“What this MBA brought to me” – Soyeh KIM
In fact, I was very hesitant to share my story when I was asked from the school. The reason was that I am not a successful career woman enough to put my story through this campaign and that is why I am not as capable or superior as others. I was just a selfish student who wanted to receive the maximum return on my investment of my time, effort and tuition for this MBA study.
At least for me, it’s clear that this MBA has been a valuable gift that has really helped me grow a lot in my career path. So I hope any new MBA students who worry about future jobs after graduating, especially during this difficult economic situation from Covid-19 right now, could find motivation again and be encouraged through my actual story on career change through this MBA.
I graduated from Korea University, one of the top 3 universities in Korea, and have been working in Korea for over 10 years. I worked at a pharmaceutical company as an Accounting & Finance manager, and also managed my own company of Math and English academy as a CEO in South Korea. While living in my country, it is true that I was quite confident in my education background and work experiences until before coming to Luxembourg.
In December 2014, when my husband was sent to Luxembourg as an Expat, I quit my job and came here. I might say that I was a competent career woman in Korea, but it was very different in Europe.I couldn’t speak the language necessary in this country properly, I lacked knowledge of businesses and working experiences in Europe. So I realised I should not be arrogant but humble. When I came to Europe, my first thought was “Let’s come back to the mindset when I started to work after graduating university and learn step by step from the beginning””
My MBA started in this way.
It was the first Economic class that strengthened my attitude of “let’s be humble” that I decided with the start of the MBA.
I studied hard all night long enough to solve all the test questions in the textbook during taking Economics, my first MBA course. However, in the middle and final exams, I was so surprised to find essay-type questions, which was completely different from my expectation. I prepared for the exam only based on the textbook and I couldn’t even clearly understand the question itself. Finally, I got a grade of “F”.
It was very shocking to me because I was always one of the best students during my primary and secondary schooling in South Korea and never received this grade also in the University. Then, I was seriously thinking to quit this MBA from realising that this is completely different from studying in Korea and I’m not capable of this MBA if I was “F,” even after studying so hard. I met the Admin director, Mr.Antoine to discuss quitting this MBA.
When Professor Alfred, who was teaching this Economic course, called me, I suddenly burst into tears and I said it would be better to give up on the MBA.
At this time, when he told me “Soyeh, we evaluated all your academic background and working experiences during admission evaluation, then we finally decided to accept you as our student because we thought you are capable of this MBA study. The result of your first course is not everything and you can find out the right direction of your studying through this experience.” I also remember Mr. Antoine, admission director, encouraged me by saying ” When you would graduate two years later with competition from all courses with good grades, we might laugh together by mentioning “what if I had quit my MBA then?”.
The experience of failing to receive an “F” in Economics, a basic subject that everyone can easily pass, has always humbled me in front of every learning during my MBA studying.
In every class, I had no choice but to study through the night, and I searched the concepts that I didn’t understand well through YouTube to listen even while driving. Because listening and speaking in English was not easy for me and I couldn’t understand properly sometimes without this kind of hard preparation in advance.
I had to prepare all classes so humbly for two years, and in every class, I had to focus on 100% to learn without forgetting each professor’s explanation and classmates’ opinions.
The reason was because I was convinced that through failure, I was able to pinpoint my deficiency and where I am, and humbly learn everything, that this is the best way to get the highest return on the time, effort, and tuition I have invested in this MBA
I, who had lost confidence and tried to give up this MBA, actually learned more through failure and I graduated with excellent achievements by receiving a Leadership Award in 2018.
When I was taking the “Management” course, the professor Tony shared many good stories and experiences we need to know at the Manager level, from Finance to Effective leadership and team Management. One of the most memorable words from him was to consider a small company where I could contribute more than an oversized organization so my skills and capabilities could shine more valuably. Now I am experiencing firsthand the true meaning of Professor Tony’s words. I am the CFO at MasonBower and take responsibility for the company’s internal financial strategy and planning, and as a client consulting project, I am in charge of all financial consulting from financial business plan to enterprise valuation for supporting startups/SMEs funding opportunities as well as supporting Korean business development from my native language in Korean. When I was joining MasonBower in 2018, there were less than 10 employees as a small sized entity but this company had a lot of potential for business growth. Also this company was looking for Korean speaking Finance professional. Because I joined the company where my knowledge and experiences in South Korea were able to be useful and shine more than what I had actually, thankfully, I could enjoy my working a lot with great motivation.
Through the MBA, I could combine theoretical knowledge through in-depth learning with the practical skills in Accounting and Finance, which I have learned mechanically through actual work in South Korea. This enabled me to develop better insight to plan and lead the company’s financial strategic direction in the mid-to-long term.
The MBA is not just a part of each subject’s textbook or learning on theory. Experience of sharing different thoughts and experiences regarding various topics with different professors, classmates from different countries and cultures is a much more valuable thing that I would never have had during my 41 years of life before I started my MBA.
Through this time, I was able to learn naturally how to truly understand different cultures and communicate with open-mind and no prejudice by discovering strengths and good things from each of them and learning to respect each other. This valuable experience I learned through the process of establishing relationships with various people from different cultures is really helping me whenever I meet clients from various countries and have business meetings at current workings.
As I shared my story, I’m not special and also not so professional at my career. Still my English needs improvement a lot and also I need to learn more and study continuously to be a good CFO. Also I don’t think my career development was possible through only my personal efforts. I was able to happily achieve the second chapter of Professional Development in Europe because I could start working at a great company, MasonBower, I can contribute a lot for. It was possible that there was our CEO, Mr.James MONNAT(he is also a SHU MBA Alumni) who has always trusted me and opened up many opportunities to challenge new ideas and planning. Also, there were my valuable MasonBower colleagues who encouraged me whenever I was exhausted and helped me whenever I felt my limitation of capabilities and tried to give up. Most of all, there was my great family who were very supportive during MBA and working now. So, I can still dream today the third chapter of my personal and professional developments after 5 years, 10 years and even 20 years.
For the near future, I’m dreaming of 2 objectives in my career as a 5 years planning. One is to become a strategic and operational CFO who is very confident in not only in Accounting and Finance management and knowledge but also in creating the strategic plans to move a company forward for business growth. The other is to provide services of “outsourced CFO” to our future clients who are expanding their business into Europe and set-up their entity in Luxembourg. In order to be able to step closer to my professional development plan after 5 years, I will continue a new challenge and learn with a humble attitude as I appreciate it as an opportunity to learn whenever a new responsibility is given.