Q&A with ASB Alumni Yizhen Fung: Securing a Job as Chief of Staff at the Height of Covid-19

Jeff Schmitt | Poets & Quants | Alumni

Why did you choose to earn your MBA at this business school?

Pre-MBA, I was a law graduate who had worked in the government as a policymaker and advisor to a prominent regulatory leader. I wanted to make a career pivot to the private sector yet I was undecided on where I’d like to land.

The ASB MBA with its one-of-a-kind Action Learning component not only gave me practical experience in 5 industries across 4 Asia-Pacific countries over 7 months cumulatively; it also allowed me to experiment and validate the industry and job function that I would like to be in post-graduation.

This practical experience, coupled with MIT Sloan’s world-class innovation-forward curriculum, was what gave me the confidence and skills to secure a job at the height of the COVID-19 crisis and a national emergency.

 

What was your favorite class and what lesson do you use from it in your role?

It was definitely the Platforms Strategy class. Platform businesses are incredibly complex, and your strategy to grow and compete needs to be delicately calibrated. Working at a fast-growing super app whose digital platform encompasses travel, e-commerce, and fintech products, the most valuable takeaway for me was knowing which growth drivers to focus on amidst a constantly changing playing field.

Read our feature with ASB’s Prof Melati Nungsari on platform strategy: Finding the Perfect Match? Focus on Fit

 

Pretend you are an ambassador giving a tour at your business school. Name one place you would show a candidate and why was it so important to you?

The charming communal spaces of the student residence! What tied my ASB experience together was the lifelong camaraderie forged with my class. The architecture of the campus makes that possible with its many open, communal spaces, from its lush front lawn to its serene rooftop gardens.

 

What was your best memory during your MBA program?

So hard to pick just one! The one memory I keep going back to was an Action Learning project in Bangkok. It was a challenging project – we had to design a social commerce strategy for one of the largest banks in Thailand – but I had a team that was absolutely ace. We analyzed research, conducted meetings and built decks in agile sprints during the day. By night, we explored the best of Bangkok nightlife: street-food, bars, and spas galore. One weekend we hired a van to take us to the lovely countryside and spent a gloriously long Saturday afternoon at a charming vineyard and alpaca farm.

 

What is one thing about the MBA program that you wish you had known when you applied?

The 20 months will fly by like a breeze. It will be near impossible for all 47 of my classmates to ever be in the same place again, so make every moment count!

 

What has been your biggest professional achievement?

Playing an entrepreneurial role within a super app that is reinventing itself from its airline roots, amidst the worst crisis in all of aviation history. This has entailed supporting the CEO’s vision in a multi-disciplinary capacity, leading a successful public relations campaign, and building strategic partnerships.

 

What advice would you give to a prospective student to help them earn a spot in your business school?

Have a clear story of what brings you to business school and how you hope to benefit and grow from the ASB experience. Don’t be shy to share what interests you, what makes you click, and what makes you different. ASB prides itself on bringing together interesting and unconventional people – you might just be what they’re looking for!

 

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