Who's That Gal: Susan Simone Kang, President of the National Association of Women MBAs in Boston
Talk to us a bit about what you do as Director of Graduate Legal Education and International Programs at Boston College Law School and how you found yourself in that role.
I was a practicing attorney for ten years and am a member of the Bar Associations in New York, Massachusetts but my parents are both immigrants, so I’ve always been drawn to international work. I grew up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood in New York City and was raised to speak two languages, which eventually inspired me to go for a post-doc masters international law at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. I went on to direct this same program.
Now, as the Director of Legal Educational and International Programs at Boston College Law School, I advise students on their grad school options. Many are interested in joint degrees - business/law combinations are especially popular. I help students decide if these ambitious programs are the right fit.
What was your educational journey like? Did you always have a clear idea that you wanted to pursue a law degree?
I actually resisted law school for a long time. Whenever my parents saw that I was good at something, they pressed me to dive all the way in. If you’re good at it, forget everything else and do that. That outlook is common among immigrant communities. I was good at policy and law but I wasn’t ready to fully commit for a while.
I also think it is important to get some practical experience and develop practical life skills between college and grad school.
You’re the president on the National Association of Women MBA’s. Can you tell us more about the organization and why you felt the drive to be involved?
Law and business are intertwined at so many levels, and my career has always been part of both fields. I worked as a corporate transaction lawyer and did a lot of work in private equity. I noticed that the more I advanced in my career, the fewer women I noticed around me. At the same time, I know the value of having women in my network. Once during a hard time in my career, I made a list of people I’d be able to reach out to for advice and guidance, and almost the entire list was made up of women.
I initially got involved with NAWMBA because a friend of mine was the president of the Boston chapter at the time. She recruited me as someone who could expand our network and move projects forward. The organization is truly an enriching experience. It provides an opportunity for networking and community in a business landscape. It is important to stay connected to a broader community outside your workplace. The more diverse your community, the stronger your network. That way you always have People you can call on for formal and informal advice. Some of the relationships I’ve made at NAWMBA are now more than two decades strong!
We LOVE that NAWMBA’s mission is empowering women in business in the Greater Boston Area. Can you talk about some ways the group goes about empowering women and any major developments you’ve seen since being a member?
The central focus of the organization is to provide an instant network to women that are graduating and entering the business community. Plus, since the organization is nationwide, it is a great resource for women moving to a new city. NAWMBA helps members diversify contacts and grow their network while also providing career development opportunities like trainings. workshops, negotiation classes and more. Students students find value as members too since we edit cover letters, review resumes, and set up mock interviews!
In what areas could Boston use improvement in empowering women?
This, of course, is an ongoing conversation. We need a creative, solution-oriented corporate America with flexible work hours so that women can balance work and life. Of course, these same benefits should be extended to men, but I am acutely aware that we lag far behind other developed nations in keeping women employed. Bottom line, we need to retain women in the workforce after spending so much time and money training them. This will need change at both the nationwide and state level. Companies also have the power to take leadership in this area, and I look forward to seeing successful, progressive businesses making changes.
What advice do you have for someone thinking about attending graduate school?
Really know yourself before applying to a graduate program. Ask yourself what is motivating you. How will that degree advance your career? Why did you choose that career? You need to be real with yourself about what is motivating you. Your choices at this juncture might span a few years or a lifetime so be conscious. Having a college degree alone does not guarantee success in a career, so many people feel that they need to go to grad school, but it is imperative think about why and what the tradeoffs may be. You may not end up doing what you started, which is ok, as long as you’re passionate. Success comes from passion!
What’s next for you?
I don’t know what is coming next but I want to be aware of the world around me and see opportunities!