2021 MBAs To Watch: Yoojin Jang, Wharton School

Yoojin Jang

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“Google calendar enthusiast, advanced scuba diver, and my sister’s best friend.”

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Fun fact about yourself: I changed the way all Wharton students communicate on an hourly and daily basis. At Wharton, I became a “Slack fairy” for pioneering the migration from GroupMe to Slack. I met with the CFO of Slack, Allen Shim (W’02), to persuade Wharton to adopt the communication platform. We are now on Slack! To this day, I am still the administrator with full control of our workspaces.

Undergraduate School and Degree:  UC Berkeley – B.A. Statistics and B.A. Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PwC Consulting – M&A Tech Media and Telecom, Senior Associate
Where did you intern during the summer of 2020?

McKinsey & Company – Dallas, United States (I opted out due to COVID-19)

KTB Asset Management – Seoul, Korea

Where will you be working after graduation? I deferred my offer for McKinsey to launch a real estate startup in the US. I want to create a marketplace for residential property managers.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

School Awards: Joseph J. Knowles Fellowship, 1st Place Winner of Wharton Pitch Competition, Unsung Hero Award

Leadership Roles: Student Life Fellow, Alumni Fellow, Wharton Real Estate Club (CFO, VP Treks), Korea Club (VP Social), Teaching Assistant for Real Estate Development

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was most proud when I helped friends secure offers from management consulting firms. I created a 22-page document with tips to nail case interviews. I led virtual case interview workshops and circulated the guide to friends in the Wharton Korea club, Consulting Club, and beyond. In January 2021, I received emails from first year classmates sharing wonderful news on their offer(s)! Getting to know everyone I mentored on a personal level was special.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2017, I was a first-year senior associate at PwC and my client was a semiconductor company that wanted to capture more market share. I was proud of this project because of the impact I brought. I led weekly CFO discussions, executed a 100-day plan, and on-boarded the client’s new team members. Also, this was one of my toughest projects. I learned to remain calm while working under constant pressure.

Why did you choose this business school? I fell in love with Wharton at the Winter Welcome Weekend. The level of energy and enthusiasm from the student body exceeded any summer camps I have been to (and I’ve been to many). My sister Seoyoung, who will be graduating from Columbia Business School this May, was my plus one. After seeing how energized I was throughout the schedule-packed weekend, she said, “Wharton is the school for you”. She was right.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Nakahara! I am one of the two Teaching Assistants for his real estate development class. He not only introduced so many interesting aspects of real estate but also taught us so much about life. Professor Nakahara ends each class with life lessons such as the importance of reputation, luck, and finding a life partner (I am still working on the last piece). His classes encouraged me to rethink my priorities and I thank him for that.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? At Storytellers Slam, classmates share their stories in front of a 100+ audience. Each story left me amazed by the speakers’ insights and the obstacles they have overcome. It’s no surprise that the slam tickets sell out fast! Pre-COVID, I dropped by Penn’s computer lab and used a satellite timer to secure my seat when the ticket sales opened. I love listening to stories with a glass of wine in hand and appreciate the speakers’ courage to be vulnerable. Storytellers Club slams exemplify Wharton’s willingness to make deeper connections. I came to business school to be more open to sharing who I am. Thanks to storytellers, I strengthened my bond with my classmates.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish I had spent more time hanging out in Huntsman Hall, Wharton’s iconic building. In the hallways, I ran into friends I have not seen for a while and made plans to catch up. I sat down in the MBA cafe propped with my laptop and invited friends to join me before class. If I could do it again, I would make more time for these small serendipitous moments. I miss these memories of our in-person experience and even the times scrambling to compete with undergrads to book group study rooms.

What is the biggest myth about your school? “Wharton students are too competitive.” False! Whartonites are go-getters with goals and dreams. We invest in each other and celebrate each other’s success.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised by how transformative the past two years have been for me. Business school is a journey and not a destination. I used to think that getting into the best business school would solve my insecurities and make me a super “business leader.” It does not. Business school gives you the tools to refine your skills and identify blind spots. The rest is up to you.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Doing my due diligence to picture myself at Wharton helped me the most. Before applying, I visited the campus twice, spoke with over 20 Wharton grads, and sat in three classes. The MBA application process is exhausting and I wanted to apply to schools that I was serious about attending. My research paid off and I also demonstrated my commitment for Wharton.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I respect my friend Oscar Wong the most. I knew of Oscar from a mutual friend in the Bay Area, but we never crossed paths until our first semester at Wharton. I admire his curiosity, experience scaling Google China, and perspectives on business. Outside of class, he has a unique way of bringing friends from different walks of life together. He is passionate about making education more accessible, especially for first-generation college students. At the Wharton Asian American Association of MBAs, Oscar won the most eligible bachelor award last year and I hope he wins again this year!

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? The shift was very disruptive. No one was ready for an online experience. Wharton adopted Zoom and provided funds for students to buy tools that support online learning. Professors hosted more office hours to accommodate students abroad. My classmates remained resilient and thought of creative ways to stay connected. While the online learning experience improved over the semester, I hope the Class of 2022 gets an in-person MBA experience soon.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I studied statistics and economics in college. Managers and partners at PwC who went to business schools encouraged me to apply. In particular, Mike Pegler and Sid Mehra helped me think through when to apply and what my focus area should be in business school. I loved hearing about their stories from school. Both Mike and Sid inspired me to become competent and caring leaders like them.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Wharton has amazing resources that helped me explore my goals.

My first goal is to create an environment where more Korean women will be in leadership positions. I founded a mentorship nonprofit to redirect Korean women to break gender norms. Helping others reach their full potential gives me so much joy.

My other professional goal is to solve the housing crisis in Korea. Housing is a basic and fundamental human right. Unfortunately, hardworking people cannot buy homes due to restrictive mortgage rules and rising home prices in Seoul.

What made Yoojin such an invaluable member of the Class of 2021?

“Yoojin Jang is an exceptional Wharton citizen. She is a student leader with various leadership roles across the School. Last spring, when everything moved to a virtual format, Yoojin was the Wharton Graduate Association (WGA) representative tasked with getting the MBA Program administration and Wharton Computing to upgrade the School’s Slack account. Yoojin had meetings with the administration on behalf of the student body to get this implemented, recognizing the need for building community in a world of social isolation.

In addition to her role with the WGA, Yoojin is the Real Estate Club CFO and VP Treks; Korea Club VP of Social; and a Wildmen Hockey player. She is also a recent entrepreneur, having been named the 1st place winner of the 2021 Wharton Pitch Competition with her proptech start-up OnHouse, an online marketplace for property managers. In the classroom, Yoojin is double majoring in real estate and finance at Wharton. She is the recipient of the merit-based Joseph J. Knowles fellowship for exceptional academic, personal, and professional achievements. Yoojin also holds the coveted spot of TA for Professor Nakahara’s extremely popular Real Estate Development class.

Career-wise, despite an incredibly disruptive summer internship process, Yoojin was able to secure two internships – one at McKinsey and one at KTB Asset Management Co. in South Korea. Students across the globe have faced unprecedented uncertainty and challenges, yet responded with tenacity and grit. Yoojin more so than some others. She headed back to S. Korea last spring to be with her family and has been there since March. Despite being on a 14-hour time difference, she has been attending classes, creating a business, winning competitions, being a friend and mentor to other students, and staying fully plugged into the Wharton community (mostly over Slack!).”

Colleen France
Senior Associate Director for MBA Career Management

“Yoojin brings so much to the classroom and any situation requiring excellence. First, of course she is a terrific student. Her curiosity and drive to learn are notable. But, not only did she take my second year class as a first year student, but she returned to audit the class as a second year student to learn the material cold. This required her waking up in time for a 5 a.m. local time class start. When I needed a second Teaching Assistant for the class after the course had started, she willingly signed up, adding ‘work’ to her auditing focus.

Second, as a TA, she is outstanding. The TA role for this course requires intellect, people/communication skills, problem solving, and extraordinary attention to detail. Yoojin is clearly a ‘doer’ and keeps the class moving at pace and super-organized, which is no small feat given the complexities of multiple guest speakers each week and numerous student assignments and projects. She addresses the immediate question, and like an expert chess player, answers the next few questions as well. Yoojin is very willing to ask questions and suggest better options. Third, I was able to see Yoojin in yet another light. She recently won the Wharton Pitch Competition with a start-up she is pursuing. Before the finals, she reached out and asked if I would give her comments and advice on her pitch. I was impressed by her clarity of thought, the clear amount of diligence behind the presentation, her extensive preparation, and her calm when I asked ‘tough questions’.  I am not surprised that she won the competition and given what I’ve seen from her as a student and TA, I expect great success for her in this and other endeavors. Intellect and work ethic are the ante for Wharton students. What separates Yoojin from the pack is her extraordinary drive, insatiable curiosity, and bent for excellence.  She does this with all with humility and grace. She is someone you want to have succeed.”

Asuka Nakahara
Practice Professor of Real Estate and Associate Director of the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center

DON’T MISS: THE FULL LIST OF MBAS TO WATCH IN 2021

 

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