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ShopBack office before Singapore's National Day

Internship Spotlight: Jack Rong ’20

What did you do this past summer? We asked rising second-year MBA students to check in from their summer internships, where they applied the lessons of their first year at Yale SOM.

Jack Rong ’20

Internship: ShopBack, Singapore

Hometown: Zhuhai, China, and Vancouver, Canada
Favorite Yale SOM class: Behavioral Economics with Professor Florian Ederer and Professor Shane Frederick
Clubs and affiliations: Greater China Club, FinTech Club
Favorite New Haven eatery: August
Favorite Professor: A. J. Wasserstein
Favorite Yale SOM community event: Internship Fund Live Auction

I started my MBA at Yale SOM to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone. In my early career, I focused on acquiring practical skills in financial analysis, spreadsheet modeling, and tactical execution. However, functional excellence does not necessarily translate into managerial effectiveness. How do I become a competent leader? This question brought me halfway across the world to ShopBack for my summer internship.

Headquartered in Singapore, ShopBack is an eCommerce loyalty and discovery platform powering more than 2,000 merchants and providing cash rebates to more than 8 million users. As an MBA intern, I assisted ShopBack’s chief commercial officer (CCO), Candice Ong, in strategic project management. One of my primary responsibilities was coordinating among regional marketing, product management, business development, and local campaign teams on cross-functional initiatives across Asia Pacific.

One of my projects involved the design of an end-to-end hiring plan for local marketing campaign teams. In the eCommerce space, brands, merchants, and platforms fight for the attention of shoppers during year-end shopping festivals. Because of the overwhelming number of promotional deals available, ShopBack is uniquely positioned to help both sides access information in a timely and organized fashion. In preparation for a busy Q4 and to achieve internal business objectives, ShopBack must scale its team and expand commercial activities by September. Not only did I have to delve into ShopBack’s corporate structure, but I also needed to get a grasp on the roles of current ShopBackers. Until then, it would be impossible to identify recruiting requirements, let alone draft a job description. Many concepts from SOM’s integrated core curriculum came to my rescue. In particular, Professor James Baron’s Employee course [now called the Workforce] helped illustrate how the alignment, consistency, and credibility of HR practices could determine commercial success. For example, hiring correctly, in this case, called for assembling a squad capable of working together most effectively rather than bringing in the best individual performers. To this end, I introduced a mini marketing test and created a scalable on-site interview format to standardize the evaluation process and allow interviewers to assess culture fit and behavioral attributes primarily. By the end of my 12-week internship, I was ready to on-board a team of business development and marketing coordinators based in ShopBack’s regional hub in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

With a geographical presence in seven countries, ShopBack actively shares key learnings across borders and marketing channels because there are multiple possibilities for forming flexible strategies between local and regional levels by aggregating resources creatively. In early July, I organized a team offsite in Singapore for campaign mangers from ShopBack’s local offices with two main objectives, continuing professional development and collaborative problem-solving. The team communicated to me one challenge, which centered around how to empower them to drive incremental gains in performance marketing metrics. More important, I wanted to make sure that such improvements would go on after my internship. Thanks to Professor Amy Wrzesniewski and Professor Ravi Dhar, who co-taught Yale SOM’s raw case on Mastercard in the Executive class, I remembered that good managers lead through personal actions whereas good management establishes systems for decision-making. In response to crafting more effective campaigns, I recommended that Candice prioritize the development of an in-app notification center. The goal was to put campaign manages in the driving seat and enable them to facilitate faster iterations of localized campaigns through personalized messages without relying on product iterations to derive data-driven, actionable insights.

I am grateful for the level of trust in me evidenced by Candice and other ShopBackers. A growth mindset led me to venture into a new region and a different industry. More important, it prompted me to explore new possibilities for my career. I hope I have shared this growth mindset with ShopBackers so that they will keep thriving as the company is destined to do in the future.