Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Noreen Rachel Wu, Ivey Business School

Noreen Rachel Wu

Ivey Business School at Western University

“First-generation Philippine-born Chinese Vancouverite from Los Angeles. Social entrepreneur. Architecture nerd. Comedic relief.”

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a growing collection of architecture postcards from my travels. My favorite is of the Teshima Art Museum by Ryue Nishizawa.

Graduate School and Major: University of Southern California, Bachelor of Architecture

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: WRN Consulting, Principal CEO

How has the case method enriched your learning? Each case, like a script, is an opportunity for me to play the role of an executive and make real business decisions. The case method has influenced my ability to improvise, communicate effectively, and think critically about the short and long-term implications of my choices. Engaging in active learning and discussion has made me a better listener and decision-maker. I take risks and step out of my comfort zone on the daily.

Aside from classmates and cases, what part of the school’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Across every interaction I had with the school, whether it be with current students, alum, professors, or the recruitment team, one thing was consistent: the quality of relationships. It seems cliché to say that being at Ivey feels like a being part of a family, but it is true. Apart from the obvious merits of an MBA, Ivey offers a genuine and welcoming connection that I witnessed during a class visit prior to applying. It is this culture that I wanted to be a part of, contribute to, and instill into future boardrooms.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Generous. My colleagues are self-less givers. There are an overwhelming number of classmates who will stay up until the wee hours of the night to help those who may be struggling with unfamiliar material. They always have time for you. Their doors are always open – literally.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:

When I ask people how they are, their default response has almost always been, “I’m busy.” I hear it everywhere, whether I am catching up with an old friend or networking. Everyone is busy, scheduled down to the half-hour for Zoom meetings and non-work-related happy hours. Being busy is universally accepted, praised even, as the trait of a hard-working employee…having nothing to do is being lazy.

My busy life abruptly stopped in 2019 when I was forced to leave my job, apartment, and community in Los Angeles over visa issues. Almost overnight, my once double-booked calendar cleared, and my phone notifications stopped buzzing. For once, I was really not busy. The absence of work felt like a void — a silence I needed to fill. Instinctively, I tried to schedule hangouts, but everyone was (apparently) busy.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment in my career is the valuable insight I gained from time alone. Busy-ness is a self-imposed stressor, proudly worn as a badge of honour, masking exhaustion and anxiety. Everyone is not busy; they are tired. I had been a slave to this for years.

Now, as an entrepreneur, I never say I am busy. I believe in hustle and rest, in not burning both ends of the candle. I am against productivity without purpose. I am consciously enjoying the journey. I choose to enjoy life because after all, life is short. I live for time, not money.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I cannot take sole credit for my MBA accomplishments thus far; without the support of people who believed in me, I would not be here today. I have been fortunate to be awarded a Forté Fellow scholarship and, most recently, ranked in the finals for the 2021 MBA Showcase case competition. Is it a big deal for a designer to survive data analytics and finance? Perhaps.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My mission is to empower young creatives with marketable skills for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. Demand for professionals who specialize in proposal procurement is high, yet supply remains low. I sought to fill this need with the launch of my business in 2019, which to my surprise, attracted clients across the U.S. and Canada.

An MBA, coupled with my Architecture background, would grant me the credibility and business acumen to scale. To become a well-rounded leader, critically at this point in my career, I needed to leverage design thinking with analytical, strategic, and effective executive-level decision-making skills. There has not been a more appropriate time.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Rotman, University of Toronto

What did you do during the application process that enabled you to get accepted into Ivey? I developed a genuine relationship with Ivey. We first met two years prior in Los Angeles and hit it off. We kept in contact. A year later, I was invited for an in-person visit. I met with the dean. I thanked and shared my honest review – I even sent a hand-written holiday card later that year. COVID-19 delayed my plans, but eventually, we reconnected, and I finally sent in my application.

Be honest and open. Embrace your authenticity.


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