2019 Best EMBAs: Julia Shin, Indiana University (Kelley)

Jungwan (Julia) Shin

Indiana University Kelley School of Business/SKK Graduate School of Business, Sungkyunkwan University

“Positive challenger who passionately and courageously pursues innovation, turning the impossible into the possible.”

Age: 52

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Family Members: Me, my husband and our daughter

Fun fact about yourself: I have often been told that I can’t do something I really wanted to do because of “some” reasons. Despite their worries, I continued to pursue what I believed with confidence and a positive mindset. For instance, when I wanted to get promoted as head of an organization at a U.S. firm, some said that I wouldn’t get promoted because I am female, Asian, and a local person. However, I made it. And when I was thinking of studying in the executive MBA program, many people said that I couldn’t complete the program because I am “too old to study.” But I accomplished it at the age of 52 with even better results than I expected. My life seems to be an ongoing journey, where I need to make the “impossible” into the ‘’possible.”

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Executive MBA from Indiana University Kelley School of Business

Executive MBA from SKK GSB, Sungkwunkwan University Korea

Bachelor of Arts, University of New South Wales, Australia

E-Business Research, School of Business of RMIT University, Melbourne Australia

International Studies Research, School of Government and PA of University of Sydney, Sydney Australia

Where are you currently working?

AJPOP Business Consulting Korea as CEO and representative management business coach:

  • Helping CEOs improve managerial capability and competitive advantage via 1:1 business coaching and other training
  • Assisting the CEO-succession process with succession planning and business management teaching to successors.
  • Helping the management with executive roles via executive business training
  • Having CEOs and CEO successors connected to well-known successful leaders from different entities including government organizations, corporations, and universities for support, insights, and inspirations
  • Offering business and economic forms for CEOs with high-level leaders in Korea giving lectures and discussions including government officers, well-known professors, presidents of associations, and other professionals like corporate lawyers
  • Providing public lectures on business management, entrepreneurship, corporate culture, and leadership to the employees of corporations and other organizations

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The company that I established three years ago was selected and certified as a “2019 excellent company” in the sector of consulting CEO and CEO successors. I think this is partially attributed to the EMBA program. I applied business knowledge that I learned from the executive MBA to my real-world business practices. I am so proud of what I did during business school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I was at AIG Korea, the CEO announced that AIG faced an unprecedented, serious crisis affecting its worldwide business, not to mention AIG in all countries. We struggled with great confusion and loss, but we tried to find the best solutions to recover by protecting our customers from leaving AIG and reducing loss. Our team stayed focused on roles and responsibilities with greater efforts. I remember I stayed late at my office almost every day to resolve so many related issues. There were many customer complaints and very high staff turnover. One day, I got a letter from the president of AIG’s head office. It said, “It is an extraordinary time for our business. Our business is fundamentally based on people, and you play an important role in executing AIG’s strategy. Thank you for your extraordinary contribution and dedication to AIG.” I voluntarily had great dedication and commitment and I really wanted to contribute to the recovery of the business during a very bad time for AIG. This is the most memorable and fruitful time in my professional career.

Another more recent and important achievement for me happened in 2018, while I was studying for the executive MBA. One day, one of my clients called me with an urgent tone in his voice and asked me to come to his office suddenly, saying that his company might be in deep trouble. His son had expanded his business in expectation of business growth and increasing trade between Korea and China. But after the strained relationships between the two countries arose in 2017, trade decreased suddenly and the impact was huge. Many similar businesses were failing and or were in crisis. He asked me to help the company. I prepared detailed crisis management plans. Fortunately, the solutions applied worked out. In fact, I applied much of the knowledge that I learned from the EMBA program and it helped. My previous business work experience and the MBA knowledge that I gained were all well combined and applied successfully!

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • My company was selected and certified as a “2019 Excellent Company in Korea in Consulting CEO and CEO Successors” by NICE SI, Korea’s No. 1 corporate evaluation organization in 2019
  • Honored for academic excellence by the business school
  • Awarded the “Gold Prize of Outstanding Achievement” by the business school
  • “Future CEO scholarship” recipient
  • Selected as Secretary General for Korea’s business and economic forum
  • Mentor to MBA student in SKK GSB

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? It was the Management of Organization course, which dealt with many topics relating to the management of organizations, including business power, social networking, employee behaviors, leadership, and corporate social responsibility. During the course, our class considered the interesting experiences of successful people like Heidi Roizen and Monica Ashley, which I found very exciting and related to my daily business activity. During the class, we discussed real-world business issues and individual behaviors and interactions which affect every organization. It covered the behaviors of senior executives that affect the entire business management process and social welfare. When we diagnosed problems and challenges in class, I realized why win-win networking skills are very necessary for better business standing and decisions.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The school has an incredible mix of courses as well as great professors who help students learn fundamental business management skills. In fact, I chose the school because the whole program was so exciting and the professors deliver business knowledge effectively and share real-world business experiences. For example, Dean and Professor Idie Kesner would be a great role model for anyone. She guides students to think deeply on how business strategies should be based on global perspectives. Professor Eric Shih and Professor Rockney Walters are great professors in teaching marketing strategies in this MBA program with their real business experiences at large companies such as GE, Apple, Samsung, and LG. Professor Jaeha Lee and Professor Andrew Yi are well-respected professors who are effective teachers skills possessing great business knowledge. They so pleasantly spend time with students and share many real-world practices. I guess all of the professors in the MBA program are great and amazing with a very good mix of business knowledge and practices. This is the reason for my choosing this MBA program. I enjoyed my choice indeed.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Since I have been working at global companies for many years, I just wanted to study at the business school to help me combine my business experience with the academic knowledge to upgrade my business skills. This was the reason why I chose and enjoyed the program so much.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? “Do not stop learning!” This was the biggest lesson, I learned and a lot more than I expected.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? I had a decent talk with my husband for his support and understanding before I applied for the MBA program. He gave me a great understanding and support all the time. More importantly, I always thought of my daughter who was studying medicine at the university and hospital. When I thought of her hard work, nothing was comparable. I studied very hard. I tried to manage time carefully in order to not miss any assignments and lectures. I got up early in the morning to read for class assignments. I often went to bed late to do homework and read articles for MBA. However, I always made sure to get to sleep before midnight so I could be efficient and effective at work during the day. The biggest challenge was using time effectively.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? This executive MBA program is so great. I can’t explain how great the program is. Please be open and brave and do not worry too much about it. Just go ahead with courage and boldness. You will figure it out. Your peers will encourage each other to finish the MBA journey completely. In my particular cohort alone, there was such a diverse group of talented people. For instance, one particular member was an outstanding leader who ensured that we stayed focused on our studies. Another was able to share with us the latest technology knowledge that he acquired in his professional career. Finally, another valued classmate brought a sincere happiness and enthusiasm to every session which lessened the pressure of balancing academics with our work and social lives. I strongly recommend this executive MBA. Your future self will be so proud of what you did today!”

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Before returning to school, I unsure about how the experience would affect my life. Since graduating, time-and-time again I realize this executive MBA has left a great impact on me every day. It gave me great knowledge. More importantly, it gave me great pride. And it gave me great connections, thanks to Kelley’s strong alumni all over the world.

What was your biggest regret in business school? The only regret that I have was that I had to miss two days – one due to a business trip to Europe and the other one due to the flu. I tried to attend all the classes and get focused on what professors delivered. I really enjoyed each class indeed.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I thank Jiyoung Lee, who always encouraged me to stay focused on studying. She helped me stick with completing the program whenever I became worried about my tight schedule for work and study. Like me, she takes care of work and also is a wife and mother. Unlike me, she was required to complete the program by her employer. I could have dropped out if I wanted, but she kept encouraging me – telling me that this program could have a great impact after graduation. Because of the many business trips I must take – which require a lot of energy and time – I had to use every weekend for my studies, which was very tiring. We shared with each other what worked in balancing concerns at work and home with our studies.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I wanted to upgrade my professional experience and abilities, through better academic business knowledge and become more confident of my business management skills.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to make my company become the No. 1 business coaching company in Korea, based on the reputation of the most respected companies I serve. I want to help my clients grow and succeed in their visions coming true. This is my vision.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? The nice cohort who always showed passion, challenge and courage, and who stayed focus on the lectures and would continue to build good friendships even after graduation

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Talk with 100 successful leaders worldwide, face to face, by 2021 and then share their great tips with my clients for their success in life and business
  2. Having a great time and fun in Northern Europe with my daughter and husband in two years, after my daughter finishes her degree.

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

“All of the EMBA faculty and her classmates will agree that Julia Shih genuinely cares about the things she does and, most importantly, the people with whom she works. She is an intellectually curious person who inspires those around her to invest their time and energy into their studies as well as to the welfare of one another. Despite the rigor of the academic program and the sacrifices it took on participants’ time and energy, she faced every challenge with an enthusiastic “can-do” attitude that brightened the environment for both students and faculty alike. She clearly is the type of person you would readily consider as a mentor, a valued colleague, and a friend.”

Eric Shih

Vice Dean for Faculty and Executive MBA Program, Indiana University

Andrew Yi, Vice dean for Academic Programs and Associate Professor of Finance

SKK Graduate School of Business (Korea)


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