2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Julie Tzeng, New York University (Stern)

Julie Tzeng

New York University, Stern School of Business

“A passion-driven and adventure-seeking individual, focusing on enabling sustainable innovation and technologies.”

Hometown: Concord, MA

Fun fact about yourself:

I come from three generations of artists and use art as a form of self-expression, including darkroom photography, designing footwear and burning wood art using the sun and a magnifying glass. I even joined a circus at some point to dance and learn fire dancing!

Undergraduate School and Degree: UCLA, BA in Fine Arts and Psychology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?  I founded a startup called Arshae, exploring how 3D printing could disrupt the manufacturing process of shoes and enable the circular economy.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Plum Alley Investments, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Recipient, Alex S. Auerbach Stern Service Award
  • EVP of Career Development, Stern PE & VC Club
  • EVP of Community, Entrepreneurship and Startup Association
  • Student Mentor for EmpowHER supporting women in sustainable finance hosted by the Center for Sustainable Business
  • Career Mentor for the Office of Career Development
  • LAUNCH Orientation Leader
  • AVP of Conference, Social Impact and Sustainability Association from 2021-22

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I made it my mission at business school to expand the startup and venture capital ecosystem at NYU Stern; equip aspiring private equity investors with the skills necessary to become a competitive candidate; create a supportive community; and help support Stern’s reputation in the New York startup ecosystem. VC was my target career but it initially felt challenging because I was new to the city and was pivoting from entrepreneurship and previously retail. To shift the narrative, I spearheaded study groups and a year’s worth of career workshops. To date, I have taught and mentored over 60 students and hosted 23 different workshops and conferences for aspiring VCs and founders.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Early in my career as a fashion footwear designer, my worldview drastically shifted. I experienced first-hand how the focus on short-term cost optimization and demand for fast fashion led to detrimental environmental and social impacts in its global supply chain. I spearheaded product development sustainability initiatives at Call it Spring, a brand owned by Aldo Group. I persuaded global key stakeholders to buy in, managed a task force, educated cross-functional teams and built an implementation timeline. Our first sustainable collection of shoes successfully repurposed 300K water bottles, cleaned 1M+ liters of water, and averted 58 tons of greenhouse gasses. It was the most fulfilling and impactful project of my career.

Why did you choose this business school? I ultimately chose to go to NYU Stern because of conversations with current students who told me about classmates coming from diverse backgrounds and hobbies. I felt like I fit in with the culture they portrayed, and I am lucky to feel a sense of belonging in my class where I can authentically be my quirky self.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Michael North, who teaches one of our core classes, “Leadership in Organizations.” He created an open and safe space for students to explore their leadership and managerial styles, regardless of communication style or personality type. In Spring last year, I underwent some tough negotiations with a previous startup and he not only took time to walk me through it, but also followed up with me multiple times months after the negotiations concluded.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course was “Tech and the City,” a Stern Solutions experiential course where students consulted for startups under Union Square Ventures’ portfolio. Working in small groups and identifying opportunities for ever-changing business models came with challenges, and I learned a lot about what it takes to support a founder.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Pitch Roast! It’s an improv pitch competition featuring terrible business ideas. My friend was originally looking for an event where people could offer unfiltered feedback on his startup idea, but I misunderstood him and, in my excitement, we turned it into a hilarious bi-annual evening. Some of the ideas that won? Stationary Drones, Messenger Pigeons, and SaaS as a service.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Honestly? There is nothing I would have changed and nothing more I could have done. I would have gone through the exact same motions- growing through every challenge and celebrating every win with my friends.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that NYU Stern is highly competitive. A huge emphasis on EQ from the school shaped our collaborative culture. Students go out of their way to help each other, even if it could possibly affect their own goals. They are extremely open and supportive and I’m proud to be a Sternie.

What did you love most about your business school’s town?  Being in the heart of NYC gives me a constant source of inspiration and motivation. The entire city is filled with high achievers, and I thrive in this type of hustle. Plus, with NY being a top city for VC, I was able to pursue in-semester internships.

What surprised you the most about business school? How much I’ve grown. In the moment, it can be easy to feel imposter syndrome and to never feel like I was doing enough. However, I look back a year ago, even a month ago, and I can see how much I’ve learned about myself and about business. I can see how I’ve shifted the way I think and incorporated frameworks I learned at school.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I focused on my EQ strengths: how I felt fulfilled when I empowered the people around me. When I participated in startup accelerators as a founder, I set up practices and events, which helped improve founders’ pitches and strengthened our ties as a cohort.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I really am grateful to have become close to Joline Huntemann, who is the Stern Student Government Co-President and the President of the European Business Society. She came into the program with an extremely open and enthusiastic mindset, which is absolutely contagious. She is always excited to try something new, whether it is school initiatives or adventures in town that helped bring our class together. In addition, she’s always been willing to drop what she was doing to help a fellow classmate and I admire how she handles every initiative without feeling overly pressured by her responsibilities.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? As a VC, I will support impact-focused founders who will accelerate the commercialization of sustainable and circular technology and advance climate transition and risk mitigation. In addition, I want to always stay passionate and maintain a sense of wonder and curiosity in my day to day.

What made Julie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Julie Tzeng came to Stern committed to making the next pivot in her career in venture capital; ask anyone on campus interested in venture capital and chances are that they know Julie. Although venture capital is a difficult industry to access, Julie has gone above and beyond in creating bootcamps to help other MBA students understand VC, including evaluating companies and tips for finding internships in New York. In the summer of 2022, she interned for Plum Alley Investments, an early-stage VC fund investing in women in STEM, where, among other duties, she worked on the fund’s Intentional Investing Report. She has also participated in several events that the Careers Team has put together such as Orientation and our annual first-year MBA kickoff. Julie embodies all the best traits and values of Sternies and will leverage the skills and knowledge she gained in business school to lead in this next exciting phase of her career.”

Yaniv Kleinman
Associate Director, Career Coaching


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