“Data-driven professional with a commitment to building a more equitable and just world.”
Hometown: Kampung Cham, Cambodia or Providence, Rhode Island
Fun Fact About Yourself: A few years ago, when I was considering going back to graduate school, I thought it might be beneficial to learn how to bartend so I could work part-time as a bartender while going to school wherever school may be. While working my 3rd or 4th shift as a bartender on the weekends for a hotel, I met one of my former bosses while serving her dinner. She told me there was an Analyst position open on her team. Long story short, after doing some research, I applied for the position; a few months later, I got the job and was on my way to a new city.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Rhode Island, Political Science and Applied Economics
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Avison Young, HRIS Analyst
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? In its charter, Arizona State University states that it is “measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed.” A school that values potential as much as it does pedigree shows me that they’re confident in the curriculum they are offering students.
- P. Carey drives this point further with its “business is personal” motto because its programming is designed around not just building up your technical skills, but also your soft skills. This emphasis on business is personal is why I’m so excited about W.P. Carey’s Executive Mentor program that matches us with a business leader in Arizona with whom we can have regular in-person conversations (COVID-19 may change this dynamic for a bit). As someone who’s looking to pivot their career, it’s reassuring to know you’ll be challenged and supported academically, personally and professionally.
Arizona State is renowned for its innovation. How have you seen innovation in the philosophy, curriculum, or researches at W. P. Carey? One of the things that W.P. Carey stresses right away is that they’re constantly innovating, and their curriculum is the biggest reflection of that. Not surprisingly, they are making continuous iterations to the curriculum based on student feedback and our changing business landscape. I guarantee that the curriculum I will experience during my time at Carey – due in part to how the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has truly transformed how we do business and interact with one another – will not be the same for any other class. I’m excited to see what course(s) will be available to my class that haven’t been previously.
What club or activity excites you most at this school?
Aside from joining The Wine Society (I’m a fierce Riesling and Rosé advocate) and Camp Carey, I’m most excited for the Consulting and Information Systems clubs and entering some case competitions. These experiences will help me determine whether a career in Consulting and/or Information Systems is for me.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It may seem silly to folks, but my biggest accomplishment in my career was moving out of Rhode Island. I spent the first two decades of my whole life only knowing Rhode Island (and occasionally travelling up north to Boston). As a new American, you often feel compelled to stay and reciprocate back the help and sacrifice your family – in my case, my mother – did to support you and give you a better future. When I was given the opportunity to move to Nashville, TN to work in education reform, I took it – knowing I did all I could to set my mother up for success. The move represented the accumulation of all my efforts for a better life for me and my family. Since then, I’ve moved two more times (to Chicago and now Arizona!); it’s addicting!
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? When I decided to apply for my MBA at W. P. Carey, it was a recent development. When I was fresh out of undergrad, I saw myself working in the non-profit or public sector so I thought either an MPP or an MPA was better suited for my professional goals. After working in several Analyst roles across various industries and departments since graduating with my Bachelor’s, I started to sense that it would be necessary to go back to school for an advanced degree in order for me to have more of an impact at an organization.
Part of my decision to get an MBA was informed by the people I worked with, particularly my direct supervisor at Avison Young (AY). The amount of feedback she and other MBA graduates provided me during my professional career have been thoughtful and transformative in how I approached my work and delivered on my projects; working with them showed me the value an MBA could bring to me and the organizations of which I’m apart – whether it’s in the private or public sector.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I was considering Kellogg, Booth, Fuqua, Scheller, Anderson, Haas and McCombs, but ultimately decided on applying to W. P. Carey first round because I felt very strongly that this was the place I should be. As a product of public education, I will admit I was a little biased in my decision.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question I had would have to be what my post-graduate career goals were. While I do have a five- and ten-year plan, some of my best career moves have occurred serendipitously. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve transformed what I once called goals to be more like checkpoints; I want to be focused and intentional, but still flexible about my professional opportunities.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I don’t know if there was any defining moment per se, but I’ve always had a commitment to curiosity, innovation, and growth. In my professional career, I’ve always been on small and effective teams; with that, there comes a lot of autonomy, trust, and responsibilities. Projects that would take months or years to own were given to me quickly; these fast-paced environments required me to be agile and, oftentimes, comfortable with the unknown.
What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer?
Trusting and transparent. Those are, what I consider, the key attributes to the success for any interpersonal relationship. Why would it be any different with a company?
Additionally, I would add innovative. I wouldn’t be a Sun Devil if I didn’t throw that into the mix.