“The immigrant became an army officer with a keen interest in small minority-owned businesses.”
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Fun fact about yourself: Yeah, I’m the guy who saw the stereotypical military commercials and joined the army right out of high school.
Basic studies and major: United States Military Academy – Systems Management
Last employer and job title: US Army Signal Officer
Which word best describes the Harvard Business School students and alumni you have met and why? Empathic. I think it comes from the program’s focus on the case method, which largely values the ability to put yourself in the shoes of others in order to understand the problem at hand. I am happy to be surrounded by people who are not only diverse and unique in their own way, but are also sincere and empathetic towards others.
What makes the case method so attractive to learn and become a better manager? It’s a cliché, but there is a saying in the military that the plan never survives first contact with the enemy. This is an important similarity between the private and military sectors. Decisions are made with imperfect information in a complex environment. The case method, in my opinion, is the closest to simulating this decision making process with no real impact. This type of training exercise is crucial to enable students to find their management style and improve their decision-making skills under pressure and in different circumstances.
Aside from your classmates and cases, What was the crucial part of the Harvard Business School MBA program that made you choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? There were two key contributors to the programming of HBS that led me to choose the school. First the case method: I really believe this is one of the most adaptable, high pressure, and realistic scenario-based learning programs out there. The level of preparation that this method offers is second to none. Second, HBS recently launched a new course aimed at helping small minority owned businesses. I grew up with Korean parents who owned a local contractor, and I have experienced firsthand the challenges associated with minority-owned small businesses. This course comes very close to me and I am curious and excited to examine my own family’s situation from an academic perspective and to use this acquired knowledge for others like us.
Which course, club or activity do you find most appealing at Harvard Business School? I look forward to the management consulting and impact investing clubs because I believe they will help me develop my toolsets in the business environment. Having a military background, I know I must take the initiative and time to delve deeply into these business principles.
When you think of Harvard Business School what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Determined. HBS is an incredibly competitive school with daredevils from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds. The world determination embodies that goal-oriented, purposeful, and unwavering determination that brought many of the students here and will later lead them to success. I look forward to learning from everyone.
Describe your greatest success in your career so far: Planning and executing the provisioning and redeployment operations for an organization with 120 employees.
How has COVID-19 changed your perspective on your career and life in general? I saw my parents and other small business owners struggle to survive the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. I realized that action must be taken to help small businesses with unprecedented disasters. The impact of a small business on a community is immense. I realized that I wanted to work on making a positive impact on these local businesses.
What made you decide to do an MBA at that point and what do you want after graduation? I was fortunate to experience three different functional areas within the army that taught me a lot about my interests and drive, and I wanted to use the skills I learned to have a broader impact in the private sector. I want to learn and grow as much as possible, and ultimately use and apply those skills to help small businesses.
What other MBA programs have you applied for? Stanford GSB, Tuck, MIT
What advice would you give potential applicants in order to be admitted to the Harvard Business School MBA program? Take the time to understand your own drives and aspirations and who you are as a person. Shorten this so others understand who you are and why you are well suited for a program. Think carefully about these questions and make sure you can express the answers in a cohesive and relatable manner. Your experience is only part of the equation. Your ability to convey this is also a critical skill.
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