Helen Wu is a current Full-Time MBA student. She recently worked as a product marketing manager for SmartNews and did marketing work at femtech startup Ollipsis Fertility. Before her time at Booth, she was a senior finance advisor for Shell Canada. She said her experience at Booth has helped her figure out how to align her career path and her passion for sustainability.
Applying for my MBA was a risk. I left Shell, where I’d worked for more than four years in finance, without a backup plan. I wanted to find a fast-paced role where I could leverage my experience and bring more of my passion for social impact to my work. I hoped that business school could help me gain new skill sets and meet people excited by the same causes.
When I first came to Booth, I wanted to focus on sustainability in consulting. I joined the Business Solutions Group, where students form small consulting teams for local businesses. My team was paired with AeroStar, a nonprofit company working on educating women and minorities about STEM opportunities. It got me interested in education within social impact and made me realize the importance of opening people’s eyes to the right sources of information.
As I think about social impact and education, the first step is for people to get the information they need to understand the issues. This perspective led me to a summer internship with the news app SmartNews. I joined this company because they’re aligned with my own values—their goal is to bring unbiased, trustworthy sources of information to consumers by using machine learning.
“If you’re able to help those close to you, and they pay that forward, the chain of positivity moves on. I think about social impact in the same way: if I volunteer ... hopefully I will inspire other people to do so, and eventually the world will become a better place.”
As a product marketing manager intern, a part of what I do is consumer research, trying to understand what drives our users and how they behave when they use our app. I was immediately tasked with doing the research to anticipate how users would react to a new feature and recommending next steps to our product manager. I was thrown in headfirst and felt a little overwhelmed, so I called up some of my fellow Boothies to bounce ideas off of in a casual brainstorm. This helped me complete a project outline and eventually led me to successfully conduct my research.
The pay-it-forward culture was the main reason I decided to come to Booth and something I experienced firsthand throughout my time here. I believe that everything starts from within your own circle. If you’re able to help those close to you, and they pay that forward, the chain of positivity moves on. I think about social impact in the same way: if I volunteer—whether with prospective students or with United Way—hopefully I will inspire other people to do so, and eventually the world will become a better place.
I’m hoping to get involved in cleantech, acting as a bridge between consumer voices and the technology companies forming solutions. I’m confident Booth will help me get there. In my first year, I have already learned so much both from the classroom and from my peers. I was surprised by the overwhelming number of opportunities to try different things I’d never touched on before—from FEAD (the Food, Environment, Agribusiness, and Development group), to the Marketing Group, to a fellowship program with Good Food Accelerator where I learned how to do market research. These opportunities enriched my MBA experience. Booth was the biggest risk I’ve taken, but it has paid off.
—As told to Leah Rachel von Essen