2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Po-yee Lam, University of Chicago (Booth)

Po-yee Lam

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Passionate and genuine, yet ambitious and determine.”

Age: 33

Hometown: Hong Kong, China

Family Members: Kam Yuen LAM and Lai Ching Wong (Parents), Ka Ho Pun (Husband), Wai Ko LAM (Brother)

Fun fact about yourself: Since I was a kid, I had already interest in human beings and our interaction with the world, which brings to Sociology at college. Fun fact is business school had never come up in my mind.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor degree of Social Sciences, Lingnan University; Master degree of Nonprofit Management, The University of Hong Kong

Where are you currently working? Teen’s Key – Young Women Development Network Limited, Founder and Executive Director

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I was the captain of the volleyball team in high school and very active in the debate team and student council. I was awarded the “Inspiring Woman Award” by Marie Claire Hong Kong in 2019.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? With a background in social sciences, I am proud that I “survived” the finance classes in Booth. Before I joined Booth, I am afraid of looking the P&L at the meeting, but now I am quite comfortable with the financial data and analysis.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I started my own company right after I graduated from college. It’s a charity helping vulnerable young girls in Hong Kong, including young girls with unintended pregnancies and those who fall into sex industry. Since then, we helped over 7,000 young girls overcame their life crises and rebuild their lives. It took lots of courage to start from scratch; I learned so much from this experience. It is still challenging to communicate the importance of helping marginalized communities as society holds many stigmas on them. I am proud of both my persistence and resilience as a social entrepreneur.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Linda Ginzel! Her courses inspired me a lot about my own leadership experiences and helped and still helping me to find blind spots of my leadership style.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? The University of Chicago Booth had collaborated with philanthropy in Hong Kong to offer scholarships to leaders in non-profit organizations. Booth amazed me with their academically rigorous approach, which is exactly what I needed at the career stage at that time. While my company is growing, I need to build a solid knowledge base to back me up. Also, the PURE Chicago Booth approach attracted me the most. All three campuses offer access to the same course and the same faculty. The Hong Kong new campus allowed me to continue my work during studying, apply my new learning right away.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Nothing can stop my cohort from learning new things in Booth. I learned so much from my cohort from diverse backgrounds, the interaction both inside and outside the classroom is the most valuable asset of the program. The brainstorming and discussions exist in the classroom, but also at study rooms, lunch tables, and bars. You can feel everyone is eager to learn, which also pushes me even further.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Decision-making has to be well informed with data and evidence. The finance training in Booth taught me how to collect, use, and test the data. In the meantime, the social psychology class helps me to turn my defaults and avoid falling into the traps due to my biases. This framework is planted deep in my mind now: “Show me the data.” It is the most frequent statement I made in the meeting.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? I applied for the school in the middle of my wedding planning. It was a disaster! I had to balance my work, the school application, and the wedding planning at the same time. This made me so exhausted. This situation continued when the program first started. I wanted to find a way to balance my work, family life, and education, I want everything to be perfect, which is impossible. Eczema found me when my stress level was the highest in my life; my hands were so itchy and painful due to the allergy. The doctor said it was caused by stress mainly in my case. I try to push myself further, but my body sent me a signal: I have to rethink my “balance”. After the incident, I understand there is no “balance” between all of these, I can’t make all of them perfect, but I can learn from the progress and the time be with my family.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Make the best of the time in class and school resources. As mature students, many of us are crazily busy at work and family life already. Be focused and learn as much as possible during class shorten my time for later revision.

The lesson I learned is that focus on the study while you are in class; enjoy when you have time be with your family; be present when you are working.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school?

Myth: MBA is about networking not about learning.

Reality: False! Learning is important, but the network will not be useful if you are not ready for it.

What was your biggest regret in business school? No regrets!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? So many! I admire all parents in the program, I think they did really well, I witnessed so many times that they have a quick phone call with kids during break and preparing exams together! Specifically, I will say Ms. Yuyun Li, mother of two and has an exceptional career at the same time. She is an insatiable learner. You can feel her energy in the classroom. I learned so much from her.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I can’t find anyone to answer my questions!

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Run a social business that can provide sustainable economic support to vulnerable young women.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who brings social values into the business world.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? No, I try my best to live in the present.

What made Bowie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020? “I would highly recommend Bowie as one of the best and brightest Executive MBA graduates in 2020.

Bowie is one of the recipients of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Chicago Booth Executive MBA Program Scholarship. This scholarship empowers students with global vision, international network, and world-class education, thereby building the capacity of Hong Kong’s social service section to respond to increasingly complex social problems in the 21st century. As a young social entrepreneur, she is looking to grow her organization and believes that her studies through the HKJC scholarship will empower her with the right tools and offer her the knowledge, support, and network needed to achieve Teen’s Key’s goals.

Bowie Lam is Founder and Executive Director of Teen’s Key – Young Women Development Network Limited. Bowie founded the organization shortly after graduating from university. Teen’s Key aims to help girls and young women who are trapped in the sex trade, and more broadly promote gender equality in Hong Kong. She finds that being a young female social entrepreneur is a meaningful but challenging path. She realized that the methods that the social sector had developed were decades ago and she felt a strong need to change.

Bowie is extremely passionate and realizes that continuous learning is the key to future leadership. She is an eager learner and wanted to improve herself. With such strong vision and goals, she demonstrates enthusiasm and commitment throughout the program.

She believes in lifelong learning and has been a big supporter of the school. She is a great ambassador of Booth and a great networker. She shares her experience openly with new admits and prospective students, helping them to know more about our program and how it has changed her perspectives at work and personally.

She has a clear vision of what to accomplish next when she finished her program.”

Janet Quek
Program Director
Executive MBA Program Asia





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