Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Sean Oh, MIT (Sloan)

Sean Oh

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“Tadashi from Big Hero 6 but enjoys playing sports as much as creating cool things.”

Hometown: Cerritos, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: I once ate Hot Cheetos Puffs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because I didn’t want to walk to the dining hall. As expected, I regretted it the next day

Undergraduate School and Major: Dartmouth College: BA in Computer Science modified with Engineering Sciences

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Product Manager II at Microsoft

What word best describes the MIT Sloan MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Eclectic. An unfounded fear I had was that everyone in MBA programs would hold the same type-A, hard-nosed, corporate persona. In past months, I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by the wide-range of personalities that I’ve met thus far. The Sloan Admissions Office has done an amazing job creating a diverse community and everyone I’ve met has been incredibly unique both in experience and character.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of MIT Sloan’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I’m particularly attracted to how integrated Sloan’s entrepreneurial program is with the rest of the MIT campus. MIT hosts an incredible amount of talent as a technical institution and I’m excited to participate in coursework with fellow students across the entire university. The opportunity to join an environment that encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration aligns with my desire to find a co-founder with whom I can create a software-based startup.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at MIT Sloan? I’m most excited to (hopefully) be a part of delta v. The summer accelerator helps young founders take their startups from inception to launch and I can’t think of a program better fit for my interests. The access to mentorship and coaching is significant on its own, but it’s the community of like-minded entrepreneurs that I’m eager to learn from and contribute to.

Action Learning Labs are one of MIT Sloan’s biggest attractions. Which lab interests you most? How does it fit with your interests? The E-Lab is definitely where I see myself becoming deeply involved in. As someone interested in creating my own venture, I’m excited to get paired with emerging startups and gain first-hand experience on the various product strategies that founders use and learn directly from their successes and failures.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How have your experiences with the Sloan program thus far reinforced or upended these early impressions? Innovation is the first thing I think of when I hear MIT. Whether it’s pushing the state-of-the-art in technological advancements or introducing new products that enhance users’ lives, students and faculty at MIT are obsessed with creating value in never-before-seen ways. As I learn more about how Sloanies have helped turn these innovations into new ventures, I can’t help but be excited to become an active contributor in this community.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In my second and third year at Microsoft, I led the product development of the new Start Menu and File Explorer features on Windows 11. For both features, our primary focus was to create a product that truly puts ALL users at the center of their device. Inclusive design was a must and I believe was achieved as a result of the concerted effort we placed on comprehensive user research and feature experimentation. After years of leading cross-disciplinary teams across the organization, I felt so relieved and accomplished when our work was publicly released and met with high praise.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 was the first time I really felt vulnerable. Prior to the pandemic, I had assumed that I had my whole life to try new things and focused primarily on developing core competencies and creating the foundation for my career. The objective was great, but I could feel that mindset subtly transforming into comfort and complacency. Once the pandemic started, I truly understood that “anything can happen,” including the unfortunate. The dreams I had as a kid of starting my own company still existed and I realized that I needed to let go of what I’m comfortable with and be more proactive and a bit brazen to live a life without regret.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? While my experience leading product development at Microsoft has made me confident in my ability to design and deliver new products, I recognize that I lack knowledge in marketing, business strategy, operations, and a host of other skills needed to lead a successful startup. I believe an MBA program will provide a safe environment for me to learn these skills in an academic and experiential setting and will offer a network of resources who are excited to help guide me through each stage of the startup process.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?

Stanford GSB

Harvard Business School

UPenn Wharton

Northwestern Kellogg

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into MIT Sloan’s MBA program? Don’t try to force your application to portray a certain persona that you think might fit Sloan. The beauty of the program is that it brings together an extensive mix of people who push each other to think in new ways. It’s your unique background and perspective that accentuates your value so be sure to let that shine through!

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