2021 MBAs To Watch: Wanshu Chou, Indiana University

Wanshu Chou (Rita)

Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

“An energetic and resilient person exciting to explore new world and take on new challenges!”

Hometown: Taipei City, Taiwan

Fun fact about yourself:

* I have lived in 7 countries until now.

* I broke my jaw while cycling around Erhai Lake in China. After emergency surgery in Taiwan, I returned to successfully circumnavigate the Lake and vanquished any lingering fears. Nowadays, cycling has become one of my favorite exercises.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business and Bachelor of Art in Journalism, National Chengchi University (Taipei, Taiwan)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Longsys Electronics, Taipei, Taiwan, account manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? PhysIQ, Chicago, Ill. (remote work in 2020)

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Awarded Kelley Coin Prize for leadership, integrity, and excellence
  • Awarded the Forté fellowship full tuition for leadership potential
  • Recipient of Carmella & Joseph Lazzara fellowship in recognition of my academic achievements and demonstrated leadership abilities in the first year of the MBA program
  • Recipient of the JCEI/IECE Chambers Fellows
  • President of Asian MBAA club
  • Chair of Hoosier Host Student Ambassadors
  • Chair of Globalization Committee, MBA student organization
  • Kelley Women Mentorship Program, mentor Kelley undergraduate female students
  • Kelley Care, community volunteer work
  • Faculty selected member of the Consulting Academy
  • Faculty selected member of Entrepreneurial Innovation Academy

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of hosting the International Potluck Party. Pre-pandemic, when exchange students joined Kelley, I noticed that besides classes, they usually stayed within their own circles and seldom had close connections with MBA students. As an international student, I struggled in the first semester and empathized with their challenge of involving with Kelley’s full time MBA students. Moreover, since we have limited full-time MBA students from Europe or Africa, leveraging their viewpoints enriched our MBA experiences. Since school or student organizations did not have any budget, I came up with hosting a big international potluck party.

I made it a fun project. I tested different marketing strategies and platforms to attract event awareness and boost participation rate., Considering that everyone enjoys trying different cuisines, potluck seemed to be a good potential event. The event witnessed more than 100 participants across Kelley MBA students, their partners, and exchange students. The event provided everyone with the platform to talk about their culture and food, showcase their talents, and (most importantly) offered an informal space to interact! After that, exchange students became a lot more involved with the Kelley MBA students.

Coincidentally, it was the last biggest in-person event before the COVID-19 pandemic. I leveraged the potluck party experience and hosted an online version of cultural events, which was extended to faculties and staff as well. Besides, I recruited six VPs from six different countries in the Asian MBAA Club and led multiple cultural events, further enriching the MBA program’s cross-cultural communication experience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I led the only team at the whole group that the customer didn’t demand air shipment or compensation after the 2013 Cambodia 10-day apparel worker strike. During the time, I was a team leader in the apparel manufacturing company/factory in Cambodia. The country witnessed its first major apparel worker strike. Half a million workers went on strike, which turned so violent that police opened fire and killed four people. Since this was the first time, no one in the factory knew how to deal with it. Our team passed by burnt tires and smashed windows on our way to work every day. My team members were so nervous that it soon started influencing their work routine.

I decided to act and gathered factory managers, monitored and analyzed daily situations, and decided that when union representatives show up at our front door, we would let local staffs leave. Besides, I planned with our driver for the evacuation routes in case of further danger. I allocated my team members to renegotiate with each department to prioritize our production and shipment once the strike was over. I kept in contact with our Japanese customers for daily updates and scenarios so that it could modify marketing plans accordingly.

The company reviewed and found that there was no protocol for dealing with a strike. To develop a more sustainable practice, I collaborated with the administration team to use our experience to develop a protocol.

Why did you choose this business school? I reached out to at least three people at each of the eight business schools on my list. Kelley’s students, alumni, and admission team brought my attention to its supportive and enthusiastic cultures. After getting the admit, I got an opportunity to connect with other MBA students as well. Moreover, Kelley Graduate Career Services’ expertise and ROI ranking were consistently ranked well. I know that my post-MBA career goal will be challenging, so a great career development support is crucial. After almost 1.5 years, I can say that I got one of the most memorable experiences.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Rockney Walters is my favorite MBA professor. I had his first-class right in the first pandemic lockdown last spring. While all the students were still adjusting with the new format, Professor Rockney Walters ensured to make the class interactive and energetic to an extent that it almost felt like an in-person class. Besides, he challenged our analytic and data-driven mindsets across varied marketing problems. His industrial consulting experiences also enhanced the depth of our learnings. Last fall, I took one of his other classes, which focused on pricing and ended up with strong takeaways for my post MBA career.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? MBA Tailgate is the best tradition at Kelley School of Business. Indiana University is one of the Big Ten universities and each home game witnesses a crazy celebration in this college town. Often, these tailgates are sponsored by different firms, faculties, students, and their partners. Everyone participates in these tailgates, providing a great opportunity to interact with those one couldn’t connect during regular MBA sessions. Pre-pandemic, we used to go to watch football games after tailgates to support the IU football team and further develop our IU united identity and pride.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?  Do not seek perfection for everything. I was very excited to start my MBA program and thought that I needed to get every experience from schoolwork, social life, and recruitment. I miscalculated challenges for studying in a foreign country. I had a very hard first semester, always sacrificing sleep hours and feeling stressed out. My mental health was very unstable. What helped, was when I started interacting more with people around me, slowed down, and built a more balanced student life. I could have set one core goal and given myself more flexibility for other aspects.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A small college town in the Midwest would be a boring place. It is the opposite!! Because it’s a college town, we have a closer MBA circle after class. Events also have a higher participation rate. Besides, Bloomington is home to almost 50K students who come from all around the world, which means a greater variety of food in the restaurants across town. I have enjoyed exploring different restaurants and have even exchanged our top restaurant lists.

What surprised you the most about business school?  Kelley’s supportive culture surprised me the most. In my first semester, I was not familiar with everything from schoolwork to recruitment. While I was struggling, my 2nd-year seniors, peers, and alumni always welcomed me to put a time on their calendars to practice casing, talk about making choices, chat about life stress, etc.

It is amazing how everyone is willing to spend time and effort without expecting anything in return. I have felt that Kelley students are not just highly competent, but are extremely warm individuals. I have embraced this kindness, in developing a better Kelley community.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose?  I dug deeply about my career and education and mapped what aligns closely with my goals. By understanding my true internal voice, I know what I want and pursued it with a strong mindset.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Oluwatobi Patrick is an amazing classmate. He initiated Kelley Diversity Champions, an extension of the Graduate Office of Diversity & Inclusion. He observed the lack of diversity and took the initiative to collaborate with all champions to build a more diverse and inclusive Kelley MBA experience. As part of Kelley Diversity Champions, I have worked closely with him. I know that he strived very hard to involve our idea to build diversity initiatives for Kelley Diversity Champions and make sure that our efforts will be sustainable even after we graduate. It’s not easy to take initiative when we have so many competing priorities in the MBA program. Inspired by his initiatives, I took actions to provide a better platform for multinational cultural exchanges in our MBA program as well. I love the idea of building our memorable MBA experiences with our own effort.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit?  We had online classes in the 2020 spring semester and hybrid environments after that. Kelley school did a great job to make sure that all professors got sufficient technical support before classes began. In the 2020 spring semester, technical teaching experts also visited some classes to confirm students had the same level of engagement in Zoom classrooms. From the learning viewpoint, nothing was disrupted. From the MBA social life viewpoint, most of the events are adjusted to an online structure, and the remaining events take extreme care for COVID-19 safety guidance. We have fewer social gatherings, which make our MBA experience very different from other years. However, student clubs, including my club and MBA office, tried different ideas to host supportive events for everyone go through the pandemic.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? When I was stuck in my career path, I talked to different friends to seek potential options. One of them was studying in the MBA program. I heard about an MBA degree in my undergraduate years but had never thought it deeply. I searched for information, evaluated my experiences, I realized that an MBA degree will give me better support, and it’s the right time to pursue it.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Developing a more collaborative leadership style
  2. Strengthen my analytical thinking.

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

“Wan-shu (Rita) Chou has been an active participant in life at Kelley since she arrived in Bloomington. As an international student from Taiwan, she experienced both the excitement and challenges of attending an MBA program in a new country and has worked hard to help students from all backgrounds feel welcome at Kelley.

Rita has dedicated a great deal of her time and energy to creating connections between international and domestic students. She is genuinely interested in her fellow students, and that shows in her dedication to creating a more inclusive environment among her classmates. She was part of the inaugural group of Diversity Champions – students who act as liaisons for student organizations and provide support through education on inclusion efforts. In this role, Rita spearheaded diversity training for incoming exchange students as part of their orientation. She also served as President of the Asian MBA Club and head of the MBA Association’s Globalization Committee. With her caring, creativity, and desire to have Kelley students feel included and connected to each other, Rita has made a lasting contribution to her classmates and our community.”

Emily Stern
Director of Student Services and Global Programs



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