Meet The MBA Class Of 2023: Daniel Park, Harvard Business School

Daniel Park

Harvard Business School

“Immigrant turned Army Officer with keen interest in minority-owned small businesses.”

Hometown: Irvine, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself:   Yes, I am the guy who watched the cliché military commercials and joined the Army right after high school.

Undergraduate School and Major: United States Military Academy – Systems Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Army –Signal Officer

What word best describes the Harvard Business School students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Empathetic. I think it comes from the program’s focus on the case method, which largely values one’s ability to put him or herself in others’ position to understand the problem at hand. I am excited to be surrounded by individuals who are not only diverse and unique in their own way, but also sincere and empathetic towards others.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? It’s a cliché, but there is a saying in the military that the plan never survives first contact with the enemy. This is an important similarity between the private and military sector. Decisions are made with imperfect information in a complex environment. The case method, in my opinion, is the closest one can get to simulating this decision-making process without real-world repercussions. This type of training exercise is critical to enable students to find their management styles hone their decision-making skills, under pressure, under multiple sets of circumstances.

Aside from your classmates and cases, what was the key part of Harvard Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? There were two major contributors to HBS’s programming that led me to choose the school. First, was the case method: I truly believe this is one of the most adaptive, high pressure and realistic scenario-based learning programs available. The level of preparation this method provides is unmatched. Second, is HBS recently piloted a new course with the goal of helping minority owned small businesses. I grew up with Korean parents who owned a local contracting company and I have experienced first hands the challenges associate with minority owned small businesses. This course hits close to home for me, and I am both curious and excited to study my own family’s situation from an academic perspective and go on to use this acquired knowledge to help others like us.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Harvard Business School? I am looking forward to the Management Consulting and Impact Investing clubs because I believe they will help me develop my toolsets within the business setting. Coming from a military background, I know I will have to take the initiative and time to deep-dive into learning about these business tenets.

When you think of Harvard Business School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Resolute. HBS is an incredibly competitive school, with go-getters from all walks of life and all different diverse backgrounds. The world resolute encapsulates this goal-oriented, purposeful and unwavering determination that brought many of the students here and will propel them toward success afterward. I look forward to learning from them all.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Planned and executed the deployment and redeployment operations for an organization of 120 personnel.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? I watched my parents and other small-business owners struggle to weather the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. I realized that action must be taken to help struggling small businesses in unprecedented disasters. The impact a small business has on a community is immense.  I realized that I want to work toward having a positive impact on these local businesses.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I have been fortunate to experience three different functional areas within the Army which taught me a lot about my interests and drive, and I wanted to take the skillsets that I have learned to make a broader impact in the private sector. I would like to continue learning and growing as much as I can, and ultimately take these skills and apply them to assist small businesses.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB, Tuck, MIT

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Harvard Business School’s MBA program? Take the time to understand your own drives and aspirations as well as who you are as a person. Boiling that down so that others can understand who you are and why you would be a good fit for a program. Think deeply about these questions and ensure that you can express the answers in a coherent and relatable manner. Your experience is only part of the equation. Your ability to convey this is also a critical skill.


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