Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Jeongyeon Kim, University of Virginia (Darden)

Jeongyeon Kim (Jessi)

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Food enthusiastic, both exploring a good restaurant and cooking, Love dancing, crazy about EDM festivals.”

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Fun Fact About Yourself: I like photography, but not as a photographer. I like to be a model in front of a camera.

I always like to try a new, signature cocktail at a new bar.

Undergraduate School and Major: Yonsei University, located in South Korea. My major is business.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: CJ ENM, one of the largest conglomerates in Korea. They have a home shopping TV commerce and E-commerce channel. I was a kitchenware merchandiser for the channels over the past 6 years. And just before coming to Darden, I moved to a different team called ‘MD strategy team’ and did a corporate strategy project as a senior analyst for 6 months. So, I worked for the company for 6.5 years.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? I can improve my active listening skills while I am participating in the discussion for the case. Listening to what classmates say about the scenario in the case and preparing my answer will help me in growing as an active listener! Being an active listener is an essential part of being a better manager.

Aside from cases and classmates, what was the key part of Virginia Darden’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The UVA environment – location, coffee chat between classes, learning team experience – makes me immerse in relationships more. As an international student who wants to get a job and work in the U.S., it is important to make closer relationships with students. UVA is not located in a big city. That makes us focus on socializing with each other well. Coffee chat helps too. Our Learning Team for preparing each case for each class makes us get closer to each other too. This whole environment is so attractive to me. That is why I am here.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Virginia Darden? I want to join outreach activities for society, such as volunteering to a business project for local people in town. As a businesswoman, I always want to do the right thing. And one of the right things I think is to contribute to the local community. There are volunteering centers which need our help, and there are small businesses that can improve if a good business strategy nudges them. I want to do those activities.

What has been your first impression of the Darden MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Darden story so far. When I prepared for Darden interview, I tried to reach out to Darden students to know more. One of the students helped me a lot, even though he had a cold and did not feel well. He suggested a Zoom call with me. Through a 1.5 hour zoom call, he shared his good Darden experience. It made me want to get into Darden a lot. I feel like there is a ‘Pay it forward’ culture in the Darden community.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I started my career as a merchandiser at my company, which has TV commerce and e-commerce. The first category that I managed was pets. My role was to select the suppliers and negotiate pricing of each product and show those products on TV or online with marketing. I met over 10,000 suppliers over the last 6 years. One of the suppliers made cat litter. Since he was a start-up CEO, he did not have enough space to pile up his stock. If he had made the scale of economy, his product would have been more attractive in terms of pricing and avoiding stock shortage. I really wanted to help him because the product itself was so good. I calculated a simulation of the profit of the product. And I used a network of logistics which is under our conglomerate – like a brother company – to use their warehouse space. Of course, I submitted the simulation to my boss to get permission of these operation strategy. At first, my team members said to me that I could have focused on other large partners, but I did not give up hope for this client. I found potential in the product. In the end, the revenue of the product doubled, and the CEO started to expand his product line. That moment was so precious to me.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? I want to go to a consulting firm as a steppingstone for the tech industry.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Virginia Darden’s MBA program? Try to contact students when you have questions about Darden. It was very helpful when I prepared for the interview. And be genuine to your story in your interview. Darden’s interview is quite different from other business schools. You need to tell your story for more than 3 minutes, or longer. It will prove to you 100% whether you are a Darden fit. And every time you prepare for your application, trust yourself. You are always a gem.


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