Kicking off the semester with new faculty — Eun-Jeong ‘EJ’ Ko
Interview by Madinah Muhammad
Eun-Jeong Ko previously worked as a management consultant and strategist responsible for developing new businesses for Fortune 500 companies in the United States and South Korea. She joins Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Department of Management and Entrepreneurship in Silberman College of Business as an assistant professor of entrepreneurship. “EJ” — as students and faculty have come to know her — teaches two courses this semester, Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Business Planning Forum.
FDU: What attracted you to FDU?
Eun-Jeong Ko: FDU’s focus on entrepreneurship, its global perspective and the University’s emphasis on diversity. What I found to be most interesting is that FDU focuses on both research and teaching. I also wanted to work for a university that understands the value of entrepreneurship programs and has the vision to expand those programs across disciplines.
FDU: What in your personal experiences sparked your passion in entrepreneurship?
EJK: A friend of mine is an entrepreneur and her passion, dedication and commitment to her business is incomparable. Through her, I realized how entrepreneurship could motivate and change a person’s life. I am also surrounded by family members who are entrepreneurs, which has given me the opportunity to understand what challenges they face and victories they experience.
Long-term I want to become the bridge that connects entrepreneurs in Asian markets with entrepreneurs in the U.S. markets. Through my efforts and commitments I want the younger generation of entrepreneurs to have global and diverse perspectives and contribute to making the economy more innovative and sustainable in the future.
FDU: What did you do in your professional career prior to joining FDU?
EJK: I worked for eight years as a management consultant and strategist in the U.S. and Asian markets (South Korea, Hong Kong and India). During my professional career I worked on many new business development projects. I understand how large companies in the U.S. and Asia develop new businesses and what challenges they face.
FDU: How do you motivate and encourage students when they are facing challenges in class?
EJK: I am very proactive and responsive when it comes to communicating with students. I encourage them to contact or visit me during my office hours. I listen to their concerns and work with them to find solutions to their problems. I also send students weekly emails to remind them of class preparation and assignments. Since my classes are very experiential, I provide students with consistent and detailed feedback both inside and outside of the classroom, which is critical to their learning and allows them to reflect on what they are doing.
In the “Business Planning Forum” course I require students to build their own business models. Students come prepared with their business idea within the first two weeks of the semester. Through classroom activities and their assignments, students apply concepts and business frameworks taught during class to their business ideas and validate those business ideas with potential customers through multiple interviews. For example, when I taught customer archetypes — which allows students to thoroughly understand their target customers — students had to create a persona based on what they learned during class and interviews they conducted. Students also have to develop a prototype and a website for their product/service. These activities allow students to learn the practical skills needed to become an entrepreneur.
FDU: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
EJK: I have a five-year-old son and we enjoy playing all kinds of sports together. His favorite is dodgeball — we play at least four days a week.
He also enjoys baseball, tennis, basketball and swimming. The last time we went swimming, he beat me in a race. He has great stamina and is so energetic.