Pam Chan
Home Region

Manila, Philippines

Undergrad Education

Ateneo De Manila University, Management/Operations, 2012

Previous Experience

Google, Facebook, Asian Institute of Management, Procter & Gamble

HBS Activities

Digital Initiative Student Advisory Board

“HBS doesn’t box you into one direction.”

Pam Chan began her career in consumer products, starting with one of the biggest CPG companies in the world, Procter and Gamble. "In school, I knew I wanted to be a marketer involved in brand management and product design," she says.

She got her wish. Pam talked to consumers throughout Southeast Asia to gather input, and worked on a five-year innovation map for laundry detergent. But after three years with P&G, "I got interested in tech – it was an area that would still be relevant in the next few years. So I swapped sides of the table with the digital partner."

Pam eventually landed at Facebook, becoming the first employee in its Philippine office. "It was nothing like a comfy tech campus," she says. "It was more like a little startup within a massive company. I began with an empty room. I put the posters on the walls; I set up the printers." Her role: advertising sales for Southeast Asia. "All companies say they want to be transformed digitally," Pam observes, "but most are struggling. It makes sense to start with digital advertising and marketing to meet customers where they are."

Turning personal desire into greater professional opportunity

A believer in the "cycle of learning," Pam doesn't see progress as a necessarily¬ linear path. "Our careers are more like a jungle gym than a ladder – you're always on your toes. We learn and do, then learn and do again. We're too young to be comfortable."

An MBA seemed a natural step on the cycle. "I'm used to marketing and managing regional offices," Pam says. "Now I want to do upstream work at higher levels."

HBS wasn't even on her original list of MBA options. She had already applied to three schools when her mother insisted that she "at least check out the application process. I sat in on an entrepreneurship class at HBS. The case replicated experiences I had with a client – I realized cases spoke to real-life experiences I could recognize."

After nearly a year in school, Pam's appreciation for case study has deepened. "I had studied management as an undergraduate," she says, "but it's so interesting to learn the same content in a different way. For example, I had studied operations before – but it was very theoretical. At HBS, it's in a story format, so it's much stickier. I may not remember the concept, but I'll remember the story. This kind of experience educates you much faster – and the entire school is dedicated to this method."

Eventually, Pam aspires to return to Southeast Asia for a career in technology. She's confident, however, that she'll be prepared for any twist and turn that opens before her. "HBS doesn't box you into one direction," she concludes. "It supports a ton of diverse interests and potential opportunities. Careers are part making it happen and part letting it happen."