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EMBA Alumnus Spotlight: Christopher Wang, MBA, Intel 14

Our first spotlight of 2024 features Christopher Wang from Intel 14, the first EMBA cohort to graduate during the pandemic. After earning his MBA, he landed a new role at UC Davis. Below, learn how the Executive MBA benefited him professionally and personally.


Describe your prior role and current role.

In my prior role as chief administrative officer at the Center for Precision Medicine and Data Sciences at UC Davis, I was responsible for managing the department alongside our director, focusing on developing and implementing the vision for the Center. That included handling finance, staff management, and project delegation.


Now I’m the director of research administration for the UC Davis School of Medicine. I report to both the assistant dean and vice dean of research, creating the vision and goals for the unit. I’m also hiring staff to help me align our objectives with the broader goals of the School of Medicine and expectations of the business unit.


How did the Executive MBA help you in your career and in making the switch to your new job?

The EMBA had a big impact on my career trajectory, especially in transitioning to my current job. My director encouraged me to enroll, and I’m glad I did. The program bolstered my leadership skills, decision-making confidence, and project management abilities. I learned that it’s not the quantity of projects you have, but the quality that matters.


It reshaped my approach to staff management – especially with all the different cultures in our office – and introduced me to effective organizational design. That, along with the concurrent pandemic, reinforced the importance of adaptability and of considering various success factors. For example, just because people aren’t in the office doesn’t mean they can’t get their work done; there are many variables in what makes a successful staff member.


The EMBA also equipped me with new project planning tools, like Gantt charts, and strategies for managing challenging conversations and conflicting personalities. I probably wouldn’t have advanced to this level without my EMBA education.


I'm passionate about contributing to the growth and success of research at UC Davis. I get a lot of joy in making a significant impact on the institution and in creating the support network for researchers.


How do you feel about your experience in the EMBA program?

I loved it. Balancing full-time work and family life while attending the program was challenging, but it was very rewarding and thought-provoking. It helped me develop my leadership and strategic planning skills, so I became a lot more confident in my decision making for the Center.


An unexpected bonus is that the program also inspired a new infrastructure initiative I'm leading, which I’m modeling after the MBA's engaging and interactive approach. It’s aimed at developing a centralized shared service unit for grant submissions and a comprehensive training program for research administrators. Currently, new research administrators are just thrown into their roles with no network or knowledge of the process. With this new training, they’ll learn best practices for grant submissions and we are planning on making it in-person, cohort-based, and case-based.


Four years down the road, what stands out about the program?

Making the video in our legal class was fun; we were able to be goofy while learning about complicated subject matter. Courses in leadership and technology were particularly influential, sparking ideas on leveraging technology for the Center. I also really enjoyed getting to know everyone and how they do things in their respective domains. The camaraderie during meals was fun, as was the respectful, safe environment for sharing diverse perspectives, even when I thought I said something dumb.


I loved interacting with people from different professional environments and career levels. It enriched my educational experience and expanded my network and understanding of various professional landscapes, which continues to benefit my work and personal growth.


How did your family support you through the EMBA program?

I couldn’t have done the EMBA without my family’s support, especially from my wife, Barbara. She played a pivotal role by managing the household and ensuring our children's needs were met. We had dinner together every night, and the kids (Tim and Leah) understood that dad needed study time. This teamwork was essential to my success in the program.


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This Spotlight column celebrates Sacramento State Executive MBAs and their successes. Do you or an EMBA grad or current student you know have anything to feature? Any career news? Published books or papers? Awards? A day in the life of (your unique job)? Almost anything goes, as long as it’s professionally or educationally related. Email us at oembacsus@gmail.com. You/they could be featured in our next blog post and newsletter.


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