2022 MBA To Watch: Jenny Zhang, Ivey Business School

Jenny Zhang

Ivey Business School at Western University

“An empathetic leader motivated to problem solve and make positive contributions to society.”

Hometown: Windsor, ON

Fun fact about yourself: I have travelled to five out of the seven continents and am hoping to travel to the last two soon (waiting to travel to Antarctica and Australia)!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Toronto, Honours Bachelor of Arts

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was as a Marketing Coordinator overseeing social media marketing for RGAX, the innovation and investment arm of the Reinsurance Group of America.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? N/A. Ivey is a one-year program.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining Monitor Deloitte as a Senior Consultant in their Strategy & Business Design practice.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:
Lean In Canada Scholar
President, MBA Association
3rd Place Winner, Morrissette Entrepreneurship MBA Business Plan Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Our class started this year knowing that the “traditional” MBA experience was going to be impacted by COVID. Despite this, the entire MBA Association (MBAA) team, which holds over 120 student-led positions, relentlessly found creative ways to elevate and better our student experience. I am most proud of the fact that I was trusted by this incredible group of leaders to lead our class through this phase of the pandemic to roar the MBAA back to life and develop a fun, supportive, and inclusive class culture that can be best described as a group of people who always came together to both overcome challenges and celebrate everyone’s successes. Even under pandemic conditions, we were able to find creative ways to run most of our traditional MBA events including legacy social events, mentorship programs, and conferences, and found new ways to bring the class together. One of my personal highlights of the year was spearheading an inaugural class trip to Toronto that allowed current students to have fun exploring one of the biggest cities in Canada and informally connect with multiple generations of Ivey grads who came together to celebrate the Class of 2022.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Truthfully, I believe my professional career is just beginning. Over the first three years of my career, I am most proud of the fact that I always held myself accountable to the mindset of accepting any challenge that was thrown my way. Whether it was starting a net-new marketing program to bolstering existing processes, I believe that it was my mindset that allowed me to make the most of both of my previous roles. I walked away with a strong foundation of functional, industry, and soft skill expertise that I was able to build upon further throughout my MBA.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose this school for three main reasons: the academics, people, and the often-over-looked gut feeling. In Canada, the Ivey Business School distinguishes itself in both categories through the Case Method of learning and its strong alumni and class networks. Having now gone through the entire experience, I can confidently say that I made the right choice on both fronts. The Case Method of learning was unlike anything else I had experienced in a classroom before, as it pushed me to think more critically about the problem at hand and become quicker on my feet. It has also become clear why the alumni and class network are so powerful. The pay-it-forward mentality was showcased throughout recruiting events by all generations of previous Ivey grads and there are countless strong bonds that have formed between classmates over the course of the year. The last point of the “gut feeling” is hard to quantify. However, I truly believe that if you’re meant to be at Ivey, you’ll feel it through every touchpoint you have with the school during the admissions process, whether it’s with the admissions team, alumni, or future potential classmates.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor this year was Vaughan Radcliffe, who taught our class the fundamentals of accounting. Vaughan taught this class in our Core 1 period, which is often noted by Ivey students as one of the most challenging periods of the program, given the adjustment to course workload and the difficulty of the subjects. Over the course of the semester, it became very clear that he cares about his students deeply. At every opportunity he had, Vaughan made sure that he was doing what was best for his students, by actively listening to student feedback and making himself available to chat with students to further explain course content. He did this all while providing encouragement and his words of wisdom at each step of the way.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favourite MBA event this year was the Ivey Olympics, which is an annual student-run event that puts teams of Ivey MBA students together to participate in a fun and competitive day of physical and mental challenges. What made this year extra special was the timing of the event. The event happened shortly after another set of pandemic restrictions were lifted and the entire class was able to come together to engage in a full day of fun activities and bonding. The event turnout, as well as the level of energy and engagement seen throughout the day, reflects the amount of enthusiasm and passion that our class for spending time with each other, which helps build out our unique Class of 2022 community.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? There is little that I regret about this MBA experience because I genuinely feel that I had one of the most incredible years of my life, both in terms of personal and professional development. But if there’s one thing that I would have done differently, it’s a small mindset shift of saying no when appropriate. The program does such a great job at providing countless opportunities for you to spend your time doing, but sometimes saying no gives you the opportunity to say yes to things that truly matter to you.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think one of the biggest myths about Ivey is that the one-year program isn’t enough for students to make a career pivot. From personal experience, I can say that this is simply not true. I came into this MBA program with concentrated experience in one industry and function, with the hopes of transitioning into management consulting. Despite my background, I was able to see myself pursuing a career in consulting. The school equips you with so many tools through coursework, career management resources, and networking opportunities. You just need to put in the work to get there!

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most about business school is how prominent the concept of teamwork is. While it didn’t come as a shock that we were put into situations where we had to lean on our classmates throughout the year, it did surprise me just how much this concept permeated almost every aspect of our academic careers here. There were learning teams (mandated groups of 6-7 students that met together daily to go through case discussions for the next day), group projects, breakout discussions in class, and extra-curricular teams. All these team activities make this experience an immersive one that forces you to get to know so much of your cohort, which helps so much in developing your personal community at school and the general class community.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? The biggest thing I did outside of the typical activities that come with putting together a holistic application process was actively working with the admissions team. Working with the admissions team at Ivey was unlike any of the other schools that I had applied to. They work with each candidate very personally, and I could immediately tell that they were genuine in their intentions to help find the program that fit best for me, even if it didn’t end up being Ivey. The team was a great sounding board when I had questions and was also a wealth of information when I wanted to know more (not just with program information, but also with connecting me with the right alumni to get different perspectives). Having access to this support and information gave me the full confidence to know that I was making the right decision and helped me start the year off in a great mindset.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This question was the hardest one of all! We truly have an incredible community of 175 classmates whom I admire. However, if I had to pick one, it would be Omar Mawlawi. Omar came into this program as an engineer, which helped define him as one of the powerhouse resources that our class leaned on during some of the tougher stretches of coursework. But what really made him stand out is that he is a true team player. He showcased his genuine kindness throughout the year and was always willing to help anyone that asked for it. I have absolutely no doubt that Omar is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the business world.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents as one team. My parents are first generation immigrants to Canada and were fearless in paving their own paths even in the face of uncertainties. They have always made in their mission to create a space for me to learn, laugh, and grow in my own unique way. When I decided that business school was going to be the path for me, both encouraged me to chase my dreams and continued to be two of my biggest cheerleaders. As a Ph.D. in neuroscience, my dad has always cared about the development and wellness of people in society. He exemplified for me what it means to be hard-working and humble. My mom has always treated those around her with empathy and kindness, which is something that I have seen time-and-time again throughout my life. All these traits deeply resonate with me, and I hope that I will continue to foster these traits as I move forward in my professional career.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top two items in my professional bucket list are to start my own venture and spend meaningful time at an international non-governmental organization like the World Economic Forum. I was bit with the entrepreneurial bug during my time at Ivey. As a result, I’ve spent some time over the year trying to figure out the nuts-and-bolts of starting up a business in the wine industry. I found this experience to be fascinating and thrilling, and I hope that I’ll be able to embark on an entrepreneurial journey again one day. Spending time at an international non-governmental organization will give me the opportunity to blend my political science and business background to hopefully help shape global policy and foster collaborative international projects and initiatives.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I have always considered myself a people person. I liked going into the office to work and chit-chat with my colleagues, whether it was for a work project or just getting to know someone better. However, over the course of the pandemic, I have felt this mindset slowly shift. I still very much believe in the importance of in-person interactions, but I can see how a blend of in-person and virtual can add to efficiencies in the workplace and better control over one’s time. If you had asked me prior to the pandemic if I would consider a position that was hybrid, I most likely would have said no. Having worked through this pandemic as both a professional and a student, I am now much more open to this concept.

What made Jenny Zhang such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“As the President of the MBA Class of 2022, Jenny has faced challenges throughout with the pandemic while trying to create a memorable experience with her classmates.  Jenny’s calm demeanor along with her leadership has allowed her to excel in her role and be a role model for the entire class.  Working with Jenny in her role, she has proven to be thoughtful, caring and leads with integrity during a year in which there was constant change. Jenny has proven to be invaluable member of this cohort and I look forward to seeing her evolve in her future career with the same competencies she has exhibited this past year.”

Mindy Studnicka
Director, MBA Program Services
Ivey Business School


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