A childhood in the United States, an adolescence in South Korea, a semester abroad in China, and a career launch in Dearborn, Michigan – by any measure, Jay Khil is a woman with an international perspective that comes from her core.
“The China experience?” Jay explains, “At the time, it had nothing to do with China being the next business leader. It started because I liked Chinese music and pop stars. And if you want to learn the language, it’s best to go to the country itself.”
With a [comparable?] appetite for the hands-on, Jay began her business career at Ford because she “wanted to work for a company that makes tangible, physical products.” For a year and a half she worked on Product Development Finance, then she moved into auditing, a role that allowed her to travel throughout North America. “But I wanted to go overseas again,” Jay says, “and it’s difficult for people my age to get international assignments – that’s what encouraged me to think about business school as a way to move up and prepare for a international career.”
Forced to expand horizons
HBS has challenged Jay to move beyond her habits. “Coming from a big car company, I had to adjust from an ‘eight to six’ mindset to the busy world of HBS,” Jay says. “There’s so much to do and so many people to meet. You have to learn time management skills and how to prioritize.”
Jay could not rest on her international laurels either. “In FIELD 2, it’s great that they require you to work in countries you have not been to before.” Jay’s project took her to Istanbul where her team helped a nonprofit, Young Guru Academy, to develop an online leadership platform for middle-school students in Turkey. While Jay’s week abroad was spent advising the Academy on its online platform, her work is not finished: she’s helping them prepare for a visit next September that will bring 20 students to Boston. “We’re coordinating with Harvard to give them the best possible experience,” Jay says.
Before coming to HBS, Jay was sure she wanted to continue her career in Korea. “Now I’m not sure,” she says. “I’m thinking about Korea or the Bay Area, in consumer products or technology. That’s what’s so great about HBS: it gives you the opportunity to consider different options.”