Santa Clara University

David Cheng

MBA 2006 : Senior Financial Analyst, Apple

When the online Apple store started offering free shipping in 2009, David Cheng was the guy who got to figure out how the practice impacted the bottom line – did free shipping generate enough additional sales to make it work?

“The answer to that is classified,” said Cheng, who joined the computer giant as a financial analyst in 2006 shortly after completing his MBA at Santa Clara, in explaining what he does. Now a senior financial analyst, his job includes forecasting, promotions and revenue modeling, among a variety of other responsibilities.

“I do all the forecasting and operating expenses for all the resellers in the U.S.,” he explained. “The numbers I need to look at are huge.”

It wasn’t always so. Cheng, who earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and MIS at Santa Clara in 2000, remembers working as a market analyst, after having jobs as a web developer, financial analyst and applications specialist, and feeling like he was going nowhere.

“My experience was all over the place and I couldn’t leverage all those experiences into a career,” he recalled. After doing a cost analysis of the idea, getting his MBA seemed like the kick-start he would need.

“I think what the program’s good at is critical thinking,” said Cheng, adding that unlike many MBA students whose expenses are underwritten by employers, he paid for the program himself. “I felt I had to make everything count and make the most of the experience.”

One of the most valuable aspects of his education was an encounter with a career counselor who asked him what he would do if he was free to do anything he wanted. He realized the answer was making movies, something he’d worked on with friends as an undergraduate.

“She told me “You need to do things to make that happen,’” said Cheng, “That was a revolutionary idea for me. But movies are a business and the program helped me to sell my movies. If you’re just starting out, you also have to be able to motivate other people to help you for free.”

 Since then, he’s made a series of films, often with themes reflecting his interest in changing the stereotypes of cinematic Asian-Americans as either nerds or kung-fu heroes. He says that being at Apple also has made a huge impact.

“The attitude here is you want to do everything flawlessly,” he said. “We really want to be the best.”