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How An MBA Helped Me Pivot My Career To Become A Product Manager At Amazon

Former science teacher Suh Yoon reveals how an MBA helped her switch from managing a classroom to working as a product manager at Amazon

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Mon Oct 16 2023

BusinessBecause
The saying ‘it’s children who teach’ may induce a few eye rolls, but for Suh Yoon it changed the entire trajectory of her career. 

After graduating from a BA in arts in the US, Suh jumped straight into a role with the non-profit Teach For America, where she spent three years teaching science and technology to students from underserved schools. 

She loved teaching and found the job rewarding, but what ultimately struck Suh was her students’ passion for the subject.

“All my students were obsessed with technology,” she says. “I realized I was too, but I felt like I was always a consumer. I wanted to learn more about what it was like to be a creator in that space.” 

Deciding to swap teaching for the tech space, Suh felt the best way to pivot her career was to return to school—but this time, to pursue an MBA. 


Why an MBA? 

a37f4d0db521e999e96d8d2d7457164702dd1d65.jpg To successfully pivot from education to technology, Suh (right) would need to upskill in areas that were desirable to employers in the sector. Her next step was therefore to plunge into the world of coding.

She joined Code Nation, a non-profit set up to teach basic digital skills to kids. There, she directed programs in New York, while also managing the teaching of software development in under-resourced high schools.

But her thirst for knowledge was not yet sated, so she landed a job at an early-stage startup focused on the development of a smart school transportation system, where she got an intimate grasp on what working in a tech company was really like.

After this experience, Suh decided the next step to further establish her place in the world of technology was to gain a formal business education via an MBA. 

While searching for her dream program, she was quickly convinced to pursue the Emory University Goizueta Business School Two-Year MBA—not just because of its status as one of the top 20 programs in the US, but also its highly desirable location.

Situated in the dynamic city of Atlanta, Georgia, Emory University is surrounded by more than 200 of the US’s fastest growing private companies and a thriving technology sector.

“I liked that it was connected to a lot of local tech startups,” she says. 

With a cohort consisting of fewer than 150 students, Emory’s MBA program contains a uniquely small class size compared with other top schools. Suh was impressed by the intimate setting of the course.


What skills did you learn? 

Having only recently been in the business of education herself, one of the major facets of the Full-time MBA at Emory that stood out to Suh was the quality of the teaching. 

“My professors did such a great job making real-world content so accessible and engaging,” she says.

In the first semester, Emory MBA students complete their core courses learning the fundamentals of business and strategic problem solving. 

The curriculum offers more than 90 electives and 20 different concentrations, focusing on specialist areas such as Marketing, Global Management, and Strategy Consulting. 

The second semester then sees students put their skills to the test during the IMPACT module, in which they work as a group with a real-world business client to generate solutions for a key business issue. 

Suh says the project, which saw her team working with the gym-wear giant Lululemon, was the highlight of her experience. 

“I enjoyed making their marketing and their products more accessible and more inclusive to the community on target,” she explains.

Important learnings also came outside the classroom. With a wide variety of things to do at any given time, a crucial skill that Suh picked up on her course was time management.

Fortunately, the close-knit atmosphere fostered at Emory meant that even when the work-life balance could seem overwhelming, there were always staff members available to offer support, she explains. 


How has it helped your career now? 

As part of Emory’s hands-on curriculum, first-year students are required to undertake a summer internship in an industry of their choosing—be it marketing, consulting, or, in Suh’s case, tech.

With application advice from a personal career coach—something all Emory MBAs have access to—she was offered a dream product management placement at Amazon Web Services.

“It was basically a trial run for me and for my team. It was very fast-paced and I learned a lot,” she says. 

A top employer for Emory MBA graduates, Amazon subsequently offered to keep Suh on as a product manager once she graduated. It’s a dynamic role that allows her to incorporate many areas that she’s passionate about, including the more personal aspect of teaching. 

“It's really about being the voice of the customer and figuring out what the customer wants,” she explains. 

Day-to-day, Suh liaises with customers, engineers, and other product managers to identify ways to continually improve Amazon’s service. 

Relying on more than just good communication skills, it’s also a role that requires constant critical thinking. Suh says that she uses the mental frame-working skills she picked up in her MBA to solve problems for a variety of different clients.

Additionally, she can also leverage the strong network she built at Emory to support her when work gets tough. 

“It’s really great to have those relationships coming out of school. When I'm having trouble figuring something out, I'll just reach out to people,” she says. 

With help from the Emory MBA, and a healthy portion of self-belief and determination, Suh has managed to change from making a difference through teaching to benefitting lives by improving product services at one of the world’s largest technology companies. 

“I thought, this is what I really want to do and I'm just going to go for it, even if it means I'll fail,” Suh says. “I would encourage other people to do the same.”

Student Reviews

Emory University Goizueta Business School

Student

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Excellent institution with valuable resources

In general, Emory University is an excellent institution with valuable resources. The majority of the professors I encountered were outstanding and displayed a genuine concern for their students. Furthermore, Atlanta provides a plethora of opportunities and experiences.

Student

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Pleasant weather, campus and professors

Emory enjoys pleasant weather for the most part, with warmth and mild conditions. The only drawback is the spring season, particularly due to the heavy pollen presence. Everything becomes coated in layers of pollen, which can be problematic for allergy sufferers. Fortunately, this pollen season is relatively short-lived. During the spring and fall, the weather can be quite unpredictable, swinging from scorching heat to chilly temperatures. You'll often find students relaxing or studying outdoors on campus with Professors ever ready to attend to students personally.

Student

Verified

30/10/2023

On Campus

Outstanding academics

At Emory, the academics are outstanding! It takes a lot of effort and commitment, but the results are well worth it. Teachers are very approachable and like answering inquiries from students. Nobody ever turning away a student that I know of. The campus is beautiful and tidy at Emory, with many places to relax and study.

Student

Verified

24/10/2023

On Campus

Academic performance surpassed my expectations

Emory University's academic performance surpassed my expectations. Achieving good grades often requires substantial effort, and the academic rigor varies depending on your chosen major. Nevertheless, I encountered highly knowledgeable professors, well-equipped to teach their respective courses. Emory offers a wide range of subject areas to choose from, providing students with diverse academic opportunities.

Student

Verified

24/10/2023

On Campus

Outstanding institution with stunning aesthetics

Emory University is an outstanding institution! The campus boasts stunning aesthetics, the individuals are friendly, and there is an abundance of activities available in the surrounding areas of Atlanta, Georgia. Undoubtedly, my most cherished aspect of Emory was its people. I forged numerous friendships and encountered individuals from diverse backgrounds. Academically, Emory provides a manageable experience. The majority of my professors were excellent, although, as is the case with any university, there may be certain classes or professors that one may not enjoy. Nevertheless, conducting some inquiries and perusing online reviews should provide a fairly accurate insight into what to anticipate in each class.

Student

Verified

23/10/2023

On Campus

Professors skilled in interactive discussions

I take great pleasure in the small class sizes and the professors' skill in creating interactive discussions. The professors demonstrate a strong enthusiasm for their subjects, consistently making the course content fascinating. Moreover, I am captivated by the beautiful campus, and its location is equally appealing.

Student

Verified

23/10/2023

On Campus

Exceptional faculty members

Emory University takes pride in its exceptional faculty members who are highly educated and committed to utilizing innovative and successful teaching techniques.It is widely recognized for its extensive research endeavors, offering students a wide-ranging knowledge foundation that can be readily applied to a variety of academic disciplines.

Student

Verified

25/02/2023

On Campus

Review of Emory university

The Professors are awesome and you get a lot of opportunities to get involved both on and off Campus. The campus is very lovely. The community of people are welcoming, super nice, and entertaining. The dining halls have popular music from throughout the decade playing and the overall atmosphere is super relaxing and enjoyable.

Konya

Verified

3/11/2022

On Campus

Batch'20

Emory is an amazing campus and a school with a nice social scene. I always wanted to see what it was like living in the states and this made it happen. Loving making new friends, acquaintances and some for life bonds as well as learning new subject every week. Emory is a great choice.

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