MBA Corner with Kelly Ling

Kelly Ling is a Haas MBA and associate at RelayHealth. She crowdfunded a loan to cover expenses for that bridge period between finishing her MBA and starting her full-time job. We got to catch up with Kelly to discuss her time at Haas, how she broke into healthcare, and her experience using WeFinance.

MBA Corner with WeFinance is a regular series that looks at alumni, their experiences, and what they’ve learned.

Are you looking to raise money for trips, treks, or living expenses during your MBA? WeFinance is the fastest way to crowdfund a personal loan.

What were you doing before you went to Haas for your MBA?

After graduating from Berkeley, I spent 2 years in Audit at Deloitte and 2 years as a Financial Analyst for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

You headed to RelayHealth after your MBA. What drove your passion for healthcare tech?

I am excited by the role technology plays in advancing society and increasing quality of life for everyone — from information at your fingertips, to keeping in touch with friends and family.

Healthcare is an industry that seems to be left behind as other technologies bring society closer to the future — there’s a huge opportunity for growth as technology makes healthcare more modern and accessible.

Was it hard to adapt to the different cultures? Deloitte, Ghirardelli, Microsoft, and RelayHealth sound like they have very different cultures.

Honestly, I didn’t find it too difficult to adapt to the different cultures.

Yes, the cultures are extremely different, but I enjoy variety. There are things that big companies do better — there are things that small companies do better — it’s what you make of the experience.

What advice would you give to MBA students with finance backgrounds, who are interested in moving into technology?

Any industry needs talent with a finance background, so there’s no shortage of opportunity.

Generally, it’s easier switching industries if you’re staying in the same job function (i.e., FP&A). If you’re looking to switch functions, try to stay in the same industry. As a subject matter expert, it’s easier switching functions.

You’ve had the chance to work in a variety of different sectors and company types. What are the biggest challenges?

One challenge is articulating my professional story and connecting the dots from each of my experiences in a way that makes sense to people — especially during interviews.

Accounting to chocolate, to tech, to healthcare, may seem odd on a resume, but it all depends on how you paint it.

The way I’ve painted the picture: accounting leading to a financial analyst role within a food and beverage company, leading to an MBA. During the MBA, I explored how technology can impact society while interning at Microsoft. This led to a full-time role with a healthcare tech company.

What tips — life, professional, or anything else — would you give to incoming Haas students?

My biggest tip would be to have an open mind.

This opens up tons of opportunities that you may have never considered. These opportunities can be the most fulfilling, and provide the most learning experiences. That is actually how I’d say I started at Ghirardelli and RelayHealth, which have both been life-changing experiences.

Do you think there are any big personal financial mistakes MBA students make during the program?

Understanding the true relative cost of an MBA.

Many former MBAs will give advice around the upsides of spending money to go on the trips, treks, and adventures that are a big part of the MBA experience; with the notion that that student loans will get paid off quickly. The reality is that tuition and other costs are climbing every year. The financial burden and long-term implications of spending now is more significant than it was to our MBA counterparts from 5, 10, or 15 years ago.

What do you look for when you consider financial products?

Two things: trustworthiness and transparency.

What was your experience with WeFinance? How did it compare with other services you’ve used in the past?

I was fortunate enough to borrow from my parents for the majority of school experience.

Because my full-time job didn’t start until the end of the summer after graduation and my funds were running low, I could either get a bridge loan from my parents, or borrow on WeFinance (at a similar interest rate). I found WeFinance to be more empowering than borrowing from my parents, and the process was so frictionless.

If I was stuck between a bank and my parents, I would obviously have gone to my parents. Since WeFinance exists, it’s the best option available.

Do you think people with finance experience before their MBA are less likely to make financial mistakes?

Not necessarily. There are a lot of differences between understanding corporate finance or the financial markets, and personal finance.

Personal finance is more about self-control and budgeting.

Do you think you would ever use WeFinance in the future? For trips, mortgage, or something else?

Definitely, but I’m not sure for what yet!

Do you see yourself lending on the platform in the future? Only to your network? To Haas students? Friends of friends?

Yes, of course! I would lend to my network and extended network, assuming the default risk is low.