Pengling Henry Yang- Johnson (Cornell University)
Name: Pengling Henry Yang
Hometown: Houston, TX
Education: (undergrad): University of Texas at Austin (Major – Business Administration, Master – Professional Accounting)
Current MBA program: Johnson Graduate School of Management | Cornell University
Describe a typical day as a MBA student:
When I was a first year at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, I would typically have two classes that day. In between classes I would have an informational with a 2nd year or an alumni to learn about their internship or FT job at X company. In the afternoon, I would attend a professional club meeting, then attend an informational session with one of the companies recruiting on-campus in the evening. Then I would work on homework/readings when I get home.
Which industry did you work within before business school and what was your role there?
I worked in the public accounting space, specifically tax. I was a tax consultant at a Big 4 accounting firm and focused on specialized tax calculations around R&D and capital expenditures. On the side, I ran the corporate social responsibility program at my office around providing the tools to underserved, first generation students to apply to and success in college.
What do you feel are the most important factors when choosing a business school?
I believe there are to two major factors when considering business schools: (1) future career prospects and (2) your impact to the community (business school, the university, or the city). The reason you want to go to business school is to either develop business skills to accelerate further in your current career path or to change paths. Thus, does the school provide all the resources you need to succeed in that vision. Ex-accountant interested in tech? See if the classes offers allow you to dive right in. Find out which companies consider the school a core school for their recruiting efforts (e.g. on-campus). Look to see which companies alumni are at. As for impact, likely you are doing a two-year residential program, which is long but also feels very short (at least to me!). Where will you make the biggest impact? Which school environment will provide the most intellectual stimulation and keep you engaged? Where can your unique set of experiences go the furthest in helping others?
What was your biggest challenge in the MBA application process and why?
The biggest challenge was “doing the work” when it came to learning about the school. I spoke to at least 10 alumni per school (this is helpful in the essays, seriously). If you don’t have that acquaintance in the program already, getting that first person is hard. But once you get connected, it becomes easier to talk to student/alumni #2-10.
What is/was the most enjoyable part about business school?
The diversity. I majored in business in undegrad. At that point of your life, everyone roughly has the same experience. When you go to business school as a grad student, your classmates are veterans, travel agents, salesmen, entrepreneurs, fellow accountants, etc. When you get to know them at a deeper levels, you get a glimpse of all the other vocations that are available. Then add in those who come from abroad, their experiences opened my eyes even more so.
What is/was the hardest part of business school?
Time management. 24 hours isn’t enough time in a day to get all the things you want to do. Then even if there is enough time, there unquestionably time-conflicts. Should I go to this company briefing, or talk to an alumni that can only talk at this time? Attend an attendance-mandatory (but interesting) class or attend a club meeting with an equally-interesting guest speaker? These are a SMALL number of decisions you will need to make weekly. Then don’t get me started if you are married, have kids, or just plan on dating. It’s all about your priorities!
Where will you be working after graduation?
Still figuring it out. My internship company (very large tech company) moved at too slow a pace. My number one goal: never be complacent. You can’t really do another MBA.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career or at your school?
With the CSR program I mentioned I managed pre-MBA, we were able to provide our students with laptops as their graduation gift and provided $18,000 in scholarships for 7 students. In the last year I was in the program, I’m proud to have engaged 64 fellow employees and 69 students.
Fun fact about yourself:
I am a big foodie. Over winter break of first year, I worked (on a volunteer basis) as a host at a two Michelin star restaurant in NYC. I got the opportunity by reaching out to almost every Michelin restaurant, of which only two replied back, including an alumni of the Cornell hotel school, which led to my unofficial internship!