2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Zachary Cho, EDHEC Business School

Zachary Cho

EDHEC Business School

“I lead with energy and embrace challenges with an entrepreneurial spirit and discipline.”

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a devoted foodie willing to try anything at least once, even scorpions and insect caviar. My creativity in the kitchen is more than a passion; I’ve worked in professional kitchens just for the love of cooking and to learn the art of preparing an elegant meal. My travels, which will soon extend to 17 countries, have been a journey of discovery and understanding a country’s culture and history through gastronomy. My ideal vacation is one filled with visual and culinary delights!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Victoria, Bachelor of Social Sciences, Major in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Westcoast Poke, Founder and Managing Director. I founded the award-winning company when I was 25 years old. Before this, at 23, I founded FAM&Co, a special events company that offered catering and entertainment services.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? NA

Where will you be working after graduation? When I think about my future, I see myself in a role that offers more than a list of management responsibilities. I want to apply my strategic acuity to help others define actionable steps with tangible outcomes. After graduation, I would like to be a trusted and sought-after strategy consultant. I want to solve complex business problems and have an impact on the success and direction of a business/organization. I also love that consulting offers exposure to work and learning from a wide range of industries. Furthermore, my upcoming academic exchange to CEIBS Business School will equip me with a global perspective and deep insights into diverse business practices, which I am confident will be invaluable to me in my future work with multinational organizations. At some point, I would also like to work with entrepreneurs to refine their strategies, optimize operations, and propel startups from ideation to execution; every goal is a milestone to reach, and every success is a collective triumph.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: My time at business school was not just about learning business theory, but about leading and making a difference. I was honored to be elected one of four Class Representatives. I take this role seriously and enjoy presenting my classmates’ opinions to university administrators and program directors.

I led three separate MBA teams in three different MBA case competitions. My strategic thinking and ideas around sustainability helped one of those teams win the Strategic Marketing Case Competition with ACS Clothing, and another team clinched the top place in the Sustainable Impact Challenge Case Competition with SAP. The third team I led secured a finalist position in the Strategy Case Competition with Aroma Zone. These achievements were not just personal victories but a testament to a collaborative spirit and innovative mindset.

Further affirming my academic journey, I was nominated for the prestigious CEIBS Business School academic exchange, an opportunity that underscores my dedication to global business education and cross-cultural learning.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The height of my MBA journey was the Strategic Marketing Case Competition for ACS Clothing. My challenge was to craft a market entry solution that resonated with the judges and board members. This solution had to provide a viable path forward for the company, and the one I presented is being seriously considered for adoption by the company today. This perfect blend of theory and practice signified the essence of my MBA: transforming academic learning into real-world outcomes. Additionally, the mentorship I provided to my peers with limited to no real-world business experience remains a source of immense pride. Guiding them through the interview process, resume building, and even stress management really tapped into my inclusive and collaborative leadership style.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am very proud of the diverse approach to innovation and leadership that I took when I founded Westcoast Poke. The restaurant was the first to market innovative products like Gindara sablefish and Ahimi (a tuna alternative) and establish sustainable operational practices (e.g., working with sustainable food and packaging suppliers). However, what I’m most proud of about Westcoast Poke is the support I was able to offer to my employees, ranging from providing someone their first ‘real’ job to supporting employees during difficult times, e.g., subsidizing an employee’s tuition due to financial hardship. My actions were about supporting livelihoods rather than just financial returns, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These experiences provided priceless lessons through wins and setbacks.

Why did you choose this business school? EDHEC was, in fact, my first choice. I chose this business school because of its outstanding commitment to sustainability, demonstrated by its 4th place ranking for ESG by The Financial Times, and the diversity it celebrates—not just in gender balance and age range but also in the rich tapestry of cultures represented by 31 nationalities.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor was Inge de Clippeleer. She taught the Lead 360 course, which was not just educational but transformative. Professor de Clippeleer’s teachings went beyond traditional leadership concepts, delving into building and maintaining relationships, fostering diversity and inclusion, managing oneself in various situations, and constructing efficient teams. Her approach to leadership development resonated with me deeply, as it was a blend of academic rigor and practical, actionable strategies that I could apply in both my personal and professional life.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course in the MBA program was the strategy course led by Professor Karin Kollenz-Quétard. Her expertise in strategy provided not just theoretical frameworks, but also practical insights that were immediately applicable. I enjoyed applying my strategic knowledge to the concepts taught, deepening my understanding of navigating complex business environments. The course emphasized dynamic thinking and offered tools for crafting effective strategies, which I found both challenging and intellectually thought-provoking. Professor Kollenz-Quétard’s approach to teaching strategy has left a lasting impression on how I view business decisions and their impact.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event was the annual Christmas party; it was a fun and vibrant showcase of my classmates’ diverse talents and cultural traditions. From ballet dancing to soulful singing, peers revealed facets of their personalities that surpassed our day-to-day interactions. It also provided a unique opportunity to engage with prominent community leaders like Candace Johnson, an EDHEC board director, whose support for the school and status as a leading female figure in business left a lasting impression. Her leadership and commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship have elevated EDHEC’s international profile and served as a powerful example of female leadership in technology and business. This event reflected the school’s celebration of diversity, talent, and influential leadership.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If there’s one thing I’d revisit, it would be enhancing my French proficiency. While the EDHEC MBA program’s medium of instruction is English, a deeper grasp of French would have allowed me to immerse myself more fully in France’s rich cultural fabric and expand my professional opportunities within the country’s corporate networks.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about my school was that it would be more focused on academic rigor than personal growth. Contrary to this, the EDHEC Global MBA emphasizes personal development as much as academic excellence. The environment fostered practical learning through cross-cultural collaboration and communication, challenging me to bridge gaps in diverse work groups. This approach broadened my understanding of global business practices and prepared me for a career that values personal and professional development.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? In the short term, I aim to secure a role that presents intellectual and strategic challenges and sets a solid foundation for upward mobility in my career trajectory. In the long term, I aspire to become a mentor whose guidance is actively sought by upcoming entrepreneurs. This will enable me to share learnings from my own experiences to help them navigate the business landscape and avoid a few painful obstacles I encountered as an entrepreneur.

What made Zachary such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“At EDHEC, entrepreneurship is in our DNA, and Zachary Cho brings his unbounded entrepreneurial energy, drive, and curiosity to our MBA cohort. He is rigorous in his studies and embraces every opportunity to learn and grow. With a healthy competitive spirit and high academic standards, Zach has shown empathy, teamwork, and problem-solving skills in his leadership role as an elected Class Representative. An aspiring global citizen with an open mind, Zach was selected to participate in our prestigious exchange program with CEIBS in Shanghai in the summer. Finally, what makes Zach stand out in his class is his entrepreneurial spirit, sense of responsibility, and ambition to live life to its fullest during and long after the MBA. I believe that Zach has excellent potential to succeed in his future career as a consultant with the lucky company that hires him!”

Sandra Richez
Director of the EDHEC Global MBA


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