Meet Pittsburgh Katz’s MBA Class Of 2021

Min Cai

University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

“A motivated and committed human resource professional who believes success is earned, and not given.”

Hometown: Jingdezhen, China

Fun Fact About Yourself: I traveled to over 70 cities in and out of China. Every time I travel to a new place, my favorite thing to discover is new kinds of food.

Undergraduate School and Major: East China University of Political Science and Law, Bachelor’s Degree in Law

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Associate Human Resources Manager, Mondelez International

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I worked as an HR business partner at Mondelez China, I partnered with the procurement department head to implement organizational transformation and ensure smooth transition. As one of the members of the organization transformation program, I took the responsibilities of new organization structure design and aligned business functions within the HR management team, including new job evaluation, candidate selection, and team engagement activities before and after the transition. This helped the procurement team continuously manage the business without any negative impact on operational effectiveness.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Diverse and Curious. My MBA classmates are from different countries and have different expertise. They are open to sharing their experiences and listening to different perspectives. They show great passion in their lives and always explore new ideas.

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? As an international student, I chose Katz because of professional support from the career management team. They provide great advice and resources to help students during their job search and focus on their priorities. Most international students like me may lack working experience in the U.S. Professional support is essential for us. The Katz career management center offers one-on-one support to explore future career goals, develop personal branding, and attend networking events. I am excited to continue to work with the career management team during my MBA journey.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am most looking forward to competing in case competitions, which require students to compete for the best solution to a business-related case study. I think it will help me enhance my skills in business analysis, problem-solving, teamwork, and public speaking. Also, case competitions will allow me to work with my classmates to understand and solve challenges from a business perspective.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Tell me about an ethical dilemma you faced in the workplace.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve worked in HR roles in several multinational companies in China. During my time at Mondelez International, I had the opportunity to work on projects with various business functions. I found that understanding business and aligning HR strategy with business strategy are very important. This experience made me realize that I need to advance my knowledge in marketing, operations, finance, and strategy. I believe completing an MBA program with an HR focus is the best way to build business knowledge, strengthen my personal network, and advance my career.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?  Pennsylvania State University

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritize MBA programs that offered an HR-related concentration. Next, I used the U.S. News rankings to evaluate the schools. Then, I connected with current students and alumni to learn more about the program. Lastly, I considered which programs offered activities and experience-based learning opportunities that I was interested in and if the school had a strong business reputation.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was when I went to university away from my hometown, which is a small town in China. I had never been to any other city before I went to university. That was the first time I started living independently in Shanghai. Everything was new to me. In the beginning, I felt very hesitant about the new environment, even though I was happy in my personal life and with the university. To adjust to the change, I started attending different club events to make new friends and working a part-time job to alleviate the economic pressure. I learned how to handle difficult situations and solve problems during life’s challenging moments. This experience helped me get through some tough times—applying for jobs after graduation, taking on new job responsibilities, adjusting to life in America, and preparing for an MBA program. Whenever I feel upset or exhausted, I always tell myself that those difficulties are teaching me lessons, pushing me to grow, and encouraging me to change.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I can see myself working in an HR role where I can leverage my experiences and education from business school to design and implement HR strategy within the organization.

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