2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Heidi Wu, UCLA (Anderson)

Heidi Wu

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Age: 37

“A lifelong learner who works hard, plays hard, and loves to bring people together.”

Hometown: Bay Area, California

Family Members: Husband and Daughter

Undergraduate School and Degree: American Studies, B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz

Where are you currently working? Supply Chain Strategy at Amazon Devices

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:


Dean’s Challenge for Charity Volunteer Honors List

Leadership Roles:

President, Executive MBA Class of 2022

VP of FEMBA/EMBA Relations, Tech Business Association at Anderson (AnderTech)

VP of FEMBA/EMBA Relations, Women’s Business Connection (WBC)

VP of FEMBA/EMBA Relations, Japan America Business Association (JABA)

Member, Anderson Student Equity Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Council

Member, UCLA Anderson Board of Advisors

Committee Member, Young Tech Professionals Bootcamp, Innovate@UCLA

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? When I was admitted to Anderson in the summer of 2020, I immediately reached out to several student clubs I was interested in either joining or learning more about. The VP of FEMBA/EMBA Relations from Women’s Business Connection (WBC) got back to me quickly with a warm Anderson welcome and plenty of helpful information. That consideration and enthusiasm inspired me to give back, so I gladly accepted the offer to join the WBC Board in fall 2020 as the Director of EMBA Relations. My first event in this role was an “EMBA Women at Anderson” Zoom panel in winter 2021, featuring six women from the EMBA Classes of 2021 and 2022. I am most proud of this achievement during business school because I did not have any prior experience moderating panels, but was so captivated by my classmates’ incredible professional and personal journeys to Anderson that it pushed me outside my comfort zone; it led me to actively seek other opportunities to amplify EMBA stories and opportunities for our class to come together and build connections, despite the challenges of doing so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This admiration for my classmates motivated me to humbly accept the nomination and election results to serve as their Class President.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the finance expertise I developed over the last seven years when I pivoted away from nonprofit grant and program management to research and clinical finance at Stanford Medicine. As someone who did not enjoy quantitative classes growing up, I doubted myself numerous times. Through hard work, late nights at the office, and incredible mentorship, I built the foundations of my finance skills brick-by-brick, which was recognized with increasing responsibility, scope, and opportunities at Stanford.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose Anderson’s executive MBA program because of its diverse class profile, rich work and managerial experience, and breadth of electives and global learning opportunities. I spoke with three Anderson students before applying and they all echoed the idea that Anderson’s values to Share Success, Think Fearlessly, and Drive Change were not just words, but behaviors the faculty, students, alumni, and staff embraced and exemplified every day. The examples they shared made me certain Anderson was the right choice for me: students working together late into the night to prepare each other for job interviews, or students with accounting degrees taking the time to teach their marketing classmates – and vice versa – to get each other across the finish line. I knew this type of collaborative setting was the business school environment I wanted to be in.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I gained during my MBA was seeing how each and every member of my class has a unique and valuable perspective to bring, and how fortunate I am to have crossed paths with them. There is no other place I would be discussing market segmentation with entertainment executives one day and corporate strategy with tech professionals the next. I’ve applied this lesson at work by encouraging “devil’s advocate” moments to challenge our thinking and by giving colleagues opportunities to offer differing opinions before we close out the meeting or finalize action items.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My biggest advice for future EMBAs is that you get what you put into it, so don’t let these two years pass you by! I am so glad I said “yes” to many extracurricular activities early on because I’ve gained valuable friendships, academic experiences, and professional perspectives I would not have otherwise have had or come across.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth about going back to school as an Executive MBA student is that you’re not going back to being a high school or undergraduate student, but instead, adding graduate coursework on top of your professional and personal schedule.

I was very excited to be a student again, getting back-to-school supplies and all of my papers in order. However, I had forgotten how much effort outside of class time was needed to really dig in and master the course material. This required frequent reshuffling of my and my husband’s schedules to make sure I was prepared for study group and class discussions. Another aspect about this time management myth, when going back to school, is that you think you have more control of your time than reality allows. For example, the way the cold season will take everybody out of commission for several weeks, so work and school have to wait until everyone is healthy again. However, I appreciate that these external forces helped us EMBAs get hyper-focused on what was really important so that we, with our loved ones’ support, could cut through distractions to achieve our professional, academic and personal goals.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret was not being able to meet with my classmates in person sooner due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plus side, however, is that our class has come to really cherish these last few months in person together before graduation because we did not get to start our business school journeys in person as other classes had.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate I most admire is Jennifer Anson because of her unrivaled enthusiasm, big heart and fierce determination to show everyone, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Despite also being from the Bay Area, she did not let that stop her from going down to Anderson weekly to complete her certificate and specialization goals. She has continued to inspire me throughout the program to prove there are no limits to what is possible as an EMBA student.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I chose the executive MBA program because I wanted to learn with those who were making director and C-level decisions at their organizations. The “mini board” model of being paired with four classmates in different industries and functions at UCLA Anderson’s Executive MBA program drew me in because I wanted to experience bouncing ideas off of trusted and respected colleagues who could challenge and expand my thinking.

What made Heidi such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“Heidi made an impact from the moment she became a UCLA EMBA student and quickly became very well-known and respected among her classmates and the broader UCLA Anderson community. Heidi was elected to the role of Social Representative on the EMBA Class Council in the first quarter of her EMBA experience. Despite starting the program remotely, due to the pandemic, she immediately partnered with the other Social Representatives to find meaningful ways for her class to connect and eventually brought that innovation to fun in-person events.  She also developed a monthly class newsletter that she branded the EMBA ’22 Insider, and it highlighted events, classmates’ personal/professional achievements, birthdays and a collage of pictures. Heidi was recognized by her classmates as a stand out leader and voted into the role of Class President. She took this role very seriously and helped ensure the EMBA Class Council received the support it needed and remained organized. She even stepped into a leadership role while she and her classmates were on their International Business Residential program in Jordan in December 2021, helping to secure COVID tests, keeping a positive attitude and helping to keep her classmates organized amid some uncertainty.

Despite being a monthly student who travels to the UCLA campus from the Bay Area only once per month, Heidi has taken the initiative to connect with the broader UCLA Anderson community. She took on leadership roles in multiple clubs and organized events that connected EMBA students with other members of the Anderson student body.  Heidi has also been a huge asset to the EMBA Admissions team, speaking at admissions events and connecting one-on-one with prospective students to share her experience.

In addition to all of these contributions, Heidi was able to achieve academic success, earn multiple certificates and make a career shift from Stanford University’s Department of Medicine to Amazon. Heidi will be highly regarded and remembered for years to come by students, staff and professors as an exemplary student. We are confident she will also continue to make an impact as an alumna.”

Shannon Bell
Executive Director of Admissions, UCLA Anderson EMBA and UCLA-NUS


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