2020 MBAs To Watch: Jenny My Le, Columbia Business School

Jenny My Le

Columbia Business School

Texan and first-generation student committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and getting back to one’s roots.”

Hometown: Houston, TX

Fun fact about yourself: I love match-making; I’ve helped several friends and my sister find love vis-à-vis dating apps and met my fiancée on Coffee Meets Bagel!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Harvard College, Bachelor of Arts in Government with a Secondary in East Asian Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Associate at A.T. Kearney in Dallas, TX

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Commercial Strategy Intern – Revenue Management at American Airlines in Fort Worth, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Corporate Strategy & Development Associate at TIAA (Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association) in New York, NY

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President, Marketing Association of Columbia (MAC)
  • VP of Inclusion, Peer Advisor Board
  • AVP of Events, CBS Reflects
  • Laidlaw Scholar
  • Dean’s List

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It’s hard to just choose one, so I will choose two from my favorite two groups on campus: MAC and Peer Advisors.

With only 5% of students interested in retail/marketing on campus, it’s sometimes difficult to get noticed by students. However, this year, MAC hosted four industry professionals in the advertising and marketing space to discuss Super Bowl Ads – most controversial, favorite, etc. We were able to have ~80 students come to learn more about the emotional elements of what makes a good ad. The group favorite was Google one about falling in love…undoubtedly my favorite from the bunch and also a great supplement to the marketing curriculum offered on campus!

For Peer Advisors, this is a group of students who facilitate orientation for incoming first-years and is undoubtedly my favorite experience on campus. I was able to connect with incoming first-years from both the August and January entry term and learn about different aspects of when they felt included, what life is like in other countries like Lebanon and Kazakhstan, and so much more.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As a consultant at A.T. Kearney, my favorite experience was really getting to know my clients and helping one, in particular, co-create a platform for this telecom’s company to be engaged with the product and become more loyal users. The client I worked with identified that most users were males between the ages of 18-26. We were able to source deals with pizza companies and fast food joints to help target this sub-group and also grow engagement profitability on this platform. This experience really sparked my interest in digital marketing and truly understanding the core consumer.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Modupe Akinola is my all-time favorite and coincidentally my first one as well! She teaches the LEAD course which is a mandatory course on leadership and decision-making when incoming students first start. Professor Akinola is not only a wonderful person, but she came from management consulting at Bain and applied these lessons from the classroom to her prior experience in a really fun, engaging, and thoughtful manner. My favorite was when we were doing a case study on decision-making in a short timeframe using the case of Sully who landed a plane on the Hudson and she cold-called on one of my classmates who had been a pilot with the U.S. military previously. The background research she did on students really made the class top-notch.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite tradition is CBS Matters – it’s an opportunity for each student to discuss what matters most to them – whether it’s a spouse, life-changing moment at work, or a hobby such as tennis or water polo. One of my classmates discussed loneliness and mental health and how it has impacted her from various moves geographically and through life. This is a powerful tradition and a great way of getting to know someone on a much more intimate level surrounded by your cluster and friends.

Why did you choose this business school? Although moving to another city with a significant other is difficult, I chose Columbia for a few reasons: New York is indeed at the very center of business; it has excellent finance and core-curriculum program that I was missing from my liberal arts undergraduate degree; several of my former co-workers from A.T. Kearney had graduated from CBS and absolutely loved their experience here. From the past year-and-a-half, I feel so lucky to have been able to go on company visits in Midtown, connect with alums in various industries, and get to know a truly international and diverse set of peers at CBS.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Really do your research on why CBS. Even though our slogan is “At the Very Center of Business”, there are core academic attributes such as the Private Equity Program or Value Investing Program that differentiate CBS from other schools. In addition, there is a large number of clubs from social enterprise minded Pangea to Follies that are uniquely CBS. Lastly, the international trips I’ve been able to go on, partially funded by CBS, include Ghana, Laos and Japan. I spoke with several alumni from Kearney before applying, attended an info session on campus, and really connected with several current students to understand student life before applying.

What is the biggest myth about your school? CBS does not have a community. CBS does indeed have a community – despite a large class of 750+, I have had the chance to meet students from all walks through taking an EMBA Capital Markets class to join affinity groups such as Asian Business Association and South Asian Business Association. Everyone is extremely welcoming, and I’ve definitely found a group of friends from the various clubs and classes I have attended.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back, I was very keen on switching from consulting to brand management and pursued this heavily before school started – from attending Procter & Gamble’s Brand Camp to really narrow my focus. However, I also evaluated my values of family, being able to be debt-free in 5 years, and working for a mission-driven company. In doing so, I realized that other companies outside of brand management and traditional consumer packaged goods really fit that bill as well. Rather than narrowing my search down so early, I wish I had been more open-minded about additional opportunities when first starting school and advise others to really use the summer before business school to hone down their values and what roles and careers they want to pursue – not just chasing consulting or banking because those have structured recruiting processes.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This person has since graduated, but the peer I most admire is Zenah Hasan, Class of 2019. She was my Peer Advisor and instrumental in terms of helping me decide which clubs and activities aligned with my growing interest in corporate social responsibility and inclusion. Zenah encouraged me to apply for the Peer Advisor Board as the VP of Inclusion and also to join CBS Reflects – two organizations that truly make an impact to the student experience and have allowed for me to get to know her better as well as the school administration.

In addition, Zenah is an inclusive leader and truly helped me feel welcome when I first started school, and as I was struggling to find the core group of friends that had the same values as me. Zenah recently returned to campus to help with the January term orientation and continues to inspire and be an inclusive leader where she currently works in Marketing at Pfizer.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My role model was my mentor from the Harvard Radcliffe Women’s Organization – Lilly Beshore. Lilly went to Harvard College for her undergrad education and was a student at Harvard Business School when I first met her. She tirelessly encouraged me to pursue business and consulting after college and really helped me connect with her friends at Amazon, Deloitte, etc. She also helped me negotiate my offers from college, experienced recruiting into Kearney, and most recently with TIAA, where I will work after CBS. My favorite quality about Lilly is that she always makes time for me, even as she was starting a new job on the West Coast, just delivered a baby, etc. She always gives me “real” advice instead of sugar-coating things.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • To lead a digital marketing initiative for a new app or campaign.
  • To provide a mechanism to weave corporate social responsibility with growing sales – selling more, but doing good.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like my peers to remember me as an authentic, inclusive friend – always there when they need something.

Hobbies? My favorite hobbies including intramural volleyball (although I’m awful), paint and sips to express my creativity, and watching baking and cooking shows on Netflix including Nailed It and The Great British Baking Show. I also love connecting with my roots whether it means eating Vietnamese food or volunteering as a Board member for the Houston-based Vietnamese Culture & Science Association.

What made Jenny such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Jenny is an invaluable addition to the 2020 class as she embodies diversity and inclusion in her leadership as a peer advisor as well as co-president of MAC. Jenny has been very diligent in ensuring that club members and incoming students feel welcomed at CBS. From lowering dues, creating diverse events, and leading this semester’s Sexual Respect panel, Jenny has proven to be an important leader here at CBS.”

Scott Siegel Ortiz
Senior Associate Director – Student Life and Engagement
Office of Student Affairs


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