Meet Chicago Booth’s MBA Class Of 2021

Yiran Huang

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Curious, creative, analytical. An art fan and firm believer in ‘Things will get better’.”

Hometown: Puyang, Henan, China

Fun Fact About Yourself: I tasted goat dung at the age of four during the summer at Grandma’s in the countryside, because I thought they were M&M beans, even though my mom told me they were not. I was alright, except for being laughed at by all of my family members for years.

Undergraduate School and Major: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Risk Management Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: UBS Asset Management (Hong Kong), Product Manager and Developer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My previous job was to develop fund products and manage projects to restructure the products on the shelf. My biggest sense of fulfillment came when the product idea I recommended raised billions of assets for the firm and offered a good investment option for our investors. Leading cross-functional teams in projects from building a new product to establishing a subsidiary company enabled me to see my passion and strength in working with people from various backgrounds.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Friendly and helpful. Before stepping on the campus, international students have several to-dos, such as the VISA, immunization requirements, insurance, finding an apartment, etc. Preparing all of this with my Booth classmates makes it a lot easier. By the first day, someone had already compiled a comparison of different insurance plans, tips for visa and immunization, and insights about the Loop neighborhood. I am sure that the support from my peers will continue throughout my Booth experience.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA degree? Many alumni told me that Booth is a “safe” playground where students can explore new areas fearlessly. Even if things turn out to be not what they want, Booth’s strong brand and support allow them to return to the paths more natural to them. As people’s views and plans change with time, Booth offers broad space for its students to jump high with extra cushions when they land.

Aside from your classmates, 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? The strong academy and flexibility to tailor my study plans. With a science background, I am used to analyzing quantitative problems with rigorous reasoning. However, I lack the acumen and framework to quickly understand different businesses. As a result, I always wanted to learn business analytics in a systematic way. After researching the methods of different business schools, I found the Chicago Approach really intrigued me due to its emphasis on solving problems with tools and frameworks. In addition, the flexible curriculum allows me to skip some finance and statistics courses which I already learned through my undergraduate and work experience.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I look forward to the LEAD Program aimed at developing our leadership skills because it is a great opportunity for me to better understand my leadership styles and learn to lead more wisely.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? My interviewer asked me why I think the knowledge about e-commerce in the US (that I plan to gain through the short-term career goal) would help my long-term goal to build an e-commerce platform in China, as the two markets are totally different. I did not expect this level of questioning into my career goals. I replied with an impromptu analysis of the trends and consumers in both markets. My interviewer seemed happy about my response. Even with the admissions call, my admissions officer started with questions about my career goals. I thought it was another interview, but later she told me I was admitted. While my mind was blown by the surprise, the admissions officer told me that I would get used to being challenged at Booth as it is part of the culture. In short, an applicant should know his or her goals well and be prepared for challenges!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I enjoyed the nature of my role as a product manager, but I want to switch to the technology industry. An MBA degree will fill in the gaps by equipping me with knowledge in strategy, marketing, technology management and developing leadership skills.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg, CBS, Anderson, Yale SOM

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I asked a few questions: Can the school help me reach my career goals? Do I want to become part of the community that I interacted with? Will I be happy there? These questions required reaching out to current students and alumni and making a campus visit. I connected with many Boothies through the information session, student club websites, LinkedIn, and a campus visit. By talking to as many people as I can, I gathered insights into the program and got to feel the culture. The personal experience of alumni who share similar backgrounds and goals with me is the most useful source when I evaluate whether the school fits my goals.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I grew up in a small city in China where I had the freedom to try anything. I captured the beauty of the world around me by painting with graphite and gouache and spent my summers and winters farming and crafting with my grandparents. When I arrived in Hong Kong for university, I suddenly found that there was someone better than me at everything I thought I was good at. However,, I overcame the feeling of defeat and learned to get along with myself by focusing on the things I truly care about. That process encouraged me to accept my limitations and reflect on who I am and what I want to do constantly.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I hope I will be managing a specialized Chinese e-commerce platform that creates omni-channel consumer experiences and achieves technology-bolstered operational efficiency. I also wish to see myself continually contributing to career education for young people.

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