2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Sunny Song, Santa Clara University (Leavey)

Sunny Song

Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Family Members: I grew up with four sisters, and I’m the grumpy middle one.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m freakishly strong and loud sometimes according to my husband..

Undergraduate School and Degree:

PhD, Dept of Biochemistry at University of Colorado School of Medicine

Post Doctoral training at UC-Berkely Dept of Toxicology and Nutrition

Where are you currently working? Wuxi Biologics Inc.  Sr Manager Global Business Development and Alliance Management

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

The Arc San Francisco Nov 2021 – Present.  Social Services: Food Drive Community Service

Cabrillo College May 2021 – Present.  Lecturer Support for Services and Programs.  Advisor for STEM Students

Amplio Network Mar 2022 – Present. Poverty Alleviation.  Marketing Strategist

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I managed to survive Prof. Andy Tsay’s Business Analytics class, even though I didn’t know what I was doing, why I was doing it, or how to do it.…

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  I received the Spark Insight General Manager Award while working at Agilent Technologies. At the time, I was relatively young and had just completed my postdoc at Berkeley about a year prior, so I didn’t have much experience with the corporate world. Nevertheless, I worked tirelessly, even surviving through massive layoffs, and I’m proud to have received the award.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Tammy Madsen is my favorite professor. She is an exceptional all-around superstar who also shows empathy. I deeply admire her professionalism and unwavering dedication to imparting the most relevant, practical, and up-to-date industry knowledge to her students.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? The program offers a strong reputation, convenient location, flexible time allowance (including weekends and on-site options), and relatively affordable tuition costs compared to other similar programs in the Bay Area. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to study alongside classmates from Silicon Valley.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? During my MBA, I learned three important lessons. The first one I learned is that everyone has both strengths and weaknesses. In Chinese, it’s often referred to as ‘Yin and Yang,’ which symbolizes negativity and positivity (Note- I’m not Chinese, I’m Korean!). Second, I learned the value of the phrase, “Fake it until Make it,” which is often emphasized among business school students to instill self-confidence until it becomes second nature. I have observed instances where individuals who were unsure of themselves managed to succeed by adopting this approach. Third, I realized that sometimes, you have to “Wing It” when pressed for time, — and surprisingly, it can work wonders. I have applied these lessons in my workplace by recognizing both my strengths and weaknesses, building my self-confidence, and developing the ability to think on my feet when necessary.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Don’t wait.  Just do it. It’s worth it -from bottom of my heart.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth was that I thought people will behave differently because they are now adults. However, in reality, this was not the case. They were students once again (some were just like kids again!), and their behavior did not necessarily reflect their age or maturity level. This was different than what I had expected, as I thought that being in a more professional environment would lead to more responsible behavior. However, I quickly learned that everyone is there to learn and grow, regardless of their age or background.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I missed out on interacting with our awesome professors when opportunities presented themselves.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have great admiration for Vincent Brown due to his caring and knowledgeable nature, along with his warm heart and true leadership skills.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The main reason I opted for an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives was my desire to engage with other mature professionals who share similar interests.  I felt that the in-person format of an executive MBA program would provide a more immersive and collaborative learning experience, while also allowing me to build meaningful relationships with my classmates and faculty members.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to make a meaningful impact in the fields of business development, licensing, external pharma partnership, alliance management, and M&A. Within two years, I aspire to attain the position of Director in this field, with a focus on expanding operations in international foreign countries such as China, Korea, or Singapore. By the five-year mark, I aim to advance to the role of Senior Director in a Fortune 500 company specializing in these areas. Looking ahead ten years, my goal is to achieve the position of EVP/GM/CEO/CTO in a unicorn company operating in these fields.

What made (Student) such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?  

“Sunny brought so much to the Leavey EMBA Class of 2023. Her thirst for learning was obvious from the very first day of orientation. Sunny’s constant engagement with the subject matter at hand, interest in applying learning to her own context, and excitement about sharing her own knowledge and experience with her cohort made her contributions shine. Sunny’s mid-program career change demonstrated just how ready she was to flex her new skills and to put all of her many talents on display.”

Prof. Jo-Ellen Pozner
EMBA Faculty Director


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