Expert advice for new MBA grads from a top CEO and Columbia alumna

So, you’ve got your MBA, now what? If you need a bit of career guidance, we’ve got just the expert. CEO and Founder of Tupelo Capital Management Lulu C. Wang offered her advice for new MBA grads entering a world of uncertainty.

In short

Four pieces of advice from business guru Lulu C. Wang

  1. Be positive about the situation you find yourself in.
  2. Don’t follow the status quo.
  3. Look for internships and jobs that align with your values.
  4. Be an active investor.

Lulu Chow Wang’s CV reads like a wishlist for MBA graduates everywhere. As the current CEO and Founder of Tupelo Capital Management, her influence on the world of business spreads far and wide. She has held management positions in a vast array of hedge funds and sits on the board of institutions as diverse as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockefeller University, the Asia Society, and Columbia Business School, her alma mater. 

Wang earned her MBA from Columbia Business School and has maintained a close relationship with the school. Her authority has been recognized by the school’s Chazen Institute for Global Business, which made her a member in 2006. Now in the position of Chair, she leads the institute as it looks at ways to capitalize on the constantly changing opportunities and challenges of the global economy. 

Obviously, Lulu knows what she’s talking about when it comes to business. We’re delighted to hear her advice for new MBA grads in the current climate.

1. Be positive about the situation you find yourself in

If you’ve been paying even a small amount of attention to the news over the past few years, it’s easy to feel despondent. With pandemics, wars, climate change, and political division all having a detrimental effect on the economy, there’s little room for hope. However, Lulu’s advice for new MBA grads is to change our perspective: “I think the most important thing is to not think of the current, very adverse environment as being a setback.” (00:00)

A negative look at how things could turn out is eminently unhelpful. What’s more, it has historically always been those looking for opportunity who find it. Therefore, as you begin your career, be sure to equip yourself with tools and techniques to have a positive outlook on life. Whether it is expressing gratitude, meditating, or surrounding yourself with optimistic people, your personal positivity makes professional success more likely.

2. Don’t follow the status quo

It’s important to take a more idealistic view of your career trajectory. Without being unrealistic, leaders of the future should strive to improve the world we’re living in, as opposed to maintaining traditional ways of seeing things. 

Why is this so crucial? As Lulu explains, “The world cannot go on like this. The divisions that we see – the inequities, the hostilities between countries – this cannot stand.” (00:53)

As the saying goes, crisis leads to opportunities. Therefore, as certain sectors are on their knees, they are ripe for being rebuilt in more ethical, equitable ways. This piece of advice for new MBA grads is especially attractive to those whose main motivation for getting into business is to make positive change. 

With such fast-paced change, it’s almost impossible to predict how the world will look in the future. It’s up to leaders to shape it in their vision. Lulu has an optimistic perspective. “This is a very exciting time for young people and even old people like us to look for where the future trends will be,” she states. (01:05)

3. Look for internships and jobs that align with your values

Since Lulu graduated from Columbia, the perception of what a job means to people has changed drastically. Throughout the 20th century, it was something that you should be thankful for and work desperately hard to keep. However, workers are now more concerned with whether jobs match their values.

This is only becoming more prominent as younger generations make up an increasingly large section of the job market. According to a Deloitte study, Gen Z workers value salaries less than all other generations. At the same time, as the financial incentive is declining, the importance of company values is increasing. Without a commitment to societal problems such as sustainability, climate change, and equality, young workers are more likely to jump ship.

Lulu’s advice for new MBA grads mirrors the same sentiment. She says, “As a young person looking for a company that you would like to work with, make sure you understand what their values are because then you can align yourself with them and throw yourself in body and soul.” (01:45)

4. Be an active investor

As an MBA student, you’ll already be aware of the world of investing. After you graduate, it may soon become one of your main sources of income, as well as a way of promoting causes that are important to you. However, this doesn’t mean putting some money in an index tracker and leaving it until your retirement. As Lulu puts it in her advice for new MBA grads, “I think the active investor is going to be rewarded.” (02:19)

But, what exactly is active investment?

Active investors are those who are constantly on the lookout for change and who try to stay one step ahead. While there is no magic formula to being successful, keeping up to date on current affairs is a great place to start. 

As an example, plant-based food supplier Beyond Meat rose 163% after its 2019 IPO. Similarly, the legalization of cannabis in Canada and beyond led to a flourishing of new opportunities that have performed extremely well since their arrival. Spotting this kind of potential is the best way of staying ahead of the game.

As a further piece of advice, Lulu adds, “With the opportunities setting up winners and losers, long-short strategies are good…looking for the great winners that come out of this crisis is going to be a lot of fun and very rewarding.” (02:30)

Lulu’s vision of the future

With such disruptive forces at work, it’s anybody’s guess what the next couple of decades has in store for us. However, as a final word, Lulu shares what she hopes to see in the future: “I hope we are going to be a society that is more focused on values.” (01:40)

Whether you’re interested in working in consulting, finance, tech, or another dynamic industry, get in touch with MBA students and graduates to get a better idea of the career opportunities that await you post-graduation.
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