Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Helen Chen, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Helen Chen

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

“Chinese-Canadian MBA student on a mission to improve the life-science industry.”

Hometown: I have three! Shanghai, China; Vancouver, Canada; San Francisco, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: The sorting hat would put me in Slytherin.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California-Berkeley, Chemical Biology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Enterey Life Science Consulting, Consultant

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? Mendoza’s ethical leadership is very near and dear to my heart. It is in my firm belief that business in the world today is a powerful tool to create impact in this world, both positive and negative. Ethical leadership asks us and guides us as MBA students to become leaders that create positive impact in this world.

From a pragmatic perspective, Mendoza admits a smaller class size than other MBA programs. I know that by joining the Mendoza program I am going to get to know everyone in my class and gain access to a close-knit group of alumni that will be there to support me throughout my career.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Engaged.

Everyone I have met so far is excited to be here and excited to learn. We went through our first Integral Leadership Development class and even the 1:00 pm food-coma could not stop the discussions.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am excited to get involved in the Business on the Frontlines Program which allows me to get real-world exposure to how and direct impact to improve the world.

Mendoza is known as a purpose-driven MBA program that asks students to “Ask More of Business.” What is your mission and how will Mendoza help you realize it? My mission in my career is to improve how we develop medicine and how that medicine is accessed. In addition to obtaining relevant knowledge and skills. I think, again, ethical leadership in terms of education will be very important. Medicine in America inherently necessitates leaders to ask more of business and asks more of leaders of these businesses.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Build a company-wide program to prepare my client for their first (and subsequent) FDA inspection.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? At age 16, my father advised me to pursue a business degree. I remember telling him there is absolutely no way!

Things started to change during my time as a consultant. My sponsor client was promoted from Senior Director to VP of the company. The scope of my responsibilities, in turn, grew exponentially. I find myself very capable of solving technical problems or industry-specific problems, but often fell short on managerial and business aspect of my advising. My shortcomings were becoming acutely clear to me. Always looking for ways to stretch my capabilities, I thought an MBA was the logical choice.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Tell us a significant event that shaped who you are today”

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I visited Mendoza for my interview and immediately felt at home. I felt welcomed and as cliché as it sounds it felt right. The decision came easy when I received my admission decision along with a Meyer Fellowship.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? It was my birthday/MBA/project closing celebration party that my client threw for me on the lawn during COVID after a week and half of FDA inspection. We were tired, relieved (because we passed), and happy. This moment is symbolic of the blood, sweat, and tears we dedicated to this project and is filled with a sense of accomplishment and appreciation.

Perseverance, hard work, and building strong relationships are what I practiced in this project and these would be key in business school.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I do not have a favorite company and I think business students can learn something from all companies, even failed ones.

Recently, I have been listening to a pod cast that featured a story about Bridgewater Associates and their company culture of encouraging open criticism to improve as an organization. I think there is a lot of insights to glean from their practices. Specifically, they are learning to get comfortable receiving and providing feedback.



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