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Christine nominated Ivy because of the growth she witnessed. Christine says.  “Ivy was very active with Graduate Women in Business events, took the initiative to get to know everyone and became involved with our United State of Women initiative. Her ability to secure a new role at Google is a testament to driving your own experience at Booth. To me, Ivy is a great representation of what an MBA experience can be like for a woman in business — it can be transformational and can give you the tools to bring your future vision to life.”


Ivy Sun, Evening MBA student and Strategy & Insights Manager at Google

How did you end up in a career in healthcare in the United States?

I was born and raised in China. I came to the US for a master’s degree from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. I wanted to have the experience of working in the US, rather than just being a student here, and was able to find a position at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

What attracted you to healthcare?

I grew up in a family that really valued a healthy diet, exercise, and taking care of yourself, so health and wellbeing have been a personal passion for me. I felt that healthcare was a constantly evolving field with long-term career prospects as people always need care. The healthcare system across the world is so complicated, but that’s where the beauty comes from. There are so many things you can learn, you can always stretch yourself to do something different. Many of the people I’ve met in this field strive for greater social good and have a passion for it. They, like myself, want to make a contribution and help people spend less time inside a hospital and more time enjoying a healthy and happy life.

When did an MBA enter the picture?

An MBA has always been on my radar. Both my parents did their MBAs part-time and talked about how transformative the experience was. An MBA was on my mind, but I wanted to do it for the right reason at the right time.  Around the start of the pandemic, I had just received a promotion at Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. As a manager, I could see the scope of my job was expanding. I was no longer being gauged purely by my technical abilities, but instead on how I handled relationships and managed more complex projects. That’s when I started to seriously consider an MBA. I knew I could learn things in a more systematic and comprehensive fashion in an MBA program than learning on my own.

Chicago Booth MBA student Ivy Sun

"Booth has helped me to my day-to-day affects and is affected by others. The more holistic and strategic view enables me to go beyond the numbers...That is how my education has empowered me."

— Ivy Sun

You started Booth during the pandemic. How have you built community during this time?

Actually, because of the pandemic I was able to connect with more people and attend more events virtually. We also were able to welcome many more distinguished alumni and other speakers from around the world, joining Booth events via Zoom. Admittedly, in a virtual environment we lack spontaneous hallway conversations, but if you make an intentional effort and proactively reach out to people, you will find that others are often more willing and more available to connect.

The cohort I launched with (attended Booth’s orientation with) has a special bond. To a certain degree the pandemic sped up the process. I’m definitely missing out on the personal experience — in fact, some of the people I’ve become closest to I’ve never met in person. I try to think about the positive aspects of this time and how to make the most out of this situation.

Name a highlight of your Booth experience

I am now an Innovation Fund associate with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I never thought about venture capital before, but this opportunity allows students to do due diligence on an early stage science venture, see what the opportunity is to be commercialized, and what the long term potential might be. I appreciate the variety of opportunities the university has provided for us to test things. It goes back to the Chicago Approach, which is about experimentation and figuring out what might work for you in a relatively low risk environment. The greatest revelation from this opportunity was that I realized venture capital is cool but not for me at this stage in my career. 

In my first quarter at Booth, a great opportunity came up with the United State of Women, which addresses issues facing women and other marginalized genders. A former part-time Booth student was serving as the Illinois ambassador of the program and launched a female entrepreneur accelerator program. We organized workshops to provide these entrepreneurs with knowledge to improve their business outcomes. It was fascinating to see how women could empower other women. The program gives them knowledge, resources and a network of previous cohorts. I was so inspired to meet these participants, hear their stories, and learn about the obstacles they had to overcome on their path to achieve their dreams.

How has your education impacted your career?

It’s more about how you think about things. I really like what my Operations Management professor, Sergio Chayet said, which is that the unique part about an MBA is that your professors come from all kinds of backgrounds (economics, finance, engineering, sociology, psychology, etc.), something most graduate programs don’t provide. This allows you to learn a very diverse set of ways to approach and solve problems. You also learn from your fellow classmates, who bring different perspectives into the discussion. It’s such an enriching experience and leads you to think more expansively about career paths and opportunities. 

I started my career in analytics, which is technical. Booth has helped me to see how different business units are interconnected and how my day-to-day affects and is affected by others. The more holistic and strategic view enables me to go beyond the numbers. Now I look at the numbers and ask ‘so what?’ What is the implication? How does that connect to other parts of the organization? That is how my education has empowered me.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Chicago Booth’s professors are a great resource. I encourage my fellow schoolmates to seek advice and get help from Booth professors. Our faculty don’t just teach class, many of them have extensive industry experiences and connections, and can help you think through problems you struggle with. Earlier in the year I was exploring new opportunities and felt stuck. I reached out to Professor Dan Adelman, whose class I took at the Harris School five years ago. He jumped on a Zoom with me, shared his thoughts, and made my way forward much easier. When I was in the midst of interviews, I needed to gain some marketing knowledge very quickly. I reached out to my marketing strategy professor Berkeley Dietvorst and within a day he shared a bunch of resources. The network is not just your classmates and alumni, but Booth’s amazing faculty as well.

Read more about other Inspiring Women at Both:

Christine Koval

Tina Djenge

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