Five years in the medical device industry didn’t meet Peggy Chung's career expectations, so the former clinical research scientist turned to the HEC Paris MBA in search of life-changing opportunities.
Ohio-born Chung felt that opportunities for progression were limited in her job – most at Abbott Vascular, a division of Abbott, one of the world's leading vascular care businesses.
“My position [at Abbott Vascular] was very niche,” she says. “Everybody did sort of very button-pushing tasks. I worked at two very small start-ups before that, so I felt very isolated [at my previous job].”
She worked for four medical device companies in California after graduating from University of California at Davis with a BSc in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behaviour. The 26-year-old says that the idea of doing an MBA crept up on her last summer.
“Firstly, it occurred to me it might be the path I want to take, as my previous position wasn’t going to take me any further,” notes Chung, whose role involved designing and examining prototypes of medical devices and standard-testing.
“I want to be able to make many decisions. I wasn’t at the level where I could make lots decisions for the company,” she says.
With her heart set on a top European MBA program, Chung applied to HEC Paris and London Business School, and HEC Paris was first to respond.
“HEC was the one I heard back quicker from and the one that I wanted to go.“I knew I wanted to go somewhere ranked at the top, because I didn’t think there would be enough [value] doing an MBA otherwise,” she explains.
Chung also says that post-MBA job prospects after her studies in Paris sounded irresistible: “This might be an opportunity to be bilingual and to be able to work in Europe.”
Chung arrived in Paris in early September to begin the 16-month HEC Paris MBA program. Though classes hadn’t kicked off at the time of writing, an international atmosphere was already noticeable.
“The school is extremely international; we’ve got people from every continent in the world,” she says. “I’ve noticed people can speak quite number of languages.”
Though her intermediate-level French requires improvement, Chung looks forward to being able to take classes taught in French at HEC, as the school offers the opportunity to do a bilingual session of classes for students whose French is strong enough.
In a bid to promote her future alma mater, Chung has already started a blog to record what could be a life-changing experience in Europe.
“There wasn’t enough out-reach for HEC [in the US]. This is a great program in Europe and I really want the Americans to hear about it. The blog is a way for me to share with Americans my stories from HEC,” says Chung whose goal is to post two entries every month.
Chung describes her blog as: “Growing up, branching out, and getting an MBA in the process”.
When the time comes for her to say farewell to HEC’s southwest Paris campus, Chung hopes to have secured a job in either luxury marketing or international sales. But one thing is certain: she is eager to learn the European way of doing business.
“I would like to learn how business is done in Europe,” Chung says. “They do things differently than us: their vacation is longer; their approach is more laid-back… We Americans could learn a lot from that.
“As George Clooney said: ‘I go to Europe to live, and come back to US to work.”