A Conversation with Minerva Graduate Student Jinkyo

Dec 18, 2021

This is part of a series of profiles introducing Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis (MDA) students from the Class of 2023. If you would like to learn more about the MDA program, please visit minerva.edu/graduate-programs.

As the co-founder and Director of Startup Ecosystem Development at Next Challenge Foundation, a non-profit accelerator in South Korea, Jinkyo Choi understands the importance of effective collaboration and decisive decision-making. With both her own employees as well as the startup entrepreneurs she mentors, the ability to work well with others and to make tough choices are often the key characteristics between success and failure. One piece of advice she offers is, “When you work in an organization, you need to work as a team and show your best performance. No matter how talented you are as an individual, it is not helpful to the group if you can’t work with others.”

However, this practice is not as easily done as said, especially when you know your colleagues personally. For example, when Next Challenge grew from six employees to 15, Jinkyo noticed difficulties began to arise between team members, many of whom were her friends and former university classmates. She began to examine the team dynamics and realized that some members were not working well with others, which affected the entire company. Faced with this challenge, she made the tough realization to let go of those who were struggling to collaborate with other employees in order for the company to succeed. While it was difficult, Jinkyo knew that teamwork was critical to success, and knew she would continue to need to make critical decisions as Next Challenge grew.

Jinkyo began to look for graduate programs that would help her grow as a leader but found many institutions in South Korea to be too traditional. “The professors are not necessarily experienced in startups, and instead focus more on academics and theory. However…textbooks don’t always apply directly to the real world,” she explains. When she learned about Minerva’s Master of Decision Analysis, she was immediately intrigued by the curriculum, which focused on teaching foundational concepts and transferable skills that could be applied to students’ specific industries. Minerva’s flipped classroom model and active learning pedagogy, facilitated by the Forum learning platform, also stood out as she found traditional lectures to be ineffective and impractical. Rather than memorize exact scenarios and static facts, Jinkyo believes Minerva’s curriculum will help her become a better leader as she often needs to make quick decisions that are each unique and complex.

Now, as a member of the MDA Class of 2023, Jinkyo has been able to experience the benefits of active learning education herself and is already applying her knowledge in her job. For example, New Challenge launched a new startup program in Korea to condense the startup acceleration process into a systematic four-year curriculum. After her first semester, Jinkyo feels better prepared to make crucial decisions about this large project and has applied principles of the science of learning to the start-up program’s structure. She is excited to share these insights with her classmates and colleagues and looks forward to learning even more as an MDA student.