Connecting the dots: Linking problem-solving skillset to tech sales strategy

By: Trevor Sung, Two-Year MBA ’21
A picture of Trevor Sung in front of a virtual background giving a presentation.

Trevor Sung presents his final project at the conclusion of his internship at Equinix

The Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Immersion has definitely been one of the highlights of my experience in Johnson’s MBA program. From classroom to treks, I gained valuable knowledge and practical experiences from fine-tuning my consulting skills to developing lasting relationships. I found these learnings very helpful throughout the whole recruiting process and especially during my internship. My SGE experiences not only rounded out my MBA toolkit but also expanded my perspective on the impact of sustainability issues in business.

SGE Immersion takeaways

From the very beginning, the SGE immersion practicum trains you how to tackle complex problems. From structuring a problem to designing an effective presentation, we get to put our business skills to the test and practice in a client team setting. Moreover, in the Strategies for Sustainability course, I dissected cases of sustainability issues using new frameworks and a critical mind. These learning experiences gave me not only the functional knowledge I need to be versed in these issues, but also deepened my understanding of complicated social and environmental problems.

During the client engagement, I got to use the problem-solving skills I had just learned and see their impact. My team’s project was to recommend an expansion cost strategy for an international renewable energy company. We took a deep dive into the energy industry, analyzing trends and policies. My team and I interviewed industry experts across the value chain and collected valuable insights, which helped us develop informed and actionable recommendations. For example, one executive gave us a realistic evaluation of how the competitive landscape could change after the tax credit expires that supports the ranking score we gave to the target markets

The value of differing perspectives

My cohorts in the SGE immersion share a strong sense of community and created great memories for me. We all come from different professional backgrounds but have a common interest in making a positive impact on the world. The SGE immersion accepts graduate students from other colleges and schools at Cornell, people who also have an interest in sustainability but who often offer differing viewpoints and challenge the “MBA way” of thinking. This gentle tug-of-war helps all of us to strengthen our ability to listen effectively and express our opinions in a respectful manner while simultaneously working to achieve a sustainability goal.

photo of Trevor Sung and classmates engaging with one another during an icebreaker early on in the SGE Immersion
Trevor Sung and classmates getting know each other during an SGE Immersion icebreaker, Jan. 13, 2020

The best bonding moment happened when the SGE immersion cohort traveled together to New York for a couple of days for company visits. Though each of us have different industry or functional foci in the sustainability field, we were all excited to see the different approaches firms have, from investment banks to food distributors, to make their businesses more sustainable. This was inspiring and motivating for us as we worked on our respective client projects.

Immersion skills put to work during my internship

My SGE experience was valuable and relevant to my internship at Equinix, a leading firm in internet connection and data centers. During the interview process, I was able to highlight my experience working on the strategy project in the immersion, which was the experience my hiring manager was looking for. I was also able to speak about relevant sustainability issues in the data center business, which is increasingly looking to save water and energy in their operations.

My first project during my internship was to research the 5G industry. Using the frameworks from the SGE Immersion and Johnson core classes, I was able to jump right in without hesitation and tackle the problem with a detailed value chain analysis, from cloud service providers to mobile operators. All the report-writing and deck-building experience from the immersion was fresh in my memory and enabled me to design effective and persuasive materials. Moreover, I was able to navigate a complex industry environment and identify the key potential partners for Equinix.

A screenshot of Trevor Sung and colleagues in individual boxes playing online Jeopardy via Zoom
Trevor Sung playing online Jeopardy with colleagues from his internship

Networking

What I learned in the SGE immersion also enabled me to speak intelligently when networking with professionals from different backgrounds. At Equinix, I bonded with a sustainability professional over a topic we learned in the immersion as we chatted about the topic in the context of data centers. In addition, I was able to strike up a meaningful conversation with a public relations director about how the company views the impact of environmental regulations on the industry—something I was not able to do before business school.

In conclusion, the training from the SGE immersion broadened my horizon of knowledge in different industries. It has sharpened my consulting and problem-solving skills, which have proven to be very relevant in the workplace. Through my experiences, I also came to realize the value of the network you develop, both at Cornell and in the industry where you work. I am confident that I will take the learnings and growth from my time with Johnson SGE Immersion into the next phase of my career.

Learn more about CSGE

headshot of Trevor Sung, Two-Year MBA ’21

Trevor Sung, Two-Year MBA ’21

Trevor Sung is a second-year MBA student at Johnson. Originally from Taiwan, Sung has an engineering background and worked in Texas as an environmental consultant prior to his MBA. He has seven years of experience in technical services, developing environmental data systems and managing commercial software implementation projects. He interned last summer in a sales strategy role at Equinix, a global internet connection firm. Outside of work, Sung enjoys playing basketball, watching comedies, and spending time with his family.

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