“Baking and cooking enthusiast, podcast aficionado, Yale chemical engineering graduate .”
Hometown: Madison, CT
Fun Fact About Yourself: I learned how to play broomball when I was in Michigan. This wacky (if slightly dangerous) sport is similar to hockey but involves running around the ice in your running shoes instead of in ice skates.
Undergraduate School and Major: Chemical Engineering, Yale University
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Production Engineer, Dow Chemical
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment is actually persevering as an engineer in industry. My first internship in the industry wasn’t a good fit with my group, and I left the summer doubting whether I was cut out to work as an engineer. Fortunately, I stuck with it and had a much different experience working at Dow Chemical. That experience taught me that if you’re interested and motivated to do something, you shouldn’t let one setback get in your way.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? In one word, I would say invested – by which I mean invested in the classes, the clubs, and especially the community. Perhaps because it’s such a small class (100-110 students every year), I’ve seen a willingness of my MBA classmates to take on real responsibility and make a genuine commitment to improving the institutions at Rice Business. I’ve heard one second-year student say that the goal of each class is to make the Rice Business experience even better for the class following them. That dedication rings true to me from everything I’ve seen so far.
What makes Houston a great place to live and earn your MBA? For me, it’s the diversity of thought and experience that makes Houston such a wonderful place. As a second-generation immigrant (my parents immigrated from China), I find it beautiful and remarkable that so many people of different cultures, backgrounds, and nationalities can call Houston home. That was something that drew me to Rice and that makes me want to stay in Houston post-MBA.
Aside from your classmates and location, 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? Rice is intentionally a smaller business program, and as a student, this means that students can take advantage of the resources available to them to a greater extent than would be possible at a larger program. For instance, when I was deciding where to go for business school, I remember hearing anecdotes from current students about how they were supported by the Career Development Office when they went to diversity conferences or about how they were able to call up professors when they had questions during their summer internships.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m excited about the Rice Energy Finance Summit. This conference is entirely run by students at Rice Business and brings together various stakeholders in the Houston energy community – everyone from consulting firms to investment banks to energy companies. This year’s speaker is going to be the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which is exciting!
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? My answer to this might a bit unorthodox. For one of the schools I applied to, I did a video interview over Skype. Even though I was asked a fairly standard question, my video connection cut out halfway during my answer, which left me flustered when the connection resumed. My advice to applicants is to make sure they have a strong Internet connection if they ever do a video interview!
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? What I saw working in industry was that people from different departments often times struggled to communicate across functions, to the overall detriment of the organization. In operations, I heard frequent complaints from those around me about “the business” and how those on the business side didn’t understand what day-to-day life was like at the manufacturing facility. I became interested in pursuing an MBA so that I could gain an understanding of the finance side, which, combined with my previous operations background, would allow me to be a strong cross-functional leader.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied and was admitted to Rice, UT-Austin, and University of Michigan. (I was deferred and subsequently withdrew my application from MIT Sloan.)
How did you determine your fit at various schools? For me, the most important factors came down to the opportunities I would receive post-MBA, the location and the support I’d get both from the school and from the alumni network. I talked to at least half a dozen people from each school and that helped me figure out what the commonalities of the student experience were. At Rice, I was struck at how almost every person mentioned how much impact students can have, the strength of the alumni network, and the opportunities afforded by being at a university at the heart of Houston.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? When I first entered Yale, I thought that I would be interested in getting a Ph.D. and pursuing a career in R&D. A defining moment I had was during my third year at Yale, when I was working in a research lab. I realized that I wanted to see results on a more immediate and tangible timeframe than the ten- or twenty-plus-year timeframe of academic research. That realization ultimately led to me working as an engineer in industry. For me, it is still true that a big motivator is the ability to see that what I’m doing produces tangible results.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? I hope to be working as a finance manager in the energy industry. I’m especially interested in exploring the power and utility sector while I’m here at Rice. It’s an industry that seems likely to experience a lot of growth and dynamism in the next few decades and it would be exciting to help shape that evolution.