Born and raised in Tucson, AZ in the United States, I am Chinese-American, a middle child, and extremely competitive. At UCLA I switched to Business Economics with a minor in Accounting when I was told it was the most competitive major/minor combination. The logic was similar in my pursuit of investment banking – why be a public accountant when you could be a “ballin’ banker.” In my penultimate year at UCLA I was a summer analyst at Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Citi) in its investment banking division working primarily with financial sponsors. This led to a full-time offer post-graduation. I was with Citi for about two years when I forewent an opportunity to join the investment banking technology team to try something completely different. In the time away from Citi, I split my time between my own M&A advisory sole-proprietorship, in which I sold my father’s business in a multi-million dollar transaction, mentored high schoolers, and applied to IE business school.
Q: Can you tell us why you chose IE´s Dual Degree- International MBA & Master in Advanced Finance over any MBA in Finance in the United States, where you are from and where you worked before joining IE. What is it about the DD that appealed to you?
My motivation for IE’s Dual Degree (International MBA & Master in Advanced Finance) was three-fold. First, I wanted an international experience. Given my established American network and the increase in cross-border transactions, I felt I would benefit the most from a European network. In the States, most business schools have less than 25% of their student body as international students. Hence, I only considered European business schools. Second, IE’s Dual Degree would allow me to attain two degrees for the price of one in both monetary and time costs. My thought was that the specialization in finance would further differentiate me from the plethora of other MBA graduates. Lastly, I wanted to go to a top 10 business school.
Q: Now that you have finished the IMBA and starting the 1st semester of MIAF, could you tell us about your learning experience?
In December 2011, I finished the International MBA and started the Master in Advance Finance in the beginning of 2012. Although the MBA experience was excellent in expanding my operational and general management skills, my experience in the Masters in Advance Finance has been incredible! The level of education and the network I am experiencing continually amazes me. With highly established professionals and active practitioners as my professors, the knowledge gained is not simply academic or “theoretical” but very practical. Many times I feel as though I am being taught best practices that would have impressed my old managing director and saved me a lot of “on-the-job trial and error.” The specialization of the academic content, the high quality of my peers, and the network I am gaining has made the value of this experience much higher than my expectations.
Q: Which values do you think that IE’s DD is going to add to your personal growth and professional development?
IE’s Dual Degree has added 1) an international professional network with top managers in the industries I am interested in and 2) the academic skills I know I need in finance given my previous experience. During my business school application process, I sought an academic experience that would open the doors to goals that, at best, could only be quantified as dreams. Now, after attending IE’s Dual Degree, these dreams are becoming reality. In closing, a quote from Benjamin Franklin comes to mind, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
Thank you very much Sharon for the interview and we wish you all the best luck!