Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Kevin J. Thiphavong, UC Riverside

Kevin J. Thiphavong

“I am a lifelong learner who challenges the status quo.”

Hometown: San Diego, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love traveling and learning about different cultures. I lived in Italy for two years and have done multiple solo trips throughout Europe.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, Berkeley, interdisciplinary studies focusing on public policy, sociology, psychology, and education

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: DCG Communications, senior research associate

What word best describes the UC Riverside MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far?
Diverse. We have so many students from a variety of backgrounds. I am excited to learn more about my peers and looking forward to the discussions and ideas that come from our different backgrounds. I believe learning from these peers will make me a better business leader.

Aside from classmates, what was the key part of UC Riverside’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?
What stood out to me about UC Riverside was that it was ranked number one for social mobility for public universities. I am a first-generation college student, and my parents are immigrants. The MBA program’s faculty also caught my attention. I researched the faculty and found many of the professors attended and graduated from top programs around the country. This is important to me because I want to learn and be mentored by the best professors available. I come from a huge university with large class sizes, and UCR’s MBA program is smaller than many programs, and I knew a more intimate environment would allow me to get to know my peers and have more access to professors.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at UC Riverside?
Management 205 Information Systems with Professor Rich Yueh has been my favorite course thus far. Dr. Yueh has a unique perspective and teaching style. Everything we have been learning reflects what is used in industries today, which will equip me with the tools needed to hit the ground running during my summer internship and post-graduation career.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:
My biggest accomplishment in my career so far has been being trusted and having ownership of multiple projects supporting multiple clients among cross-functional teams in my first non-military position. Having served in the U.S. Navy for my entire adult life, I wasn’t sure how I would handle a corporate job and how transferable my skills would be. Come to find out, a lot of the skills I gained from the military are very transferable in the corporate sector. In my opinion, it was a huge compliment and accomplishment to be trusted to spearhead projects on my own.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far:
My biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far is being accepted into the Graduate Student Ambassador program at the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management (AGSM). I was selected among many applicants, and being an ambassador allows me to sharpen my leadership skills, challenge me throughout the school year, and mold me into a better business leader.

What is your class’s favorite hangout away from school? Why do you gather there?
We hang out in the main campus area so we can have lunch together and talk about what we are all working on in class and our goals. Every time we meet for lunch, we acquire a new classmate that joins us. This has allowed me to get to know new people and network. Building camaraderie within my cohort will strengthen bonds that will last a lifetime.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation?
I decided to leave the Navy because I wanted a new challenge and more autonomy to make business decisions. After completing my undergraduate degree and working for a year, I found I still did not have the level of autonomy I wanted to make business decisions. I know I have leadership skills, but I also know that I lacked the technical skills that I need to be successful in a leadership role. Pursuing and completing an MBA will fill that void. Earning an MBA degree along with the leadership skills I acquired during my military service will signal to employers that I am ready to be a leader.

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