Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Kelly Zhang, UCLA (Anderson)

Kelly Zhang

UCLA Anderson School of Management

“Former ‘DREAMer,’ still dreaming to make the world a better place one day at a time.”

Hometown: Diamond Bar, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love playing zombie survival games, only if I can help protect or revive my teammate!

Undergraduate School and Major:  University of California, San Diego, Communication

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Vitality Health Plan, Head of Product

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? I was very drawn to UCLA Anderson’s hybrid teaching style that combines lectures, case method, team simulations, and fieldwork. This dynamic approach helps me learn business fundamentals while preparing me to find my own leadership style. Aligned with its belief that the best leaders are also the best team players, the school offers many important leadership development opportunities to students, from numerous association board seats to executive coaching program.

What makes Los Angeles such a great place to earn an MBA? With beaches, hikes, landmarks, entertainment, arts, and diverse ethnic cultures and food, LA offers a truly dynamic social environment with limitless activities that students can explore together during the two years of MBA. LA is a vibrant community that helps students get into an expansive state of mind.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? My classmates are courageous. In my short time at Anderson, I’ve already been inspired by a wide range of life stories that exude perseverance, resilience, and audaciousness. At Anderson, each and every person has a strong voice, yet somehow this characteristic brings us closer together as One Anderson. It is truly empowering to be surrounded and supported by such grounded and intelligent classmates.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at UCLA Anderson? What makes you most nervous about business school? I’m excited to broaden my perspectives among peers who come from such diverse personal and professional backgrounds. This is matched by the diversity in curriculum offered by Anderson, which has 11 areas of specialization and even allows you to create your own. I’m nervous about having to eventually narrow down my areas of focus; there are so many opportunities, and I know I can’t explore them all!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Creating Medicare insurance products that have provided affordable, high-quality healthcare to more than 200,000 seniors in America.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I worked in the same industry for seven years across three companies ranging from startup to Fortune 200. I was curious about other industries and wanted a more structured path to developing my own leadership identity. I recognized that I needed to find a platform that would allow me to explore and experiment, and the MBA environment is perfect for doing just that—where the intensity of intellectual discourse is high and the stakes are low.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None! First choice, best choice.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What are your long-term goals?” The question really opened my eyes to all the different possibilities.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Class visits were really helpful for me because I got to imagine myself attending that school and experience the culture firsthand. I also thoroughly studied the schools’ websites to understand their unique core values, and I read about students’ experiences on independent websites (like Poets&Quants!). Lastly, I knew I wanted a large enough class size to be surrounded by diversity of experiences, but one that was not too large for me to feel like I wouldn’t get to know all of my classmates.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school?
I met my partner, who really believed in me, probably more than I believed in myself at the time. I had finished the GMAT a few years prior, but as I progressed professionally, the opportunity cost got higher with every year that passed by. It’s a significant decision to invest in yourself for two years through a full-time program, and sometimes you just need that one advocate who really understands you to ‘give you permission’ to chase after your dreams. It really shined a light on the invisible mental barriers that many of us carry and helped me to appreciate the importance of advocating for myself and for others. This mentality has motivated me to make my own contributions to the community at Anderson.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? CB Insights is a market intelligence company that analyzes massive datasets. Through sophisticated data visualization and storytelling, CB Insights helps you make sense of current industry trends and capitalize on change. It’s a great company, because they make institutional-quality research and insights more accessible and engaging for the average reader. Business school students can draw inspiration from the way CB Insights innovated a new approach to data tools and developed a strong brand identity for themselves.