MBA Mama Spotlight: Louise Chang of Chicago Booth
Louise is currently a first-year student at Booth pursuing concentrations in Strategic Management and Finance. She is also a member of GPAHP program (Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy). Born and raised in Taiwan, Louise received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from National Taiwan University.
Prior to coming to Chicago Booth, Louise spent the first 3 years of her career as a sales representative in the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson and Johnson in Taiwan and then was promoted and spent another 2 years as product manager. This summer, Louise will be interning at L.E.K. consulting in Shanghai, China. Outside of school, Louise is a proud mother of a one-year-old little boy and two dogs.
We recently profiled Louise and several other Chicago Booth MBA Mamas as part of our feature on Mothers at Booth, a student organization that seeks to enable current student moms and expecting student mothers to achieve academic and professional success by providing strong community support and resources.
This summer, Louise will be interning at L.E.K consulting in Shanghai, China.
I am very excited about this new industry as well as life experience. My son will stay in Taiwan with my parents in law while I am in China because consulting usually has very long hours, and our family all agree this arrangement will be better off for us all in the long run.
We wanted to dive deeper into Louise’s story as she brings a unique perspective as an international MBA Mama who uprooted her family to move halfway across the world for business school. Louise wrote the following guest blog for us — check out our her story!
My decision to study abroad for an MBA surprised every one of my friends. However, for me, an MBA, especially a Booth MBA was somehow destined for me a long, long time ago. Prior to Booth, I used to work in Johnson and Johnson’s pharmaceutical company as a product manager back home in Taiwan. The job was well-paid with a nice and supportive company culture and prospects. However, the idea of breaking the status quo has always occupied my mind because I constantly want to have a broader experience and international perspective (I was born, raised and lived in Taiwan before moving to Chicago). On the other hand, Chicago is like my home away from home. I met my husband, then boyfriend, at the National Taiwan University. After graduation, he went on to pursue his PHd at Northwestern University, which is around 20 miles north of Chicago, while I decided to stay put to establish my career. During the 5-year long-distance relationship, I flew to Chicago so frequently that I even got an airline golden membership, and it was also during this time I learned about the two prestigious business schools nearby, Booth and Kellogg.
I decided to apply to MBA during my fifth year in the company because I felt I had reached a certain degree of competency at that point. At the same time, we were planning our family so my road to holding an MBA and becoming a mother were almost parallel. For example, I took the GMAT test while I was 6-months pregnant, had on-campus interviews during my third trimester, and started my journey at Booth when my son was only six-months old. In retrospect, it was very hard to juggle applications, my job and pregnancy but I received much support from current Booth students regarding the navigation of the application process, career opportunities, as well as resources available to parent students.
My Booth experience and specific situation as an international/mother student so far has opened my eyes by expanding my cultural awareness and empathy. I believe that these will be translated into better communication style with people from all walks of life when it comes to leading in a global business arena.
Being an MBA Mama is really hard, so whoever wants to do this has to be mentally prepared. But, it will be worth it! My main advice for women considering this path is to plan your childcare and try to involve your partner as much as possible during this process. This is a memorable experience and I don’t regret doing my MBA while raising a baby.
In terms of my childcare set-up, many student parents at Booth chose to stay on campus, Hyde Park, or Chicago’s south loop because there are tons of childcare options here. I chose a home-based daycare, which is very close to my apartment. I also share a temporary babysitter with other Booth student moms when I feel like attending evening events. In addition, I am very grateful to have a very involved husband. We split house chores and spend equal time with our son. I personally believe that having an involved partner is the most helpful resource for any career mom. Moreover, Mothers at Booth regularly offers exclusive childcare for moms during the weekend before final exams so we can really concentrate on our academic work.
My rule of thumb for time management is: don’t try to do everything. When I first started my MBA at Booth, like most people, I felt FOMO and was eager to do everything. However, I read a feature article at mbamama.com, saying that even single MBA students, who don’t need to take care of anyone but themselves, can’t make it to every event in their two-year programs, let alone mother MBA students. I felt so relieved after reading that MBA Mama article and decided to stay focused on my goals.
I had enough parties and fun when I was in college, so I want to make the most of my time at Booth to sharpen my business knowledge, propel my career as well as spend quality time with my family. Therefore, I am very disciplined with my schedule. I try to finish school work during the day when I don’t have classes or after my son goes to bed, cook for and have dinner with my family as much as possible and identify the social/professional evening events I would like to partake in well in advance so I can figure out childcare plans.
Looking ahead to the second year of my MBA, I am excited about having a less intense year of business school. I want to spend most of my second year exploring more of the United States with my family and friends. Also, I am excited to co-chair our Mothers at Booth student group. I strongly believe that building a strong bond with mother students and increasing our presence at Booth helps the brand name of Booth and also promotes the importance of gender equality.