2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Jack Cheung, Cornell University (Johnson)

Jack Cheung

Samuel Curtis Johnson College of Business, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“I’m a Marine veteran dedicating my technical and business experience in service to others.”

Age: 37

Hometown: New York, NY

Family Members: Cecilia (wife), Venus (sister), Jeff (brother)

Fun fact about yourself: Commander Data on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” inspired me to become an engineer.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Binghamton University – B.S. in Mechanical Engineering

Cornell University – M. Eng. In System Engineering

Where are you currently working? Lockheed Martin, Engineering Program Manager

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I mentor veterans transitioning from end of service to the civilian sector, and volunteer for the Louis August Jonas Foundation, an international leadership program.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am really proud of my team’s win in the Cornell Shark Tank Competition. The Shark Tank Competition was the culminating event of our semester-long Innovation and New Venture Creation course, an entrepreneurship course focused on developing, starting, and launching a new business or an innovation project within an existing enterprise. I am especially proud of our team’s dedication and innovative ideas, which helped to turn our concept into a product. We are now in the process of launching it as a real business! Being able to contribute to a high performing team is my proudest achievement.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My proudest achievement is receiving the Asian American Most Promising Engineer of the Year Award in 2016. It was an unexpected honor as a young technical leader in a highly competitive profession.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? There are many great professors, but my favorite professor was our Strategy professor, Professor Justin Johnson. He was highly engaging and offered a unique perspective on various past and on-going business situations. His most memorable prediction was on the video gaming industry, and we still trade emails periodically regarding his prediction being validated.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I am a little biased because I have already received a master’s degree in Engineering from Cornell University. I chose Cornell’s Executive MBA Metro NY program because of Cornell University’s reputation, outstanding alumni network, and alumni engagement after graduation. Ultimately, it was my audit of Professor Justin Johnson’s class that won me over during the application process.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the interactions inside and outside the classroom with our diverse group of faculty and students. It taught me many valuable perspectives that I would not have otherwise considered. It helped me become a more empathic person.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I was able to immediately apply at work was information about the organization behavior models and how to manage a high performing team. I was the lead engineer on a large development program at the time and several of my decisions were based on what I learned from Professor Michelle Duguid and Professor Elizabeth Mannix. More recently, Professor Risa Mish’s teachings on critical thinking and leadership influence helped me tremendously when I transitioned into a new role and began to lead a new team.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I was engaged before I decided to enroll in the Cornell Executive MBA Metro NY program and my wedding date was in the middle of the first semester. Fortunately, I had a good team both at work and in school who helped me carry the load for about 10 days when I traveled to Cancun for my wedding. My advice is don’t try to do things by yourself. Build a strong team that can support you.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Be steadfast on your commitment once you enter the Executive MBA Metro NY program. It is going to be important to focus on time management and prioritizing tasks. The program will demand a lot and it will be a balancing act. Make sure your family and work colleagues understand and are supportive of the huge commitment and journey you have chosen. It is critical to have a strong support group at home and at work during each phase of the program.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I think the biggest myth is it will be extremely competitive among peers and it won’t be that enjoyable. I have found the experience to be a “friendly” competition where we help each other learn as a cohort while striving to become better on an individual level. It is less direct competition than I expected based on my engineering school experience. I have found the program at Cornell Johnson to be very enjoyable – both the in-class learning experience and the program networking experience.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire many of my classmates, but Robert Rizzolo had the biggest impact on my experience. Robert’s ability to balance his tremendous workload, personal life, and schoolwork is amazing, and I truly admire his ability to prioritize and manage time. I also admire Robert’s ability to connect and understand people. Robert is a genuine empathetic leader, something that I am striving to become

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized I needed formal business training to complement my Marine leadership experience and my engineering education.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to secure a position where I can influence change, contribute towards a positive legacy, and inspire others to be better.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope I will be remembered as a friend who they can lean on.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Travel to see all 7 Natural Wonders of the World
  2. Attend my siblings’ weddings!

What made Jack such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?  

“Jack’s exemplary leadership skills, collaborative spirit, and loyal nature contributed to his success in Cornell’s Executive MBA Metro NY program. Not only did Jack serve in an elected class leadership capacity, but also his collegial style and strong commitment to his academic studies enhanced not only his Cornell Executive MBA experience but that of his classmates as well.”

Joy Dellapina
Executive Director


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.