Interview: KAIST Techno-MBA
Kim Min-hoo, far right on the first row, 29, started his MBA program at KAIST Business School in February 2010 and aims to become a finance specialist. Initiated in 1995, the Techno-MBA program was the first full-time MBA in Korea. In January, it was ranked 99th in the world by the Financial Times rankings, the highest among Korean schools and seventh in Asia.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Korea, the U.S. and Canada. As an undergraduate, I majored in commerce and finance at the University of Toronto on its St. George Campus.
What did you do before coming to KAIST?
I worked in Canada for two different companies. I traded steel products at Daewoo International Corporation Canada for a year, and then worked at HSBC Bank Canada for another one year.
What is your career goal?
I would like to expand my horizon of expertise into either investment banking (specifically an M&A related role) or consulting industry (also dealing with M&A).
Then why did you come to KAIST, when there are more established schools in the U.S. and Canada in finance?
When I graduated from the university, the economy was in recession in North America. It was the middle of the financial crisis. It seemed to me that the region’s growth potential was limited, while the Asian market looked attractive. And my background was Korean, so it was natural for me to look at opportunities in Asia, in places like Hong Kong or Singapore.
Did you applied to schools in those places as well?
Yes, actually I applied to CEIBS (in Shanghai) as well as KAIST. I have Korean background and my family live in Korea, so I chose KAIST.
Doesn’t KAIST also have an MBA program specialized in Finance? Why did you choose the general MBA course (Techno-MBA)?
I had enough finance background from my undergraduate study and from my work experience. Instead I wanted to learn more about other areas such as management information systems and supply management.
Did you get a scholarship?
The scholarship is awarded each semester based on academic performance, and I have never missed it.
How long is the course?
It’s a two-year course so it is supposed to end next February, but I am graduating this summer. About five to 10 students apply for early graduation every year.
Did you get job offers, then?
So far I had a long-term internship offer from an investment bank in Singapore and a full-time offer from a consulting firm in Seoul.
How did you get them?
Through the school’s career office. They had a connection with the bank in Singapore. And the consulting firm had a recruiting session at the school.
What is the unique point of KAIST MBA?
There is the ‘lab system’ where you share a study room with six to 10 students each semester. It is open 24-7. This is the place where students share their experiences, thoughts and insights from day one till graduation. Only KAIST has this lab system for MBAs as far as I know. You get to know many people because you are assigned to a different lab each semester. Personally, I believe that learning through networking with people from a variety of industries plays a more important role than learning from books.
Who was your best lecturer?
It is the Financial Statement Analysis (corporate valuation) taught by Professor Lee Jaywon. He brought real industry experience and insight into the class, and this kind of lecture was something that I had not experienced in my undergraduate program in Toronto because the nature of the lecture was totally focused on practicality rather than theory.
Interview by Cho Jin-seo