[Korean Economic Daily] EMBA '21 SeokJin Han
- Q) Could you tell us about yourself?
- A) My name is SeokJin Han, and I’m enrolled in the Indiana Kelley–SKK GSB Executive MBA program. I’ve been working at Microsoft as a technical specialist in cloud computing and artificial intelligence for eight years, and before that I worked as a data warehouse expert at LG CNS.
- Q) What were your reasons for deciding to do the MBA, and why did you choose SKK GSB?
- A) I believed career development should be driven by yourself, not others, and I was interested in aligning the personal vision and the company vision. I had two options—one was to study more about AI technologies, and the other was to learn business perspectives and capabilities. After a careful reflection, I decided to choose an MBA to gain both new perspectives and a network of distinguished people.
- Selecting the Indiana Kelley–SKK GSB Executive MBA was a rather easy decision because I thought the course had clear advantages. It is jointly run by the globally renowned Indiana University Kelley School of Business and SKK GSB, allowing me to learn from top-quality faculty. There were other advantages, too: the program’s high ranking and reputation, being able to obtain an Indiana Kelley MBA and an SKK GSB MBA simultaneously, 100% English classes, and the Indiana Kelley professors’ visiting Korea to lecture and communicate with the students. Unfortunately, some classes taught by the Indiana Kelley faculty ended up being online due to the pandemic, but thankfully Indiana Kelley has outstanding online education know-how—they’ve been ranked first or second every year for online MBA courses—so that allowed me to maximize my MBA experience despite the physical constraints.
- Q) Please share how what you have learned during your MBA course has contributed towards your actual work, and how you can utilize this in the future.
- A) The SKK GSB Executive MBA curriculum is composed of topics that all business leaders should know about. I could learn about these topics more deeply and efficiently through discussions with professors and colleagues who are experts in each field. The students from different backgrounds were organically connected to help each other under the professor's guidance, so we could all maximize the learning experience together. One example of the learnings from the MBA that I applied at work was DuPont Analysis. The concept originally came from the Corporate Finance class, and it is useful for looking at different aspects of financial performance. I realized we could apply this perspective to team management, and used it to suggest my team’s refreshed Objectives and Key Results (OKR). This helped the team to focus on differentiation while strengthening partnership with HQ to maximize impact. The exercise was recognized by the Asia and Global team as best practice, and the Global Team is now preparing to replicate this across regions.
I think the key concepts learned from Business Strategy, Marketing Strategy, and Developing Innovation courses were extremely useful. We got to choose focal companies and applied various frameworks ourselves. The Applied Business Project was the highlight: I teamed up with colleagues to do market research, define customer jobs to be done, develop a business model, and set up and validate hypotheses. I also practiced leadership, problem approach, risk management, analytical frameworks, and communication skills, which I believe are great assets for business management.
I work closely with various teams from the US headquarters at my work, and my development and growth through this program has helped me to be confident in presenting important perspectives, managing the white spaces among the teams, and systematically utilizing various techniques for problem solving.
- Q) What was the biggest challenge you encountered on the MBA course?
- A) The Indiana Kelley–SKK GSB Executive MBA program is broad and practical, and it also has depth, so students have to do a lot of reading and study. However, working with classmates and helping each other have been of great help. There were a lot of passionate students taking this course. When there was a change of schedule due to the pandemic, the students invited special lecturers, and we could continue learning despite the disruption. Since everyone actively stepped up to share and help in their area of expertise, we could engage in discussions more thoroughly in classes, and eventually reach the milestones together.
- Q)Please give a word of advice to prospective applicants who are considering an MBA.
- A) An MBA will require you to invest a lot of time and money, so I implore you to make your decision after careful consideration. Whichever MBA program you complete, the certificate you gain when you graduate is not in itself special. What is special is less tangible. Through the program, you can access a network of experts from various fields, gain broad and fresh perspectives, and master analysis frameworks and tools. Most of all, the effectiveness varies greatly depending on how much passion you put into the course. Take a careful look at the curriculum, and listen to those who have completed that program. If you decide that those are the skills and the network you need, please make the bold decision to start your MBA journey.
Original Article in Korean: