2019 Best EMBAs: Celestine Tung, Rice University (Jones)

Celestine S. Tung

Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University

“Empathetic, compassionate individual who strives to help others and who devotedly cares for her family.”

Age: 42

Hometown: Houston, TX

Family Members: My husband, Shayan Izaddoost, and 3 children: Ariana (13), Lela (11), and Kian (7).  My mom and dad, Suh-Chyn (Kim) and Walter Tung, and sister Jessica Tung.

Fun fact about yourself: I held and administered a rabies vaccine to an Ecuadorian pet monkey when I was 16.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • Austin College, BA in Biochemistry, 1998
  • Baylor College of Medicine, MD, 2003
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, MPH, 2003

Where are you currently working? I am an Associate Professor in Gynecologic Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • Associate Residency Program Director in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine
  • Norton Rose Fulbright Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching and Evaluation
  • Faculty sponsor for the Woman to Woman Program at Baylor College of Medicine – a support program that pairs GYN cancer survivors with women who are newly diagnosed and undergoing treatment for gyn cancer
  • I also enjoy reading, skiing, traveling, and weekend family movie nights.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud that I was able to train and run the Houston half-marathon during my first year of business school. At the same time, I was able to balance my time to attend the performances and athletic events that my children participated in throughout the last two years while back in school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of teaching my residents to perform some of their first surgeries and of knowing that the skills they learn will go on to help thousands of women.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Jing Zhou. She pushed us to question our assumptions and traditional thought process and encouraged us to think outside the box and look at our challenges from a different lens.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Leading for Creativity and Innovation. As a physician, I conventionally use the left-side of my brain and never considered myself as a creative person. I learned that with the right tools I can learn to be creative and generate new ideas that I would never have considered. The first step is to make sure that I am asking the proper question and solving the right problem.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? Rice University has a close relationship and partnership with several institutions in the Texas Medical Center, including Baylor College of Medicine. The school is well-respected by senior leadership in all the hospital systems and has a strong reputation among my colleagues. The professors are experts in their field and are excited to share their knowledge and research with their students.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I really enjoyed getting to know my classmates and meeting people outside of medicine.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? Some days were long and hectic but necessary to make sure that I balanced work, school, and family. I remember one busy class weekend in which I got to the hospital at 6 a.m. to round on my patients before my 8 a.m. class and then planned to attend class all day. However, during the morning, a patient called and required emergency surgery. I performed surgery during lunch and made it back for the majority of the afternoon class session. As soon as class was done, I headed out to watch my daughter compete in an evening swim meet.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My advice would be to remember that the most important parts of the executive MBA experience are not your grades but rather the opportunity to learn and practice new skills as well as networking and getting to know new colleagues.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth about going back to school is that it is difficult to acclimate back into a classroom setting and to learn something new. The professors were phenomenal and invigorated our thirst to continue the learning process. So many of my classmates and I have already planned to return after graduation to audit more classes.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret is not having enough time to take more electives that would challenge me to learn completely new subject matter. I also regret not having more time to attend networking and social events with my classmates.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Some of the most amazing people are in my class. Some have lost jobs and entered new industries; others have taken on the challenges of new executive positions — all while balancing schoolwork and family responsibilities. The one that I most admire is Rajesh Mehta for his gift to lead the class by example and for encouraging and helping others grow personally and professionally. I was fortunate to have Rajesh as a teammate. He always encouraged us to think broadly and was always willing to spend whatever time was needed to explain concepts to make sure everyone understood and learned. He also executed his vision to create an investment group that brought our classmates together and helped fortify bonds that will last a lifetime.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that the successful practice of medicine required not only an excellent bedside manner and medical knowledge but also a good foundation in understanding the economics and business of medicine.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to make a positive impact on healthcare by teaching other physicians and medical trainees more about the business aspect and quality improvement initiatives in medicine and help bridge the widening gap between physicians and administration.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want my peers to remember me as a hard-working colleague who wanted to see everyone succeed and help them to achieve that success.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Run the Houston marathon and island-hopping in Greece

What made Celestine such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“Dr. Tung is a highly-accomplished physician and health care leader. Despite her significant accomplishments and heavy workload, she joined our EMBA program two years ago to continue to learn and grow. This action itself is quite admirable, as she has a hectic schedule and numerous responsibilities in her own field.

Since joining the Rice Business EMBA program, she has demonstrated amazing intellectual curiosity, leadership, and teamwork. I interacted with her in three courses: leading innovation, negotiation, and micro-foundations of managing the global firm. These are very different topics. She excelled in all of them. She is a great listener, makes thoughtful comments, and connects various areas of academic inquiry and management practice with speed, thoughtfulness, and novel insights. She is poised, friendly and works very well with her fellow students. The EMBA students who worked on projects and papers in the same group benefitted tremendously from her insights and work ethic. She delivered such excellent work that sometimes I had to give her an A+, which is extremely rare for me to do in my 20 plus years of teaching.

She leads in a humble manner. Instead of bragging how smart she is, how hard she works, and how high the quality of her work is —as some in leadership positions do she leads others to get the job done while exhibiting humility. Her positive presence and influence make everyone who is fortunate to know her a better person.

When one thinks about a busy medical doctor who is pursuing an EMBA degree in a highly challenging program, one can easily imagine the stress. However, it really surprises me that Celestine is always so calm. She smiles confidently, listens to others attentively and with great patience, and extends a helping hand whenever needed. She represents the best and the brightest not just in a high-quality EMBA program, but really in any profession. I give her the highest recommendation.”

Jing Zhou

Mary Gibbs Jones Professor of Management

Area Coordinator, Organizational Behavior Area

Dean’s Senior Advisor on International Affairs

Director for Asian Management Research and Education

Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

Rice University


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