Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Shawn Liu, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Shawn Liu

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business

“I’m a people-person with a heart of exploring and pioneering.”

Hometown: Jinan, China

Fun Fact About Yourself:  Growing in a hoteliers’ family, I know how to open doors using a hotel key card way before using an actual key

Undergraduate School and Major:  Arizona State University, Master of Accountancy

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Director of Operations and Strategy, Connect Worldwide International Inc.

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? “Business is personal”. Contrary to popular belief – that business practices focus exclusively on revenue and competition – I’m a firm believer that “business is personal.” While working at current company as a Director of Operations, I lost count of how many times a client will choose us over our competitors, even though we offered the same quality product but added a more personal touch. This same mindset guided my decision to choose W. P. Carey’s MBA program. I value the emphasis on tailoring learning to students’ need, creating a personalized leadership development plan, and offering one-on-one executive mentorship. This is a natural fit for my academic and professional goals.

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 good examples would be the innovative CareerLeader Assessment. Before I start to work with the career coach to the MBA program, I was required to complete this questionnaire that was comprised of three sections – namely, interests, motivators, and skills. Upon completion, I received a comprehensive report, which included a ranking of my interests and motivation factors. What’s more, it generated a culture factor report that indicated my ideal employers and rationales. I was struck by the accuracy of the content and how much it helped me to understand how my personal attributes can be leveraged in the job search process.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? W. P. Carey School of Business Consulting Club. My biggest business passion is to solve important, complex, and high-impact problems for clients. The Consulting club will not only prepare the students for the upcoming case interview and talk to real clients, it also gives students the access to many real-world business cases, which truly empowers the students to think as a business owner with an entrepreneur spirit!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: To date, my greatest career accomplishment was leading a finance operation of a multi-million-dollar project that increased inbound tourism from Japan to California. The project involves a wide variety of marketing activities, including long-term strategy development, revenue generation, public relations and digital marketing, and event management. Our work resulted in 500,000+ tourists traveling from Japan annually and over $1 billion in travel-related revenue. According to the data, this project ranks third among over 50 top international inbound markets.

While completing this project, I had the privilege of building relationships with two of the most recognized global travel leaders, Mr. Eric Otto and Ms. Marjorie Dewey – who are now my professional role models and lifelong mentors. Through my dedication, team efforts and their mentorship, I was promoted from finance leader I on the project to a strategic leader.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? First, I want to develop advanced and comprehensive management skills. After six years of working in a management role, I had – not surprisingly – begun to solve business based on experience rather than the latest research evidence or updating my skills. This has prevented me from generating new ideas and new initiatives. By acquiring new management skills, I will be able to achieve a balance, where I can complement my experience to achieve innovations.

Second, I want to build a long-term and extensive business network through the MBA program. Drawn to entrepreneurial endeavors, I understand that no business can ever have a clear boundary between industry and function. By establishing a strong network with my professors, peers, and alumni in different industries, I can extend my business reach, generate new opportunities, and capitalize on new ideas.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? No

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question I was asked was: “Tell me about a time you convinced someone to accept your idea even though they have more experience in that field.” Although I wasn’t expecting this question, it challenged me to come up with an answer and to reflect on the depth of my professional experiences. Ultimately, I described the time when I successfully persuaded the VP of the client about a strategy shift by justifying my idea with market data and building financial models.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Following graduation with a Master of Accountancy degree, I worked as a finance and accounting manager for the first few years of my career. In 2015, I came across an opportunity to transition into strategy and operations working for a project in Japan. It meant that I would be working outside of my comfort zone and entering an area that I didn’t have much experience or systemic knowledge. Leading a team in a foreign culture, with different work habits, only added to the challenge.

Nevertheless, I seized the opportunity and quickly adapted to my new role by demonstrating a capacity to learn quickly and an aptitude for cross-culture communication. This was my defining moment as a professional. It prepared me to work across the board in different job functions with diverse teams, just as it pushed me to explore new opportunities and definitions of success.

Now, my goal is to acquire advanced and comprehensive management skills through your program. I’m ready for knowledge across different functions, industry, specialization while keeping myself flexible and embarrassing new skills, new communications, and new post-pandemic environment.

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer? The most important attribute that I’m seeking in an MBA employer is creative and entrepreneurial. A company is willing to think outside of the box, empower the employee’s entrepreneurship.

DON’T MISS: Meet Arizona State’s MBA Class of 2022

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