improve the world is always a good thing!
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Berkeley Haas, Stanford GSB, MIT Sloan, UCLA Anderson, UT McCombs, and UW Foster.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I targeted highly-ranked schools with a small class size since I want to be familiar with all my classmates. I used several online resources, including Poets & Quants, to determine which schools fit my basic criteria in terms of alumni network strength, academic rigor, and perceived culture. I also visited a few campuses to get a better sense of those that best fit my career goals. Those visits along with the fervent support from alumni made me choose Tuck.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? A year into my Ph.D. program and after doing research for a few months, we had qualifying exams to present our research plan for our doctoral work and to demonstrate our understanding of the project. I failed my first attempt even though I was sure that I was prepared at the time. After spending some time reflecting, I realized that there was more that I could have done to prepare for the exam. I better analyzed the questions that I was asked, determined pertinent gaps in my knowledge, and studied to fill those gaps. With that introspection, I took the exam again, knowing I had done my best to prepare and was ready for whatever result may come. Fortunately, I passed and that sparked my career in chemical engineering research.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I want to be a seasoned venture capitalist, having invested in several companies in the advanced material and food science industries. By that time, I should be starting to get a gauge on how successful those investments were and how I can improve my strategies. I am aiming to demonstrate that investing in technology-driven, capital-intensive industries can have as large a return as other industries given a long enough time frame while also yielding a larger positive societal impact as new industries and thousands of jobs are created.