Tesla, Inc. was founded in 2003 by a group of engineers looking to prove that electric vehicles could be better, quicker and more fun that their gas-powered counterparts. The company strives to rid the world of fossil-fuel vehicles to work towards achieving a zero-emission future. Tesla’s steadfast mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy is what attracted Jia Huang, Cornell MBA ‘20, to the company.
His business degree from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell provided him with the perfect combination of communication and business strategy classes to help him be successful in his role as a Business Operations & Finance Associate at Tesla.
Read more about how his time at Cornell helped Jia Huang capitalize on his technical background in this edition of Real Humans: Alumni.
Jia Huang, Cornell Johnson MBA ‘20, Business Operations & Finance Associate at Tesla
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Toronto: Mechanical Engineering
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Cornell University, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management Class of 2019: Digital Technology Immersion
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 4 years, engineering; 1 year, pharmaceuticals; 3 years, automotive
Why did you choose to attend business school? I once worked on a hybrid drone startup idea with an MBA student. I really liked his unique way of thinking. He made me realize the importance of finding the right market and having a convincing business strategy, which goes together with knowing the technical aspects of the product. This experience was a major motivating factor for me to attend business school. Shout-out to Julien, if you’re reading this, thank you!
Why Cornell Johnson? Which factors influenced your decision? Two factors influenced my decision: the campus and the people. The Cornell campus is beautiful; it’s as if you are studying in Harry Potter land. Everyone here is friendly and upbeat. When I first visited the campus for a meet and greet, the admission staff personally called me prior to the event to check up on me and made sure all my questions were answered. To me, you’ll get as much out of the MBA as the amount of effort you put in it. Studying in a beautiful campus surrounded by friendly staff and colleagues gave me the motivation to work hard and to get the most out of my MBA experience.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice? I interned at Tesla during the summer of 2019 in the Business Operations and Finance team. I have a passion for the automotive and mobility fields (aka auto-tech). So, when I got to Cornell Johnson, I told myself to “go big or go home”. I was so happy when I got the internship offer from Tesla. It was my dream company to work for and I accepted it in a heartbeat.
Why did you choose to work for your current company? Which factors influenced your decision? I had an awesome internship experience at Tesla. Not only is everyone highly motivated and creative, but they are also all driven by Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Working here makes me feel like I’m making the world a better place.
How did your MBA experience prepare you for your current career? The combination of communication and business strategy classes allowed me to leverage my technical background to influence others at work. Learning and practicing the various ways to solve casing style interviews helped me to communicate in a clear and concise manner, which is helpful for both my career and everyday life.
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans? COVID has greatly impacted the automotive and mobility sectors. Looking at the various sub-sectors, I think overall it has been positive for e-commerce (buying cars online), positive for logistics and delivery services, negative for ridesharing, and slightly negative for overall car sales. There has also been a lot of interest from investors on electric vehicles in the past year, which seem to be undeterred by the pandemic. I think people realize the disruptive potential within auto-tech and are looking ahead long-term and putting down their money to own a piece of it.
What advice would you give to a current MBA student? Practice your storytelling. Everyone will come from a different background in your MBA program, so knowing how to share your experiences in a way that everyone can understand and relate to will come in handy for both networking and recruiting.
What do you wish you would have known? Explore and take classes outside the business school. I wish I had had the time to take the renowned wine class at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.
Is there anything you would have done differently? Take advantage of Treks abroad! I’ve heard so many great things from my friends after they’ve gone on international treks.
Learn about more business school alumni like Jia Huang by exploring our Real Humans: Alumni series.
To see what current students from Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management are up to, visit their Real Humans: Students profiles.