Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Hahn Chang, IESE Business School

Hahn Chang

IESE Business School

“I’m an idealistic problem-solver who tries to embrace the ridiculousness of life with joy.”

Hometown: Maple Grove, Minnesota

Fun Fact About Yourself: Nicki Minaj once called me her hero.

Undergraduate School and Major: Columbia University, Political Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Right before coming to IESE, I worked at Vault Health, where I was a Senior Manager of Expansion and Clinical Operations. Specifically, I was setting-up and overseeing COVID-19 vaccine clinics across the US that have collectively administered over 500,000 doses to date!

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The heterogeneity of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds at IESE is truly not to be underestimated. To give you a small sampling of the diversity in my section alone, we have an American who lived on oil rigs in Egypt and Israel, a Brazilian who worked on preventing corruption in Angola, an Indian who started her own business, and a Kuwaiti who helped open the first Wendy’s in his country. Given this, people come to class having analyzed business ethics dilemmas, strategy cases, and marketing simulations from their own lived experiences.

That is why for every team preparation meeting and class, I enter with the humility that I will learn from others. This is what makes IESE so special. Managers need this humility, intellectual flexibility, and cross-cultural understanding to succeed in business and as leaders, and I believe IESE’s diversity and case methodology is a really cool and effective way to get there.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA?: Barcelona is an amazing city. As a native Minnesotan, I appreciate being able to wear shorts outside in “winter.”

Another one of my favorite things about Barcelona is exploring the city by walking and biking through it. Barcelona has done a lot to put people at the center of the urban design, and as a result it is a really easy city to see the beauty of and navigate.

Furthermore, Barcelona is an amazing hub to travel in and out of its borders. If you like hiking, you can go on beautiful hikes in Tibidabo here in Barcelona, Montserrat an hour and a half away, or the Pyrenees, which are only two hours away. If you like the beach, you can stay here in Barceloneta, scuba dive in Costa Brava, or visit Mallorca or any of the other dazzling cities on the Mediterranean. If you like cultural sites, you can go to one of the many amazing museums here, visit Girona just an hour away, or fly to Rome for a weekend. The possibilities are endless and that is truly something special about going to school in Barcelona.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the IESE Business School MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I was looking to go to a business school that was academically rigorous. IESE has definitely been that and, as a result, I feel like I have learned a tremendous amount, even after just one term. At IESE you will learn the bread-and-butter skills of business (e.g., marketing, accounting, strategy etc.). More importantly, the professors and your classmates will tie in real life examples and ethical quandaries that push your learning. For example, I knew nothing of accounting when I came in, but I loved Professor Marc Badia’s class where not only did I learn the fundamentals of financial accounting, but also got to understand how accounting affects business’ strategies and thinking through the ethics of various companies’ accounting practices.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at IESE? My favorite class at IESE has been Analysis of Business Problems, which is part strategy class and part preparation for the case methodology. My professor for this class, Edi Soler, was a truly amazing instructor (as all of my professors at IESE have been thus far).

What makes this my favorite class is the different ways that all of my classmates saw the problem and potential solutions. Oftentimes, I was convinced I had ‘solved’ the case, only to see a classmate present a creative and elegant solution that I had not even considered. While it’s been humbling, it’s also sharpened my critical thinking and even after class, I found myself talking with my classmates about the cases to pick their brains on how they thought about things to further understand their perspectives.

Finally, Edi makes the class a safe space. You are allowed to make mistakes (and I have definitely made my fair share) and he pushes your thinking gently with genuine care. Also, it was pretty cool that after we finished a case where we discussed a local brewing company, Edi provided us with some of their beers to enjoy after the class!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2020, I was the Campaign Manager for a Congressional campaign in rural Minnesota. I was working for a Democrat in a district President Trump had carried by 15 points in 2016. While we narrowly lost in 2020, I was incredibly proud of our team and how they handled themselves amidst not only a difficult political campaign, but also COVID-19 and the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis. I know how difficult and stressful it was for them, as it was for everyone around the world, and I tried my best to be there for them.

But even more than any of my actions, I saw each and every one of them showing their care for one another, our volunteers, and the people of southern Minnesota. Everyone on our team went above and beyond their job descriptions, from compiling community resources in the early, chaotic days of COVID-19, listening on the phone to strangers feeling lonely amidst the lockdown period, and organizing for racial equity and justice.

Professional environments like that are special and I think it was a big testament to the candidate I worked for, Dan Feehan, and the entire team. Even though we lost, I am proud that we collectively built a culture where our staff felt cared for, excited, and empowered, and where they lived out a spirit of service.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: One of my favorite things about IESE is how much people help one another out. Whether it’s a teammate explaining accounting concepts to me or a classmate helping me improve my Spanish, there is a culture of sharing your skills and experiences to help others. For me, I am proud that I have helped several classmates with case interviews. I previously worked as a management consultant and co-led recruiting at my office for Business Analysts. In that role, I interviewed candidates and I have used that experience to help my classmates navigate case interviews at consulting firms. What’s been especially exciting is seeing a couple of friends I helped land offers at their dream companies. It’s been incredibly rewarding to see!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the IESE MBA program? IESE prides itself on its values and it really isn’t for show. The values are embedded in every aspect of the school and that is something that they look for in the application: Are you a person who lives out these values in your professional career and in your life as a whole? I think that showing this in the essays, asking your recommenders to highlight this, and talking about it in the interviews is incredibly important.

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