Meet the MBA Class of 2024: John Kim Song, Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

John Kim Song

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Dad (to a crazy toddler boy), husband, Chilean-Korean-American, always curious, always learning.”

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

Fun Fact About Yourself: My parents are from South Korea, but I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile for the first twelve years of my life. So Spanish is my native language even though I’m ethnically Korean.

Undergraduate School and Major: Illinois Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Alstom, Project Planner

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Carnegie Mellon’s MBA curriculum and programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One of the biggest reasons that I chose Carnegie Mellon is because it is a unique school that has a quant-heavy curriculum that truly embraces data science and analytics. The world’s business problems are becoming more complex and being able to make data-driven decisions will be critical. While I may not be creating all the models or doing the heavy analytics work, it’s critical that I’m able to understand the process and speak to what’s happening behind-the-scenes.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Carnegie Mellon? I’m really looking forward to being part of the Latin American Business Club. I look forward to contributing to the Latin community in any way I can, connecting with others and getting to speak as much Spanish as possible. The class I’m most looking forward to is the negotiations class. Being good at negotiating is a skill that will help me both in business and life.

The Tepper MBA is known for intensive one-on-one coaching and personal development. What area do you hope to strengthen during your two years in business school and why? Leadership. I want to become an effective leader who makes the right decisions while lifting others. Winning together is incredibly important. At Tepper, I’m fortunate to have the Accelerated Leadership Center to help me understand how to improve as a leader and increase my emotional intelligence.

The Tepper MBA is also known for being highly data-driven Why does the program’s focus on quantitative analysis and decision-making appeal to you? How have been able to leverage this approach in your career so far? The program’s focus on quantitative analysis and decision-making appeals to me because that’s where the world is headed. We see how this approach has been successful in sports, advertising, and other aspects of life. Future business leaders will need to have a good grasp on how to properly use and interpret data. When I was at General Electric, data analysis was crucial to ensuring that corrective action plans to machining defects were effective and sustainable.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Getting into the Tepper School of Business’ MBA program must be my biggest career accomplishment so far. I’m the first in my family to go to college. I used to commute through campus always wondering what it would be like to be part of Tepper School of Business. So being in this position today feels surreal and I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I listen to a lot of podcasts. My favorite podcast is Bloomberg’s “Odd Lots” podcast. Every week, they do a deep dive into something that’s happening in business and markets. I’ve learned a lot about business and finance just by listening despite my non-business background.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Carnegie Mellon’s MBA program? My first piece of advice is that not everything is about the numbers (GMAT/GPA). The Tepper community is a community of people first. I’d argue that understanding what makes Tepper unique, how it fits with your goals, and what you’re looking for in an MBA program is more important. My second piece of advice is that you need to get to know the community! Reach out to current students and alumni. Lastly, as cliché as it sounds, be yourself. Be genuine when you write your essays, connect with others, and during the admissions interview.


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