Episode 6: "How can a business education help you run a plastic surgery practice?" With Amber Yoo

Episode 6:

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- [Andy] So tell me about San Diego. I guess Ron  Burgundy would say, "Stay classy, San Diego." - [Amber] Yes - [Laughing] - [Music] - [Andy] We Are Warrington is a new  podcast that helps young business   leaders discover what is possible  by highlighting stories from the   Warrington College of Business Community  about the University of Florida experience,   business industry insights, innovative research  and more. I'm your host, Andy Lord. Today's guest   is Amber Yoo. Amber is a double gator who  earned her bachelor's in Business Administration   and her MBA from the University of Florida. She's  the Vice President of SKY Facial Plastic Surgery,   a company she started with her husband Sirius  in San Diego, California. Amber is now working   on her third degree from UF as a student in the  UF DBA program, while managing her professional   responsibilities and spending time with her  two-year-old daughter Quinn. We're gonna be  

speaking with Amber about her time at UF, how  she's managing her business during COVID-19,   her work with non-profit animal shelters, and  how the UF DBA program is helping her strengthen   her analytical skills. Amber, welcome to the  podcast thank you for joining me here today. - [Amber] Thanks for having me, it's a pleasure. - [Andy] It's great to talk to you,  it's great to talk to one of my   MBA alums, you and I were discussing that it  was about 10 years ago that you started the MBA   program and that was right when I was becoming  the Admissions Director for the MBA program.   So you might've been one of the first  letters that I signed in my tenure there.

- [Amber] Oh, wow. - [Andy] Yeah, so it's great to be in  touch with you. Talking about the Gators,   when did you know you first  wanted to be a Florida Gator? - [Amber] Yeah, good question. I was born and  raised in Jacksonville, Florida. So I think that   all of us who are from Florida can  attest that you're either born a Gator   or you're born the other school who I won't  name. And I think it was in middle school or  

high school they had college days and we all had  to wear college shirts and everything to school,   and I remember rummaging around in my mom's  closet looking for a college shirt and it was   a Gator shirt and I don't know, it  was just a part of my blood, I guess. - [Andy] Decisions made in the  clothing. I love it. There you go,   college day, that sounds like a lot of fun.  So you completed your bachelor's degree,   I know you did some research while you were  here, I don't know if you wanna discuss that   but your background is really interesting having  a business administration degree and then you were   doing physics as well, and then you were doing  some research and I'm gonna say this wrong,   but genomics, something to that effect  which I clearly know nothing about. Can you   kind of tell us a little bit about that and  what you were thinking at that point in time? - [Amber] Yeah, absolutely. Well the story is  

simple once you have the missing piece  which is I wanted to be a veterinarian. - [Andy] There you go. Okay, got it. - [Amber] I was on the pre-med track  because at the time they didn't have   a pre vet track at UF and organic  chemistry took me down, basically. - [Andy] It took me down many years ago, I get it. - [Amber] Yeah, so I had to take that twice.  The second time I passed but I had to switch my  

major at that, so I switched to business which  I did not know that at the time but was a very   strategic long-term move for where I am today.  And in order to kind of keep that spark alive   because I thought that perhaps I could still go  to vet school, I did the area of specialization in   physics and that's how I got involved with the  research project and I was analyzing microplasma   DNA for alligators. So it was actually a lot  of fun and it was prior to the big genomics   movement that's going on now especially here  in San Diego, San Diego is a hub for that. - [Andy] Genomics, there we go. Thank you  for correcting me and making me sound like   I know what I'm talking about. So when you  graduated, what was some of the first jobs  

that you were doing? And then we'll get into  when you eventually came back for an MBA,   but where did that lead you post-graduation  out of the University of Florida? - [Amber] As an undergrad I really was on the vet  track, so I was working as a vet assistant at a   veterinary hospital. And when I got my degree, I  wanted to go to the next level, but veterinarians   are typically small family-owned businesses  like mine is now for the medical side of things.   And there's already a manager and they're  typically older with a lot more experience   than a 22-year-old just out of undergrad. So I  felt like I was hitting a ceiling and I really  

wanted to grow on the management tract, and so  that led me to expand outward from there and I   ended up getting into the nonprofit realm  which took me kind of full circle back to   humane societies, the Seattle Humane Society.  And that's when I realized, oh you can do   so much to help animals and you don't have to  be a veterinarian. So that really opened my   eyes and I loved that job I ended up being the  marketing manager there underneath the CEO who   was my mentor, Brenda Barnette. And she's the one  now looking back when I've been reminiscing, that   really started me off on the path that led me to  where I am today because she saw something in me.   I was hired as her executive assistant and our  director of marketing resigned and she had me go   into her office and kind of get her paperwork  organized and everything and she ended up   having me do some of her responsibilities and I  guess she saw something and she says, "Hey, do   you wanna do marketing full-time?" And I was like,  "Yeah, I kind of like this." Yes, so I moved over   into a marketing associate role and  worked my way up to marketing manager   and that's when I saw that in the nonprofit sector  there's not a lot of formal business training.  

Everyone's kind of winging it because  they're all passionate about the cause.   And because of my undergrad, I knew the  potential for taking a nonprofit and applying   business best standards and best practices to  it. And so that's really what led me to want   to go back to school and get my MBA and that's  when I applied and Brenda Barnette was actually   very supportive and she wrote me a letter of  recommendation and here I am today basically. - [Andy] That sounds great. So you were living in  Seattle at the time and you look back at your home   institution and you're like, Holy moly they have  an online MBA program. We were 10 years into that  

online version because it did start in 1999. How  excited were you that we could offer that degree   and what led you to choosing doing  the MBA at the University of Florida? - [Amber] Well, I think that number one  thing is I was a working professional   and the MBA program that you're speaking of  at UF targeted emerging business leaders that   already have years of experience in the field.  And so number one it was an accelerated program   which I liked because I had a life that I was  already in progress on that I couldn't put that   big of a pause on. So that was number one.  But number two, along with the flexibility   that the UF program offered so important to me was  that it did not compromise the rigorousness of the   education. That was so important to me. I didn't  want just a stamp on a piece of paper saying,   “hey, you've got your master's.” I really wanted  the knowledge. And you really don't have an   appreciation for how well-run UF is until you get  into the higher level of education. In my opinion,  

I was just too young to appreciate what  was being given to me as an undergrad,   but as a Master's now looking back, especially  as a business owner myself, it was so well run   and I think because of that I was able to get  a fantastic education that fit in with my life,   and I didn't have to form my  life around the education. - [Andy] There you go. And so you were  coming here once every four months   earning that degree 16 months in the program.  I think other reasons people choose to do the   accelerated version is they don't have to deal  with all those business core courses again.  

So no financial/managerial accounting or any of  the macro/micro and all that stuff that you had   seen in years prior so that's great. So now here  we are, and you said I'm gonna do this three times   over and I'm gonna be a DBA student. So what led  you to the DBA here at the University of Florida? - [Amber] I would be a lifelong student  if I could just let me be honest with you,   I love, love learning. And I didn't  even know a doctorate program existed  

until I was in the MBA program and that's when I  first heard about it. And I don't remember this,   but I found it when I was applying  for my doctorate. I emailed my husband   while I was in my MBA program saying I just found  out there's a doctorate, I want this. It was 10  

years ago and I had moved on with my life, I  had forgotten about it, but then I started the   business and 10 years into having a successful  business, again I felt like I was hitting a   bit of a ceiling knowledge wise. I was ready to  grow, I was ready to expand and I was trying to   figure out how I could do that and the doctorate  program came back to me in terms of an option. - [Andy] That's fantastic. So with that,  the DBA program it focuses a lot on applied   research and analytical skills, so  what are some of the tangible ways   that you've found those skills to benefit  you in your professional career currently? - [Amber] Yeah, that's a tough question for me  to answer because I'm so new in the program I'm   still in the first year, I've only done four  courses. So I could say that if I wanted to,   if I had the time, that's the other thing right  now I have zero time beyond day-to-day management   of the company and my family and school, but if  I had the time at this point, I could go back   to my annual customer survey and run data analysis  and SPSS on that to really look statistically at   the trends and what's significant and how big the  effect is. Prior to that, I was running my version  

of reports in Excel and trying to glean some  insight from that data. And that was actually one   of the reasons that made me want to go back and  get my doctorate as I felt like I would have more   control over the data that my business collects  and that I'm not using to the full potential.   So that's number one, but number two I think that  I've already grown a lot analytically. I would say   that I had a leg up, I think from other people  who may be gone to other programs other than   UF for their MBA, but because I'm working on my  triple Gator degree, my MBA at UAF already set the   groundwork for really strong analytical thinking.  In fact, I think that's one of the number one   things that I personally came away with is  I knew how to make something out of nothing.

- [Andy] And speaking of your business,  so how did you decide to start SKY   Facial Plastic Surgery and what  has that journey been like?   Maybe you can kind of give us a bit of  history and where you guys are at today. - [Amber] Absolutely. So in medical school they  don't really teach you about running a business. - [Andy] Oh, I hear that a lot. - [Amber] So I think my husband had this master  family plan he called it the Yoo family plan   from a very early time, but I was passionate about  animals. And so I really did intend to use my MBA   to get back into the animal sector. But my  husband's very convincing and charming and   here I am running his practice. So that was really  the impetus, he had this vision for he's gonna do  

the medicine side of it and I'm going to run the  business side of it and we're gonna be a great   partnership and that's really what's developed.  SKY is my husband's initials S-K-Y so that's where   the name come comes from. And I would say that  really Sky is our first-born child so to speak. - [Andy] Okay, there we go. So she's 10 now,  we've been watching her grow up over the  

years and at this point 2020 has been a very  interesting year with COVID, I'm assuming. - [Amber] Yes, but we doubled our square footage  and added a provider in all of this. So we're   actually in another layer of a growth step for SKY  and that's really exciting, but I think that we   make a really good team, my husband and I because  he really does do a obviously phenomenal job with   the medicine side of things. And we respect  one another and I run the business side of   it and manage the team and the day-to-day  operations and it works out really well.

- [Andy] Understand. Amber, we're gonna go ahead  and take a quick break and we'll be back with more   in just a minute. The UF MBA program has a  format designed specifically for your needs,   whether you wanna be a full-time student on  campus, an online student or anywhere in between,   UF MBA has a highly ranked program format created  with you in mind. You'll have access to some of   the top minds in business education and gain  a strong network of motivated professionals   on your way to becoming one of more than  74,000 Warrington graduates around the world.  

Learn more about how you can pursue an MBA  from UF like Amber by requesting information   at the link in the podcast episode description  or at www.warrington.ufl.edu/podcast/episode6. - [Andy] Welcome back to We Are Warrington. I'm  speaking with UF DBA student, Amber Yoo. Before   the break, we were talking about the business  you own with your husband SKY Facial Plastic   Surgery. Can you elaborate on how you manage  your business in this difficult time of COVID-19?

- [Amber] Wow, that's a complicated question.  It has been a really challenging time.   And when COVID first hit, we were having the  most successful month that we've ever had in our   history and then just shut down for over a month.  And so that was challenging and my biggest focus   at the time was keeping my staff employed.  And so we all went to working remotely, we   started thinking about what we could  be getting ahead on in terms of   kind of more housekeeping type of things because  we couldn't see patients. We're fortunate that  

after that initial shutdown because we're  in the medical field, we haven't been   faced with a shutdown again, but we did lose  good people because of that. And so here we are   post shut down. We've doubled our square footage,  we've added a provider, we've lost three staff   and we haven't even added new  staff for the new provider.   So I'm almost done with my hiring but I still  have two positions to fill. So it has been   a lot, but I can tell you what the  team has been absolutely phenomenal. - [Andy] I can imagine so you're working  on a lighter staff right now, so your team   must really be picking it up on all aspects and  sounds like they wanna be there, that's great.

- [Amber] Yeah, absolutely. And I think that  our patient base is understanding that we're   all going through global pandemic and I think  that all around even though there's been a lot of   challenges, I think that one of the lessons for  me coming away from it is that if you look for the   sense of community wherever you are whether it's  your work, family, your customer base you can find   it it's just a matter of looking for it with that  perspective. So that's been great and the team has   been fantastic. I remember when I gave birth to  my daughter early, we had our biggest event of the  

year for SKY scheduled and four days and I went  into early labor and I called my manager Ashaya   and I said, "Well, I've got good news and I've  got bad news. The good news is Quinn's coming." - [Andy] Shout out to Quinn. - Yes. "The bad news is I need you to put on this  event for me the parts of it and lead the team   through it." They rallied and I remember that that  was the first time pre-COVID, I remember that was   the first time I thought, wow. I never realized,  it's important to me to always make sure my staff   feel supported, but I never realized the power  of the flip side of that, that their support   for me because we are a family-run business is so  strong and real and I appreciate that every day.

- [Andy] Thanks for sharing Amber. I know a lot of  our MBA students a typical route for them is they   will graduate, they'll work Fortune  500 for a while, Fortune 100 companies,   leadership development programs, end up managing  large groups of people and then years down the   road, they finally say, "You know, I'm  gonna launch my own business, I've had   a lot of experience in this."  You're a little bit different,   now you've done some great things leading up to  your MBA but then you dove in and you just went   for it. How did your academic background here  at the university prepare you for all of this?

- [Amber] I think the number  one word is confidence.   Just have confidence in yourself and your  ability and in your thinking, I think   the biggest barrier to starting a company  is fear. You don't know how to get started,   you don't know where to go, what about  the financial aspect of it? But the   MBA and the DBAs adding to that really gives you  the confidence to move forward course forward.

- [Andy] So you guys have been listed on the Gator  100 three times, and for all of our listeners out   there if you don't know what Gator 100 is,  it's a list of top 100 fastest growing Gator   owned companies and Gator led businesses in the  world. What has that experience been like for you? - [Amber] It's been amazing. I had no idea  that I would, the second year we've made it   three years like you said, in the second  year we were number 24, that is crazy. - [Andy] That is, it's amazing. - [Amber] What they do is they read it off  backwards. So they start at number 100 and  

then work your way up and I took my dad because he  lives in Florida and my goal was just to break 50.   And then when we got to 35 where I was the  previous year and I hadn't been called yet   I was looking at my dad thinking, oh my gosh, this  is crazy. And so to get number 24 to be the 24th   fastest growing Gator led company in the world,  for me it was just external validation. Like you   said, I didn't go a direct route. So, maybe I  didn't have the context of knowing the success   measures of the larger corporations and how I  stack up. I was just starting my own business with  

my husband, taking one step at a time, plotting  forward here in San Diego, and to receive that   external validation from my alma mater saying  not only are you doing great but you're stacking   up excellently against other businesses like  yours across industries was just so amazing. - [Andy] That's wonderful. And  you've also had an integral role in   starting a nonprofit as well,  can you tell us about that?   Give a shout out to your nonprofit and a little  bit about what that experience has been like.

- [Amber] Yeah, I've always tried since  my dream of becoming a veterinarian   couldn't succeed and I went a  different path, I've always tried to   continue to contribute to animal welfare.  And I spoke about Brenda Barnette earlier   who was my mentor at Seattle humane society,  again, small world, she ended up in Los Angeles. - [Andy] Okay, not too far. - [Amber] Yeah, so when I was in San Diego we  reconnected and she was doing something very   ambitious, not a lot of people go from private  humane societies to city shelters. City shelters   tend to be less focused on saving lives. It's  more about controlling the population although   that's changing here in California and she's been  a part of that movement. So she was coming from  

Seattle humane where we were saving 5,000 animals  a year. It had a very high what's called a live   save rate and she was going into a city shelter  where I think they see 6,000 animals a year. And   she was trying to take that up to 85% live save  rate which still is not as high as she had had   it at Seattle humane. So she reached out to me  and she said, "I'd love for you to be involved."   And I was driving up to LA every weekend  for about two years with, yes, it was about   me and seven other people that were supporters  of her vision. And we started a 501-C3.  

It is called Friends of LA Animal  Shelters. And the most impactful thing that   was started at that time that is still  in place today is we started I believe it   could have been California's first, but it was  definitely LA's first mall store selling pets   from the city shelters. So we were competing and  providing an ethical alternative for a pet store. - [Andy] So Amber, now you're working  to save animals more locally in San   Diego. Can you tell us a little bit about that? - [Amber] What I'm doing now in San Diego it's  called the FACE Foundation which is kind of ironic   given that I run a facial plastic surgery practice  but has nothing to do with that it's about   animals, but they are also doing something unique  and I'm very proud to serve on their board. They   are trying to end economic euthanasia. So they  want to end a reason for euthanizing a family pet   being I can't afford this life-saving procedure  this life-saving surgery. And so they get  

applications for essentially grants from families  who need funding that can't afford it that   bill and FACE evaluates them and provides that  funding and partnership with the vet hospital. - [Andy] I love it, I actually personally  went through that but I paid the vet bills   and went for it but then on the  other end it was time. Poor Wiley. - [Amber] I think we’ve all been there, you know? - [Andy] I think I had a cat that lived  25 years, he was amazing so there you go.   We never could figure out how old he was and  how long that he made it, but he made it to   the very end so yes, that's great. Amber that's  an amazing idea. Nobody wants to be put in that   position where you can't afford to save a life  so I think that's awesome. All right, Amber,  

I know we're getting to the close of the time  that we have together and I feel I could spend   all afternoon speaking with you but I always like  to ask my guests this final question and so any   listener that's out there can take some sort of  inspiration and they can apply it to their lives,   but when the going gets tough and you're feeling  stressed with work and school and life in general,   how do you stay motivated and keep pushing through  all of this? As you mentioned, you don't have any   time but you are obviously staying motivated.  What do you lean on? What do you point towards? - [Amber] Yeah, that's a great question and  I think that over different stages in my life   that answer has been different. And I think at  this stage with the added benefit of a couple of   extra years on my life, I've come to realize that  I can have faith that I can weather the storms,   and I know that those storms are  actually necessary and even vital   to personal growth. And so just recognizing  that there are going to be downs,   you can't expect to have everything go right  100% of the time. And so now when those   downs do come I see it as an opportunity, and  there's not that knee-jerk reaction of a fear   based response anymore. It's more confidence  like oh, okay here's another lesson for me.   Let's unpack this, let's move forward, and I think  coupled with that is one of my favorite practical   tips that came out of my MBA which is the ABC  rule I don't know if you've heard about that.

- [Andy] Elaborate please I have heard,   maybe my ABCs are a little bit  different than yours but go ahead. - [Amber] Apply Butt to Chair,   it is such an important rule. And so when  you're feeling overwhelmed you need to sit down,   make a list, and just start with the  first checkbox and just go from there. - [Andy] Gotcha. My other ABC rule  has always been Always Be Closing,  

but I'm in recruiting and sales so it's  a little bit different. Oh, wonderful.   So on the other side and you mentioned some great  tips here about saying, you gotta take things one   day at a time. Obviously we're living in an  unpredictable society right now and I think   people are really learning this valuable life  lesson about just taking things as they come   and knowing you that you just can't control  everything, but we're all doing great things   and you're clearly investing in yourself right now  with pursuing this DBA degree. But beyond that,   are you doing anything, maybe another tip that  you could share that you're investing in yourself? - [Amber] Yeah, I think that probably the summary  of my thirties was that I had to do a lot of soul   searching, because I think in your twenties you're  striving, striving, striving and then you hit your   thirties and I think that's a perfect time  to really reflect and say, "Wait a second,   what's important to me?" Because I think that we  maybe especially as women, lose sight of that with   our relationships, with our obligations to others.  And so I did a lot of soul searching and right now   I'm about to start on my forties, I'm doing those  things. So I know that you mentioned the DBA but  

that is a conscious choice that I made to invest  in me. The other thing that I did was decided to   have a child because we had been talking about  that for many, many years never the right time,   we own a business so much going on. And I remember  I was walking with my husband in our neighborhood   and I said, "So about this kid thing." He's  like, "Yeah." And I was like, "You know what,   there's never going to be a good time. But I  think that if we look back on our life we're   going to want to have the joy that a child would  give us." And watching her grow it's only been two  

and a half years is just amazing so she's what  keeps me balanced and sane during all of this. - [Andy] That's wonderful. I have a daughter  as well her name's Emily, she just happens   to be 20 years older than your daughter at  this point. So I made that early investment.

- [Amber] Yeah, you probably  have a lot of tips to share. - [Andy] And I can tell you there's just never  a good time and you just take things as they   come that's for sure. All right, well Amber, it's  been wonderful speaking with you today, I really   appreciate all of your insight and your time and  sharing so much about SKY and your nonprofit work.   I know that the listeners are gonna really gain  a lot from this episode so thank you so much.

- [Amber] Absolutely, thank you so much for  having me, this has really been an honor. - [Andy] It has been a lot of fun  and it's been an honor talking to you   and clearly Go Gators, Amber,  through and through all the way. - [Amber] Oh yeah, Go Gators.

- [Andy] For listeners who wanna learn more about  Amber and other amazing Warrington students and   alumni, visit the Warrington newsroom and  follow us on social media @UFWarrington.   Until next time, stay motivated  and keep investing in yourself.

2021-04-02 23:34

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