Q&A with Victoria Nguyen, BC MBA ’16

Victoria Nguyen, BC MBA ’16, moved to Boston from California in search of a new environment and a top-tier business school with Jesuit values. She found all that and more at the Boston College Carroll School of Management.

Why an MBA? 

After college I worked in the healthy living and healthcare industries—two years for a lifestyle brand, four years as a social services coordinator, and eventually the director of patient admissions for a healthcare facility that specialized in skilled nursing and sub-acute rehabilitation. I oversaw patient intake operations, marketing, and critical clinical placement assessments, and drove daily business decisions. I was passionate about working in healthcare and loved the direct interaction I had with patients and their families, but I reached a point where I couldn’t grow any further in my career in that setting, and wanted to broaden my skillset. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do next, but I really enjoyed and excelled at the business aspect of what I was doing, and I knew that an MBA would give me a broad range of options.

How did you choose Boston College?

For one thing, I was looking for a Jesuit institution that was also top tier. I did my undergraduate work at a Jesuit school, Loyola Marymount University, and I really appreciated the Jesuit focus on development of the whole person. I wanted to be in an environment where I could nurture other aspects of my life in graduate school as well.

Also, I’m originally from Southern California, and I saw business school as an opportunity to experience someplace completely different—someplace that had seasons and a whole new environment. I’d heard great things about the city of Boston, so I took a leap of faith and moved here.

How has your MBA experience played out?

When I came in, I was daunted by the idea of an MBA. I majored in political science and French at a liberal arts college, and I knew that an MBA program would have a different atmosphere. I’d heard that business school can be very competitive, but BC drew me in because of its small class size, its focus on a sense of community, and integration of community service into the curriculum. At BC, it’s not about making sure you’re number one; it’s about helping each other make it to the top—together.

What about the faculty?

The professors here are a huge asset. They get to know us as students and as individuals, getting to know our strengths and career interests. They publish their work in top publications and are well known, respected, and well connected in the business community. In addition, faculty have always been more than willing to chat with me with regard to classwork, career advisement, or even to simply bounce ideas off them.

What role does BC’s Jesuit identity play in your MBA experience?

The curriculum at BC not only builds strong analytical skills, but also puts a significant focus on core values and soft skills, preparing students to be the kind of leader that a team can relate to and trust. With those soft skills, you’re better able to understand different personality traits and rally people together. One of the key takeaways that I’ve gotten from the BC MBA is that as business professionals, we are not just focused on the bottom line; we create community and make business decisions that contribute to a greater good.

Are you involved in any student activities?

Yes. I’ve always been inclined to take part in student governments and it was important to me to keep my leadership skills sharp, so I joined the Graduate Management Association (GMA). It has been a great way to get to know my classmates better, and I get a great sense of fulfillment from listening to the diverse needs of my classmates and creating initiatives that seek to continually improve our program. I am not the type of person who can idly stand by—I want to continually make an impact and ensure that the GMA’s professional and social programming continues to benefit students and the overall program. As the vice president of student organizations, it has been absolutely rewarding overseeing all of the hard work the club presidents produce to continually up the ante in programming, speakers, and companies they bring to campus for our classmates.

How have you benefited from BC’s location?

Boston is a hub of intellect and innovation, so it attracts really great conferences with high-caliber speakers and workshops. Some of the highlights include ProductCamp Boston, an entirely volunteer-run event that calls itself the “unconference”; fun and innovative events such as Boston TechJam, which features pitch competitions and product testings; and NewCo Boston, which takes you across the city to various company headquarters and offices to get an in-depth feel for what an organization is about. Through these opportunities, I’ve not only been able to meet and hear from some great movers and shakers in companies I admire, but also have been able to build really interesting connections, all of which are right at my fingertips being in Boston.

I’ve also attended large-scale events led by BC. For instance, recently I attended a CEO luncheon run by the Boston College Chief Executives Club. It was hosted by Laura Sen, the chairwoman of BJ’s Wholesale Club, and there were over 200 executives from Fortune 500 companies, along with a handful of carefully selected BC students. The CEO of Target, Brian Cornell, was the keynote speaker. It was a great learning experience to see how these high-level executives network and learn from each other’s perspectives.

How did BC help you prepare for your career?

I’ve developed a strong relationship with my career advisor. I always let her know immediately when something is on the horizon so she can connect me with people at that company to help me prepare for the interview. And whenever she hears from a BC alum with a job or internship opportunity that she thinks might interest me given my strengths, goals, and experience, she immediately reaches out. In fact, the Office of Career Development helped connect me with a summer internship in marketing for a start-up-sized local tech firm, which aligned well with my areas of concentrations of product and brand management and business analytics. I really enjoyed spending the summer in Boston and leveraging the multitude of networking opportunities available, and I learned a lot about digital strategies, branding, and what it’s like to work in a thriving start-up environment.