Meet Our Fellows: Arleen Chien T’21April 13th, 2021
Taipei, Taiwan. I grew up in Taipei and moved to the United States when I was 14 for high school.
What did you do prior to Tuck?
I was an industry researcher at Forrester. My subjects of expertise and research specifically focused on data management platforms within the programmatic advertising space. Essentially, I helped brands figure out how and what data to feed into automated ad buying platforms like Google Ads.
Another area I covered was social intelligence. This research was focused on social listening platforms or technologies that allow brands to scrape social media sites and user generated content to gather consumer insights and figure out what people said about them.. For example, if a company was releasing a hot new sneaker in their New York City store, it could “listen” specifically for buzz on Instagram related to that event and NYC specifically to understand how effective the unique marketing event was.
I also had a lot of exposure working with clients on loyalty and retention marketing. My favorite part of having this coverage was understanding the mechanics of how successful loyalty programs distill predicted purchase behaviors to points, miles, and toasters. There were more than toasters involved but I got to help clients design a whole host of different programs – from email marketing and CRM programs to complex airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Being a researcher at Forrester felt like I was a grad student (but a salaried grad student!) where I got to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies related to all of these topics. In addition to the research, I also led strategic advisory and brainstorm days with clients to make sure they were leveraging these technologies effectively to make sure they’re tracking properly.
Why did you choose Tuck?
I chose Tuck because I was really excited about going to a small business school program. I didn’t have any “business” experiences in an academic setting. One of the biggest catalysts for me happened while I was working with a client at Forrester. I was trying to convince them to invest in a technology provider that would improve their loyalty program (for a bit more context, this company was in the midst of merging two loyalty programs). I was speaking with the CTO of one company and he said, “I have so many other investments I need to make for this merger to even happen, and this is very low on my list…”
Until this point, I was so focused on what I wanted him to do…it just made sense to me that he should focus on this loyalty program, because I knew it had immediate benefits. It was then that I realized I had no idea how the marketing related investment I was pitching to his company fit into the overall business strategy of the organization.
Another thing that drove me to apply for business school was I never knew what came of the business recommendations I had made to clients. I wanted to shift to having more of a hands-on and direct impact and business school was the experience I needed to jump into those types of roles.
Do you have any post-Tuck plans yet? If so, what are they?
I am still recruiting and am hoping to find a product marketing or strategy role at a growth-stage consumer or retail tech company. I loved working at Allbirds this past summer, because Allbirds has a great product market fit [with shoes], and as they’re at this stage where they they need to keep asking themselves: “How do we go from ‘shoes’ to Shoes and….”
At Allbirds, I was tasked with helping the company understand how they could learn from consumers across all channels – in eCommerce, brick-and-mortar retail, and through customer service lines. One really fun problem I worked on was “How do you layout an online store differently for non-footwear products?” and “What consumer insights do we need to help people buy new items (like underwear) online?”
During my internship at Allbirds, I built an appreciation for how software fits into a quicker product development lifecycle, and allows for quick, efficient insight into how your brand is doing in real-time.
As I look forward to the next step in my career, I see myself still working within the retail space but with digital products. I’m really excited about the technologies that enable more brands to reach more consumers in more channels. Some exciting companies I’m looking at include Klarna and Marqeta because they are tackling how digital retail experiences for consumers can really come to life.
What made you want to be part of the CDS MBA Fellows Program?
To be honest, the CDS was something that really drew me to Tuck in the first place. There were some folks at Forrester who had spoken at CDS-sponsored events, so I had a pretty good idea of the value the center provided when I applied to Tuck. I love the idea of having the opportunity to work with practitioners like Patrick Wheeler and Joe McDonald and academic experts like Professor Taylor.
After being a first-year CDS Associate, I wanted to keep learning from my classmates who were experts in their pre-Tuck fields. Learning from them about what they loved about their past careers and why/how they chose their path was a highlight of my first year at Tuck.
What is the best part about being involved with the CDS?
I like being able to take what I’m learning in the classroom and apply it directly to the roles and industries I want to be part of in the future. Every company and industry needs a digital strategy, and the topics we discuss as CDS fellows are a great extension of what I’m learning in the classroom. I’ve made great friends in the center with the staff and my peers, and it is something that just makes me really happy. I love being able to come to a lunchtime meeting, hear from people at different companies, and just learn about topics I had zero familiarity with. I love that through the CDS I can now at least ask intelligent(ish) questions about eSports and I shouldn’t have passed on that opportunity to join Musical.ly (now TikTok) three years ago. The CDS has really helped me learn how to think critically about moonshot technologies.
What other activities are you involved in at Tuck?
I am a Tuck Admissions Associate, Visiting Executive Fellow, Wine club co-chair, and Marketing and Retail club co-chair. I was really involved in organizing this past year’s annual Marketing Symposium and got to host some awesome Tuck and Dartmouth alums. Pre-Covid, I played Tripod hockey and loved it!
What has been the biggest growth moment or moment where you stepped out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that experience?
I came to Tuck wanting so many different things out of my education and experience. I came in thinking I wanted to work for a really big brand with instant name recognition since I didn’t have any “client-side” experience.
I know hindsight is 20/20 but now looking back, I realize that what I really wanted was an opportunity to be more hands-on in building a product or brand and driving change at a company.
Working at a smaller company like Allbirds helped me discover that I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one function. I want to work cross-functionally, and I want to use digital technologies to improve the company.
I’m a big advocate of marketing (it’s not just a cost center!!), but I think to be better at marketing, it is important to have a greater understanding of different functions in an organization in order to maximize ROI. So working at a smaller company, I think I’ll be able to better see the “big picture” and contribute in a really big way.
My experience first-year recruiting was great because of how exceptional the Tuck alumni network is. In the fall, I felt supported every step of the way – each alum I spoke to would connect me with another classmate or coworker. When my original internship was cancelled at the last-minute because of Covid, I really got to test out Tuck’s promise that alums will always respond to cold emails from other Tuckies. A CDS alum called me within 5 minutes of me sending him an email. Another set up a lunch with his HR co-worker so that he could find out where they were in their internship recruiting cycle and if they could fit in another candidate! It was so encouraging that when I faced a challenge, the alums around me went all hands on deck to see how they could help me.
Through it all, I learned to be more comfortable with risk. This experience has made me realize I don’t just want “any job,” but something that I find fulfillment in and that challenges me. I think it’s a disservice to a company if you’re just there to collect paycheck, because you think you “should just be there.” During this whole experience, I was working with a T’18 for my First Year Project (FYP), and he was creating a direct to consumer wine business, and he offered to let me stay on to work on that, too. Did I mention how awesome the Tuck network is??
What speaker(s) have you learned the most from in your time at Tuck?
The Experiential Learning trip to Ben & Jerry’s has been one of my favorite Tuck memories. It was a conversation in the context of leveraging digital marketing tools to do more than just sell ice cream. It inspired my CDS project, “How Companies Can Use Consumer Data Positively and be Successful Doing it.”
It was also great hearing from Niraj Shah, CEO and co-founder of Wayfair. I loved listening to his story on “How I Built This,” so hearing him at Tuck was a really cool experience. I also recently got an Apple Watch, and after the CDS/CHS Digital Safari, I’m even more inspired in the ways that wearables can improve consumer behavior for positive outcomes.
What books are you reading, podcasts are you listening to, or shows are you watching?
I just finished watching “Derry Girls” on Netflix.
I’m reading The Spy and the Traitor, another recommendation from Joe McDonald! My first copy of the book got stolen. When I went to reorder it, Bill Gates put the book on his reading list, and then it was sold out everywhere and I couldn’t read it! I finally got another copy.
In a similar “spy” vein, I’m listening to the “Wind of Change” podcast, which is so entertaining. All this content about spy history has really helped me think about how there are SO many different ways people can understand a single problem…
What aspect of living in the Upper Valley has surprised you the most since arriving here?
Winter sports are generally new to me and I’ve definitely surprised myself with how many activities I’ve gotten to try! Some of my friends remind me that snowshoeing is “just walking,” but they’re wrong! It’s great. It’s how I’ve stayed sane and been able to safely see Tuck friends amidst the pandemic!