MBA life: SKK GSB’s exchange student program
Jo Soo-man, 36, had worked eight years in overseas sales teams of big Korean firms before heading to Sungkyunkwan University's Graduate School of Business last year. The interview was conducted on Thursday and he left for the United States on Saturday to join Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in an exchange student program.
What can you say about yourself?
I majored in management in my undergraduate study at Sogang University. And then I worked for Samsung Electronics and LS Industrial Systems in their global sales teams. The work involved a lot of traveling. I’ve been to more than 40 countries around the world.
Why did you decide to do an MBA?
Being an expert in overseas sales has advantages but I wanted to learn more about general management and change my career to marketing and strategy. I thought the MBA would help me see the big picture.
Since you had already studied business management in your undergraduate program, I guess the MBA program wasn’t too challenging to you. Or, was it?
I tried to attend various courses and some of them did overlap with things I learned from my undergraduate days. But the difference here was that class discussions were an important part of the courses, while in the undergraduate management programs it was more of one-way lectures. And in the MBA you can learn the most recent management theories and business practices in English.
Who is your favorite professor?
It’s not easy to pick only one but if I have to I’d say James Oldroyd, who taught Negotiation and Entrepreneurship. He made us to do a lot of simulation in the negotiation class. For example, one group assumed the role of a firm’s management while the other group played the role of union leaders. Then the two groups engaged in negotiations while having information not open to the other side.
Can you say anything about the exchange program at SKK?
We have around 60-70 people in our class and about 30 of them are leaving the country for the exchange program. As for the Tuck program, it’s a one-on-one exchange so there is no extra tuition fee to pay. For this reason, it was very popular among students who do not have corporate sponsors.
Will you be joining the second-year class at Tuck?
Do you think that it would be difficult to blend into classes there?
About 20 people are coming to Tuck this fall from Europe and Asia for the exchange program, so I’m not alone in this. And we have already formed a strong bond through our Facebook group.
Have you started job hunting?
I will. I heard that Tuck opens its career services to exchange students, too. Though I don’t plan to get a job overseas, I still think the service will be useful in finding a position in the Korean branches of global companies. One thing I will be missing is that fall is the recruiting season for Korean firms. But I think the experience at Tuck will more than make up for it.
Is it possible for you to go back to your previous employer?
It’s not impossible. But since I made a significant investment in doing the MBA, I hope to find a position where the salary is higher.
What do you most like about SKK?
We have a small but very diverse class body in terms of career, age and interest. So we have a lot to learn from each other.
And what do you don’t like?
It was difficult to get practical information on the exchange student program, such as how to get a good accommodation.
Interview by Cho Jin-seo