Man-Su (Norelle) Chiang recently joined the Master of Supply Chain Management after almost seven years working at multinationals in Taiwan. She graduated from the National Taipei University in 2014 and has since worked at Far Eastern Group, IBM and Nielson.
In the last week of September, Man-Su (Norelle) Chiang was putting plates on the table as she prepared for a cooking competition with the Asian community in the MSCM and MSBA programs. The competition celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival where families eat mooncakes, acknowledge their blessings, and toast to the moon in its fullest and brightest.
Since this was Man-Su’s first Mid-Autumn festival away from home, she wanted to kindle the same holiday spirit that she had in Taiwan.
“Mid-Autumn festival is very important in Chinese culture,” Man-Su said. “I just feel like it’s our first year together, it’s better that we celebrate.”
The competition gathered almost 20 students from both graduate programs. Each student brought a homemade dish for the party and voted for their favorite. After the feast, three dishes won. They were Chinese fried pork pie, beef wraps, and Sichuan boiled beef.
“It was so fun that we even considered hosting it again,” she said.
For Man-Su, the competition meant much more than feasting on food and pastries. It was a moment for the Asian community to celebrate their heritage and remind themselves that they are not alone.
“I feel very grateful that everyone attended the competition,” Man-Su said. “We shared the celebration and feeling of togetherness.”
Finding a career in supply chain
Before joining the MSCM program, Man-Su worked as a business development manager at Nielson, an American media analytics company, in its Taiwanese office. She built partnerships with companies and helped them find the best media solution to increase their market share.
It was in this role that Man-Su saw the importance of supply chain management. For multinational companies, having a strong supply chain can give them a competitive advantage in sourcing, buying, and selling products.
Seeing this potential, Man-Su decided to pursue a graduate degree in supply chain management. She applied to numerous graduate schools in the United States, was offered four MBA admissions, and eventually settled on the MSCM at the University of Washington (UW).
When asked why she chose the UW, despite receiving scholarships from other universities, she replied, “definitely the people.”
“Some schools even offered me half-tuition scholarships but I still chose the UW MSCM,” Man-Su said. “The connection here was so strong that I felt very confident, without hesitation, to put myself in the program.”
Being surrounded by a supportive community was important to Man-Su when deciding between graduate schools. Since she was in Taiwan during her application, she reached out to over 20 alumni and staff on LinkedIn to learn about the culture of each program.
“Out of the alumni from these schools, the UW alumni are the friendliest,” Man-Su said.
From her conversations, Man-Su saw a thriving potential in the MSCM program. From the growing companies to the quirky culture of Seattleites, Man-Su gained valuable insights from alumni that she could never have found online.
“Even though we have a lot of information online to know more about Seattle, we still need someone to guide us,” she said. “It makes me feel very warm and very safe.”
Giving back to the community
Now at the UW, Man-Su is continually building relationships with MSCM students. With the outstanding diversity in the student body, she is grateful that she can learn a bit of something from everyone.
“We have senior procurement managers, business development managers, and engineers in the class, and they all come from different countries,” she said. “I can always learn from someone because they share knowledge with each other selflessly.”
Moreover, having a diverse skill set is necessary to succeed in supply chain management, Man-Su added. At the MSCM, she can learn various business concepts, such as accounting, statistics, and spreadsheet modeling, and apply them in a professional case study.
“I appreciate the way the MSCM arranged its courses,” she said. “Students have a better grounding in business concepts in the first quarter and then apply these skills in real business.”
Today, Man-Su is a student ambassador in the MSCM program because she wants to be the “bridge” between the program and candidates. She is passionate about connecting with international candidates, showing them the career potential of MSCM students in Seattle, because she too was in their shoes.
Outside the classroom, Man-Su takes every opportunity to bond with the MSCM community. From watching a Huskies game to celebrating new homes, Man-Su and the MSCM cohort always have a reason to come together.
“The cohort, alumni and program staff take care of each other like a family,” she said.
After graduation, Man-Su’s goal is to become a program manager in the tech industry. She aspires to use her MSCM skills, including her international experience in the U.S, to enhance the cross-cultural economy of her hometown, Taipei.
“I met a lot of young talents [in Taiwan] who are eager to gain a global perspective, but they don’t have the chance to go abroad and meet professionals from different countries,” Man-Su said. “At the MSCM, I’m blessed to receive the experience that people dream of. I want to share my insights with young talents and improve their professional lives in the future.”
Learn more about the MSCM program to see if it’s the right fit for you and your career.