2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Meijia (Mika) Shang, UC Davis Graduate School of Management by: Jeff Schmitt on April 29, 2023 | 662 Views April 29, 2023 Copy Link Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp Share on Reddit Meijia (Mika) Shang University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management “Mika: running the financial world in a way the rest of the world can understand.” Hometown: Toronto, Canada Fun fact about yourself: My wedding in 2020 at the height of the pandemic cost less than $500. Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Commerce, Queen’s University (Canada) Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Analyst, Opes Wealth Management LLC Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Intel Corporation, Folsom, CA Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Financial Analyst, Intel Corporation Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Community/Leadership Director of Finance, Associated Students of Management at UC Davis Graduate School of Management President, Graduate School of Management Finance Association Project Lead, Integrated Management Project Capstone course UC Davis-Financial Times Biz Quiz Competition – UC Davis Team Lead Teaching Assistant, Financial Theory & Policy (core MBA course) Honors Women in Business & Leadership Scholarship, UC Davis Graduate School of Management Zaiss Ventures Fellowship Recipient, UC Davis Graduate School of Management UC Davis-Financial Times Biz Quiz Competition – UC Davis Team Placed 2nd Overall Stephen G. and Shelley A. Newberry Distinguished Fellowship Finalist, the largest privately funded fellowship award at the Graduate School of Management. Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During the second quarter of my second year at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM), I independently created content for and taught a four-week personal finance series designed to increase financial literacy specifically amongst women, minorities and disadvantaged individuals in the UC Davis community. It was an incredible experience because I drastically improved my presentation skills. Even more, attendees frequently updated me on how much of an impact the budgeting, debt management and investing strategies I taught had had on their personal finances. I was inspired to learn what personal finance topics my community struggled with, validating my efforts in the field, and helping us all work towards becoming financially literate and ultimately financially independent. What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At Opes Wealth Management, I independently researched a new type of tax efficient fund called opportunity zone funds (OZ funds), which were created due to the Tax Cut & Jobs Act of 2017. While OZ funds became popular at other investment management firms, I noticed that my firm was not yet introducing this tax efficient vehicle to our clients. I decided to spearhead the due diligence, financial analysis, and client presentation of OZ funds. Over the next couple of weeks, I spoke with numerous OZ fund managers, generated succinct due diligence reports, and obtained our chief investment officer’s approval to move forward with client presentations. As a result, I increased our assets under management by over $30 million in just under a year and saved our clients over $15 million in capital gains taxes. What makes this my proudest accomplishment is not the increase in assets under management, but the initiative and resourcefulness I possessed that led to our firm’s fiscal success. Why did you choose this business school? I selected UC Davis Graduate School of Management because of its emphasis on collaborative leadership. UC Davis has taught me that relying on my strengths is insufficient to successfully accomplish complex team projects. I believe that achieving excellence and surpassing project expectations requires the recognition of and reliance on each team member’s skills and capabilities. UC Davis focuses on the importance of teamwork, and also emphasizes how teamwork is appreciated and applied in the professional workplace. UC Davis will help me become a leader who recognizes others’ strengths, builds trust among team members, and consistently demonstrates compassion and diligence in all situations. Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Ayako Yasuda is my inspiration and role model because she is extremely accomplished in her field of ESG and impact investing; deeply considerate of others in all situations; and infinitely thoughtful when discussing finance or life topics. She inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone not only in taking on leadership positions at school but also in leading others within and outside of UC Davis towards better financial literacy. What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course was Technology Finance & Valuation, which I took during the second quarter in my second year. This course taught us to apply finance tools and framework to the world of venture capital and financing of projects in high-growth industries. It challenged and stretched my finance skills like no other course at UC Davis. I gained insight into the venture capital world in real time as we used Pitchbook to research our capstone project. It also helped correct some of my misconceptions about the venture capital world and made me more confident to explore research and development in high-growth firms. Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The Personal Finance workshop series that I ran was immensely valuable to the UC Davis community. However, it took a long time for me to build the confidence I needed to run, host, and promote such an ambitious series. I was overwhelmed by interest and support, and wish I had the courage to host this event in my first year of MBA. Finance is such a private topic; I was concerned that the UC Davis community would shy away from this difficult topic. I could not be happier to have been proven wrong. What is the biggest myth about your school? UC Davis is a relatively small-sized business school that often can be overshadowed by its more famous sister, UCLA Anderson. This sometimes leads to the misconception that UC Davis MBA students are lesser than UCLA peers. This was demonstrably proven false at the recent UC Davis-Financial Times Biz Quiz where our team surpassed the very talented UCLA team. I’m proud we continue to test and prove our mettle against such esteemed competitors. What did you love most about your business school’s town? Davis has great NorCal weather, with blue skies on most days. It’s very bike friendly, easy to navigate, and I feel safe on campus and in the residential neighborhoods. What I love about Davis is that, although the student population is the majority, there are also kids and seniors and that’s important for a community feel. What surprised you the most about business school? Coming from a finance background, I considered myself well-prepared for my MBA journey. What I could not have anticipated was, despite being a STEM-MBA, that my soft skills would be so effectively sharpened. The frequent collaboration and cooperation with diverse classmates allowed me to refine my interpersonal skills, even when working on a finance case study or a machine learning model. What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? The application process at UC Davis is open and accepting in a way that I have not often seen. I felt that I was able to be much more honest and true to my experiences. Being able to discuss and draw upon experiences that other schools would have shied away from, allowed me to show who I really was to an empathetic admissions process. Honest answers ring more loudly than polished half-truths. Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Lucas Haskins is an accomplished and well-respected member of our MBA cohort – and for good reason. Humble and unafraid of feedback, he takes criticism in stride and very seriously. He learns quickly and has kept up with or surpassed his often much older, more established peers. Lucas has been working in multiple positions throughout the MBA program to gain the work-experience that most of us arrived with already. His work ethic has not gone unnoticed, and he is well acknowledged as a rising star within the cohort, and soon beyond. What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? 1. Put together a 10K. As a fervent believer of public markets, and a voracious reader of such reports, I want to take part in this great American experiment that is the largest economy on earth. Public companies, like Intel, hold themselves to high standards of financial integrity, responsibility, and public accountability. 2. Automate a part of my job. While the new technology fads of the day (currently it’s ChatGPT) are always fascinating and fun to play with, I am always looking for things that could actually help me day to day. I’d love to better integrate scripts, classification models, and dynamic programs into my workflow, to the point where the tedious parts of my job cease to exist. What made Mika Shang such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023? “I’m delighted to nominate Mika Shang for the 100 Best & Brightest MBAs. Mika is a compassionate leader who shares credit, does not seek the limelight, works the hardest, and delivers results. In everything she does, Mika delights in creating benefit for others – a positive externality. In our age of social media and savvy self-branding, her ability to effortlessly help others actually—ironically—stands out. Excitingly, she is also a formidable competitor when it’s needed for the team. This combination of kindness and strength has lifted the whole community and made Mika an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023. I advised Mika as a student team leader representing our school in the inaugural UC Davis-Financial Times Biz Quiz competition. In this event, students had to learn a vast amount of news reported in the Financial Times and compete on their knowledge in a Jeopardy!-like quiz competition. In trainings and rehearsals, Mika showed up totally prepped, and yet was willing to yield the coveted spots to compete on the game day to other students, which motivated all team members to work hard. I was impressed by her non-attachment, and thought she was perhaps averse to the competitiveness of the event. On the contrary, Mika proved herself to be a tenacious and gritty competitor, coolly beating an archrival team by 1 point on the last question. It was a thrilling sight! In another example, as the newly elected president of our school’s Finance and Investment Club, Mika launched a successful speaker series with flawless execution. We were just getting back into in-person events after a long period of Covid lockdowns and remote instructions, during which student club activities were curtailed and some institutional memory was lost. Mika injected fresh new energy into the club and revitalized it with professionalism and intellectual curiosity. In addition to the series hosting outside speakers from the financial industry, Mika also launched and delivered a series on personal finance open to all on campus, capitalizing on her pre-MBA experience in the wealth management industry. Mika served as a teaching assistant for my finance class and did a superb job while we were working together during the term. What floored me and what set Mika apart from many other excellent TAs I’ve had is this: After the term ended, Mika gave me an evidenced-based and candid feedback on where our curriculum falls short and how we could improve as a school in educating and training our students. Not only was she diagnosing the problem but also offering solutions and was willing to do her part, even if it meant more work for her. This level of internalization of ownership and responsibility is a rare trait and what makes her an invaluable addition to any group, any team, and any organization. Last but not the least, Mika is a global citizen with an uncommonly mature mindset. She has lived on multiple continents, and is deeply aware of privileges and inequality, how different societies and civilizations co-exist, mingle, compete, and collide in today’s complex world. This perspective is invaluable for our society to prosper, and I know will be needed for leaders of any organizations that aim to sustain their relevance and value. Intel clearly did, and Mika is headed there after graduation. I am excited to watch Mika’s path and the benefit she will create in the years to come!” Ayako Yasuda Professor of Finance, UC Davis Graduate School of Management Ph.D., Economics, Stanford University DON’T MISS: 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS: CLASS OF 2023 Comments or questions about this article? Email us.