Prospective MBA Student: Interview with Jinho Lee

Prospective MBA student, Jinho Lee

TopMBA.com talks to Jinho Lee, a Korean stockbroker, about his decision to do an MBA , his thoughts on starting at the Wharton School and his career aspirations. 

For the last four and a half years, Jinho Lee has been a stockbroker in the Korean equity market. He's now preparing to study for his MBA at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Jinho spoke to TopMBA.com about the qualification he hopes is going to take his career to the next level.

What prompted you to apply for business school?

Working as a stockbroker on the Korean equity market for the last four and a half years, in particular JP Morgan and Hyundai Securities, my exposure has been skewed to domestic institutional investors. Current market understanding of the client base has put international clients ahead of domestic ones and related market regulation has set a clear segregation between these two groups.

The changes that I have witnessed over this time have been critical. The Capital Market Consolidation Act which is about to take effect in 2009, along with the official opening of the Korea Hedge Fund Market in the same year, the upgraded profile of domestic clients with developing Korea market status in Pan Asian region and the continuous change in the composition of international institutions has generated a demand for skillful hybrid sales. Hybrid sales are sales that provide additional value added for both domestic and international investors, as well as for investors with an integrated concept of both domains.

In order to prepare for hybrid sales business, I must further sharpen my finance expertise including more in-depth investment product understanding, since hybrid sales will require more diverse products to be traded across borders.  I also need solid management training to hone leadership that will enable me to establish and head a hybrid sales business in the future.  Moreover, I must enrich my global exposure, knowing that understanding cultural diversity is essential in this business.  Naturally, I have concluded that now is the best time to attend an MBA program to prepare for this.

How well do your think the MBA is regarded in your home country?

I would confidently say that the MBA is highly regarded in Korean society. Korea has been one of the fastest growing economies and it has gone through very drastic transformations since the Korean War. Along the path to becoming a developed country, Korea has been willing to absorb global insights, especially during the period of financial crisis. Although it is true that we Koreans have experienced priceless lessons through trial and error, it is still true that global leadership-oriented drive has taken a significant part in the lessons. On this front, global MBA graduates have greatly contributed to meaningful growth of Korea in many aspects.

From now on, I am sure that a demand for global MBAs will escalate and many more candidates will try to get into global MBA programs.

How did you start the ball rolling?

Since I graduated from college in 2003, I have been thinking of studying for a top MBA. The past five years of my work experience have been well planned and executed. To be more specific, I was preparing for my MBA during my college period, which was reflected in my GPA (4.20 / 4.50) and my many extra curricular activities. To pinpoint a certain moment to start preparing for an MBA doesn't make sense in my view. Rather, preparation for an MBA is to be regarded as a quasi-lifelong path to follow as one grows.

How did you get through the GMAT?

The GMAT has been one of the toughest parts. To be honest, it took me more than a year to prepare, making me take more than five exams. However, it would not have taken me this long had I known what the GMAT requires. It may not sound very unique or special, but I would like to say that to get through it in a short period, a great deal of selfless effort is required in reading - a lot of reading - especially reading of a variety topics should be conducted no matter what. Also, constant practice of math problems should be made on a daily basis, as GMAT measures how well we think and analyze in numerous areas.

How did you choose which schools to apply to, what where your main criteria?

It took me more than a year to find the "right fit" of an MBA program for me. Rankings that we can see in many media were one of the factors I considered. The more time candidates spend in researching the right programs, the more time they can save by not wasting time and effort in applying for "wrong" programs.

For me, a strong finance program and great people including graduates to network with were my top priority criteria. Of course, I had to consider the culture of the program as I would be the one that would experience that culture with expensive costs. In overall perspectives, Wharton was my top priority and luckily I got to be a part of the pool Wharton selected.

What were the applications results? How did you decide which offer to accept?

To be honest, the results of applications were 200% satisfactory in my view. Although I wasn't selected by a couple of other programs, my top choice, Wharton, has given me an opportunity to fulfil my plans during and after the MBA. I was "wait-listed" by Chicago GSB but this wasn't an issue for me to consider back then, as my lengthy preparation for an MBA turned out to be a "fit" for Wharton.

Now, I recollect how sensitively I reacted to every single day's tension during the period of application, interviews and waiting for a final decision. I would not have been stressed out had I known this simple truth. There is always a right fit. The only problem is that we do not make the effort to assess who we are and what we want. Also we do not spend many hours in researching programs. What we tend to do is want good results without completing preliminary actions.

To find the right fit for you and to start a personalized ranking of business schools, according to your own criteria, register for free at QS business school search engine

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