A Passion and a Plan: Mike Kwon Succeeds in What He Loves

A Passion and a Plan: Mike Kwon Succeeds in What He Loves

Tell us about your career journey.

I graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from George Mason University in Fairfax. After graduation, I joined a multinational electronics company called Flextronics as a marketing staff. But, even at that point, I was still looking for the true passion in my life. So, I decided to go to graduate school to study Culinary Arts. That’s how I started my career in the food and restaurant industry. BBQ, a Korean-style chicken franchise, is where I took my first step in the food industry. I was promoted twice in a row and became one of the youngest general managers in my early 30s. Thinking back, it was really having a clear goal and vision that propelled me to success at work and in my life. I ended up pursuing a PhD degree in Service Operating from Hansung University and taught start-up management at Woosung University. Some of those students later became my business partners. Currently I am working with four of my students to run my restaurant branding business. Since then, I’ve built 10 restaurant brands and I also manage some of them in Songdo and Seoul.

What is your career advice for Mason students?

I can tell you that George Mason University was one of the best choices that I made in my life! Just like myself, you may not have a specific career goal set upon your graduation and George Mason being such a community-engaged university opened my eyes to different experiences and career options. It was really the conversations that I had with my professors and peers that helped shape my thoughts and future. George Mason University is also where you get to experience what studying or living in the US is like, and now with the Mason Korea campus located in Songdo, Mason offers is a cross-continental experience that is truly unique for college students. I’d say the more the better. The experiences that you’ll gain from your college years—whether it’s an internship or a community service—will be transferable to your future career and only expand your network!

What were your memorable times at in Mason?

I was having lots of fun hanging out with my friends at Johnson Center, the library at the Fairfax campus. Some classes were a little bit difficult for me to follow as English is my second language, but I got help from my friends and professors. I hope that I get to see some of Mason Korea students teaching at the main campus who can also act as connectors between the two campuses.

I own or operate several restaurants at Triple Street (Bucker’s BBQ from Austin is the new one that opened in September), so stop by to say hello! All Mason students, faculty and staff get special discounts.