2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: JaeB Kim, University of Illinois (Gies)

JaeB Kim

University of Illinois, Gies College of Business

I love my family and love to learn new things.”

Age: 53

Hometown: Sunnyvale, California, U.S.A.

Fun fact about yourself: I like unique light fixtures.   

Undergraduate School and Degree:

B.S.: Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, South Korea

M.S.: Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, South Korea

Ph.D.: The University of Toledo, Ohio, U.S.A.

Where are you currently working? I am transitioning from working at PerkinElmer, a US biotech company to working at Samsung Biologics in South Korea. After 13 years at PerkinElmer, I moved to South Korea in early May amid the COVID outbreak.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2019, I received the President’s Club Award at PerkinElmer, given to the highest performer in the commercial division. As a prize, the firm awarded a vacation for my wife and me to Aruba for a week.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? The flexibility of the Gies Business program was the most attractive part of applying for the iMBA, so that I did not have to leave my job to pursue an MBA. Also, it is administered by a renowned institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with qualified faculty. The tuition also fit my budget.

What was your favorite part of being an online MBA program? I loved seeing people help each other unconditionally. The Gies iMBA is like a big family. When I started to look for opportunities, many students gave me valuable advice and insights. We connected through Zoom meetings, work chat, and phone calls. I never met most of them in-person, but never felt we were too far away.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Getting an MBA helped me to advance my career because my previous positions were science-focused. The courses I took through the iMBA program exposed me to many new areas, including financing, accounting, strategies, and leadership. The program prepared me to become a better manager.

The program helped me to get a better understanding of the decisions made by the management. The flexibility was crucial for my completion of the program because my job required constant traveling. I joined many live sessions from airports and hotel rooms. While it was challenging to do work and study at the same time, I somehow was able to find the balance. I wanted to do international business, and the iMBA program offers a “Global Challenges in Business” specialization, which was very useful in preparing my next position. The iMBA program is truly global. One time I was in a team with members from the US Central, US Pacific, Taiwan, and Australia. I believe the worldwide network and diversity of the program has enormous potential for the school and alumni.

The iMBA program taught me not only the data-oriented decision-making processes but also the purpose of business. The program confirmed my conviction on integrity in the industry and my desire to work on the purpose of improving people’s lives.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? With the technological advances and carefully designed courses by Gies College of Business, the online experience was as good as an in-classroom experience. My favorite feature was a small group discussion in the middle of the large Zoom live session with the faculty. At the same time, I had the freedom to control my study hours and did not have to leave my previous position.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? I know you might be hesitant, but try to see what the program offers. I am sure the iMBA program will positively impact your career. The overall experience is beyond what you imagine now.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I have no changes to suggest. The Gies online MBA team has been continuously improving the program. There are always new initiatives from the school to enhance the iMBA experience. I believe the program is moving in the right direction. I cannot ask for more.

What aspects of the program have been most relevant/valuable to advancing your work and career? Every course in the program has its strengths and specialized knowledge area. When it comes to advancing my work and career, acquiring a consultant mindset was the most valuable skill that I learned from the iMBA program. It prepares me to solve problems in the real world. Also, the iMBA journey was a humbling experience. I met so many talented students and professionals throughout the program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? As a native Korean, my long-term professional goal is to contribute to the commercial advances between the Asia Pacific and the rest of the world. At the same time, I want to do my part to improve human lives and fight diseases.

Don’t Miss: The Entire Honor Roll of the Best & Brightest Online MBA Grads of 2020

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