2021 MBAs To Watch: Jonathan Pan, UC Davis

Jonathan Pan

University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management

“Your average neurobiology major turned MBA who is obsessed with chocolate.”

Hometown: Foster City, California

Fun fact about yourself: Appeared on an episode of Martin Yan’s cooking show

Undergraduate School and Degree: I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Neurobiology Physiology and Behavior from UC Davis (not pretentious at all)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Gourmet Coffee Supervisor at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? QuickPickleKit.com in Los Osos, California!

Where will you be working after graduation? Not decided yet, but hopefully in craft food manufacturing or production operations

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President of the GSM Pride Network, President of the Associated Students of Management

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Our first virtual Friendsgiving event. Even though it seems like a small feat, it took a lot of coordination to pull off the first virtual extracurricular social gathering including students from every program of our business school. The result was a beautiful moment where people were able to let down their guards and realize that people actually existed behind the time-space fabric of Zoom.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was developing a merchandising and craft product training for my associates in the retail coffee shop in the Marriott Marquis. It symbolized a moment where I found myself loving that I could make my employees feel like they mattered.

Why did you choose this business school? UC Davis is a global leader in food science studies and innovation. I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t continue to pursue my passion for food at this university. If it weren’t the business program, I would still be working on a sensory science certification at the school.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite has to be Associate Professor Elizabeth Pontikes. She taught our Organizational Strategy and Structure core class. With her research in category strategy and profound skill in imparting geeky strategy wisdom, she single-handedly sparked my passion for all aspects of business.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA tradition was the international potluck where both domestic and international students are invited to someone’s house to share great food, music, and drinks that were representative of the culture and country they come from. This casual tradition reflects how embedded a forward-looking culture of diversity is woven into the fabric of our community.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I’d get more food science graduate students involved with the business school because the future of food (and the world) is collaboration.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about our school is that it is full of cows. Well, we don’t just have cows; we also have horses, goats, and birds of prey too…

What surprised you the most about business school? How kind people are.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I wrote about my passion for the path I was choosing and how UC Davis would fit in with that path.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Stephen Perry. He is a father of three, ex-military, wakes up at 5 a.m., takes all of the toughest finance courses, and still has the conscientiousness to write people LinkedIn recommendations in his off time.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? It was so difficult to continue to facilitate the natural in-person networking and socializing that happened in the halls of the building while online!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mom – she pursued an MBA and soon after became a single parent taking care of me and my brother. I didn’t get to see her much, so the MBA unintentionally also helped me reconnect with her.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to one day found my own bar/restaurant/hospitality concept or produce a new craft product that reflects my cultural background.

What made Jonathan such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Jonathan has unmatched energy, organizational skills, and a unique ability to draw people together. He has been an invaluable leader, leveraging his technical and people skills to keep our students connected, networked, and engaged as members of our community. He is the president of our student body, GSM Pride Network, and a student ambassador. One thing that stands out is his initiative and drive: he has creative ideas and finds a way to implement them to enhance the common good. He implemented technical tools like LinkedIn groups for clubs and Slack for his cohort, and drummed up enthusiasm and engagement for people to join and use these channels, which has noticeably enhanced relationships among our students. He is now taking the next step to create a relationship analysis in order to gauge the quality of networking and collaboration to further enhance engagement. Jonathan is also an intellectual leader who elevates class discussion, and as a teaching assistant has gone above and beyond to reach out to students who are struggling and help them with the material. I can say with confidence that he bears exceptional responsibility for keeping our student body engaged and connected during our hard times of remote learning.”

Elizabeth G. Pontikes
Associate Professor of Management, UC Davis Graduate School of Management



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.