Meet the MBA Class of 2024: April Chung, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

April Chung

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“A passionate, purposeful, and positive leader bringing the fun to fun-ance.”

Fun Fact About Yourself: My sorority chapter voted to name a merit-based scholarship after me to recognize my dedication to making the sorority experience financially inclusive.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Minnesota, Economics.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Financial Analyst, General Mills.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA curriculum or programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Kellogg is a leader in pioneering MBA programs that are hyper-relevant to prospective students. With long-term aspirations to be an enterprise finance leader, I was looking for a program that would accelerate my career trajectory. A principal reason why I decided to attend Kellogg was the one-year program, also known as 1Y, which has a prerequisite of required courses. It provided the desired fast pace with the rigor of a top business school without sacrificing traditional two-year MBA benefits such as internships through the experiential learning courses. The immediate access to electives through the 1Y program allows me to build on my professional background in business and customize my experience to develop new skills to propel my career forward in a way that no other programs could.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? The faculty at Kellogg is exceptional. We have many professors who are distinguished in their fields and that genuinely care about the success of their students. While it’s hard to choose one, I am especially excited to take a negotiations course with Professor Victoria Medvec. I believe negotiations is a fundamental influencing skill that is hard to master but can be career defining with high-impact implications.

What has been your first impression of the Kellogg MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Kellogg story so far. At Kellogg, we have a unique orientation experience called Kellogg Worldwide Exploration Student Trips, endearingly known as KWEST. I had the opportunity to go to Norway with 19 other incoming students from across all the different full-time programs (1Y, 2Y, MMM, MBAi, JD-MBA, and MD-MBA) and five second-year students who organized the trip.

In all honesty, I was nervous to embark on an international trip with a group of strangers who I barely knew. On top of that, we were not allowed to disclose any of our background information (hometown, relationship status, undergraduate school, job, etc.) until the ‘Big Reveal’ in the latter half of the trip. This unconventional tradition turned into one of my favorite aspects of the trip! Because we were forced outside of our comfort zone of solely relying on small talk, we quickly connected on a deeper level through more meaningful conversations that invited vulnerability and went far beyond surface-level facts. Topics ranged from how siblings have shaped who we are today to what attributes are most important in looking for a partner to our biggest fears about entering business school. In a short amount of time, this cohort of incredibly talented peers helped me develop a broader perspective. I truly learned a lot. While Norway was an unforgettable place with breathtaking natural beauty, the most memorable part of the trip was the conversations shared with my newfound KWESTie besties.

Needless to say, my first impression of Kellogg MBA students has been positive. They are some of the most genuine and warm people I have ever met.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? The fact that Kellogg is located in Evanston, a northern suburb of Chicago, means that you have the option to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy that only a college town can provide, or at a moment’s notice and take the train down to the hustle-and-bustle of a remarkable city with access to rich culture. It’s the best of both worlds! One of my favorite parts about Evanston is Lake Michigan. Whether it’s taking a jog along the river as the sun breaks over the water, or studying at the Global Hub with a view of the lake, sailboats, and Chicago skyline, the serenity of Lake Michigan has captured my heart.

Kellogg is known for a team-driven culture. What quality do you bring as a teammate and why will it be so important to the success of MBA class? Inclusive leadership style. Before working in a team setting, I invest time upfront to get to know my teammates and learn more about their backgrounds and passions. This strategy enables me to celebrate and value the unique perspective each person can bring. In a decision-making process, I aim to ask probing questions to draw out different perspectives and ensure everyone’s voice is represented. This results in an inclusive environment that allows for a more dynamic problem-solving approach and, in my experience, it ultimately produces innovative solutions. My goal is to inspire others to also practice an inclusive mindset which led me to seek a platform to motivate classmates as the elected Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) for the Kellogg Student Association (KSA).

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Though I have successfully driven business results translating to millions of dollars of positive financial returns, I hold a different kind of experience as my most significant accomplishment because it has inspired a paradigm shift in leadership toward the celebration of authenticity.

As a part of Asian Heritage Month in 2021, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel representing General Mills about model minority myths. The panel consisted of representatives from Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Mills, McDonald’s, and Walmart.

It was an important dialogue – not only to empower the Asian community to speak out against the pervasive discrimination in the workplace, but also to validate the pain endured by the community, many of whom had been silenced. This was an opportunity I took to educate allies about the fact that the Asian experience is not monolithic. My goal was to encourage everyone to reflect on their own experiences, build empathy through stories shared by the panelists, and ultimately take action to be a part of the change. I challenged the audience to make an ongoing commitment to redefine success and celebrate the diverse perspectives each individual brings to an organization. I also encouraged allies to recognize their own affinity bias and leverage their privilege to sponsor initiatives focused on advancing opportunities for the BIPOC community.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I am a strong believer in education, because the insights you gain from knowledge act as an essential enabler and can empower you to make the best decisions to achieve your goals. My aspiration is to be a strategic enterprise finance leader who facilitates value-maximizing decisions for the organization that I lead. With respect to timing, I wanted to attend business school now as I am starting a critical transition from an individual contributor to a manager of people which will amplify the impact that I can bring to an organization. Kellogg equips me with soft skills to navigate teamwork, hard skills to solve complex business problems, and a world-class network that exposes me to global perspectives.

Post-Kellogg, I hope to continue to build and apply the skills gained from my time at Kellogg to be a well-rounded finance leader.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I recommend the Ann Kim episode of Chef’s Table: Pizza on Netflix. Beyond the mouth-watering scenes of her famous pies, you learn about the importance of finding your true passion that allows you to authentically be who you are. It might not be the easiest journey, but learning how to navigate life in your own way is a necessary skill to have as a leader. I also highly recommend trying her Korean BBQ pizza at Pizzeria Lola if you ever have the chance to visit Minneapolis. It is life-changing!

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to Kellogg and HBS. Ultimately, I chose to attend Kellogg because of the unmatched benefits of the 1Y program that align with my career aspirations.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? My advice is to take the time to reflect on how your experiences in the past have shaped who you are today and who you want to be in the future. It’s important to clearly understand and articulate how Kellogg fits into your leadership journey. As a prospective student at a world-class business institution that offers optionality, you have to know which option best aligns with your aspirations. For me, the right choice was the 1Y program. Not only will this reflection exercise help you choose the right program, but it will also help you construct a compelling application that is cohesive, authentic, and unique to you.


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