Class Acts: Minjy Koo

Olin MBA student dreams of creating pathways for women to re-enter workforce

Minjy Koo, a champion for gender equality in the workplace, is set to earn her master's degree in business administration from Olin Business School in May. (Courtesy photo)

Minjy Koo is proof that empowered women empower women. The soon-to-be graduate of Olin Business School’s MBA program came to Washington University in St. Louis with the goal of one day creating a platform to help women re-enter the workforce after stepping away to care for family, among other reasons, by connecting them with industry-specific mentors.

Driven by her passion to improve gender inequality in the workforce, Koo has embraced opportunities to build upon these values over the last two years. She formed a strong network of Olin alumni and peers and joined the Olin Women in Business club. Koo also enrolled in an entrepreneurship class, where she worked with faculty members to further develop her business plan.

“Interacting with other prominent women within the Olin Women in Business club and learning how to approach vulnerability shaped the kind of leader I want to be in the future,” Koo said.

“The book club discussions also further expanded my views on feminism from a western standpoint. Altogether, these experiences assured me to keep pursuing my life’s mission to create a platform that helps women within the workforce.”

Koo already was building a successful marketing career before coming to Olin. At Groupe SEB — a large French consortium that produces small appliances and cookware, including All-Clad and T-fal — Koo was the youngest employee promoted to junior product manager in company history. Under Koo’s leadership, category sales increased by 52% compared to the prior year.

But Koo had long dreamed of earning an MBA and, after careful consideration, knew the time was right to take this next step in her career.

“I pursued WashU Olin because of the culture, diverse cohort and global immersion program,” Koo said. “Being an international student, I made it an absolute priority to choose an MBA program that fostered a supportive and collaborative environment where students could develop and grow together.

“The faculty and staff have been supportive at every step of my journey. The small classroom sizes here at Olin allow for open discussions between the students and faculty, allowing me to thrive and build upon my values.”

Those relationships were even more important as the COVID-19 pandemic upended traditional classroom experiences.

“Despite limited social gatherings and half my classmates attending class remotely, Olin did an outstanding job in creating a seamless learning experience for our class,” Koo said. “I was very fortunate to have made some wonderful friendships here and lean on each other when rough days were among us. It’s an experience I will never forget.”

Koo says there was one unexpected benefit to pursuing her MBA during a global pandemic: Going remote put her in a better position in terms of recruiting.

“Since almost all companies had to resort to recruiting virtually, I had no geographical limit. Usually, certain companies tend to network at specific core schools, but the pandemic unlocked these opportunities for everyone. I quickly learned how to navigate and stand out in the virtual world.”

Following graduation, Koo will work at Visa Inc. as a product marketing manager, focusing on creating marketing strategies, positionings and value propositions for global payment-processing solutions. 

As she takes this next step in her career, Koo said her dream of launching a career platform will have to wait until she can devote the necessary energy and time to it. However, networking and mentoring remain her passions. She plans to get involved with Lean In, a global women-empowering community, where she can advocate and bring more talented and deserving women into the workforce. She also hopes to serve as a mentor for future Olin students so she can help them have the same positive experience at WashU.

“Looking back over the past two years, I am very proud of myself for having attended Olin,” Koo said. “I strongly believe that my MBA experience at Olin has equipped me with the skills I need to achieve my goal of building a platform that will benefit all women.”

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