Tom Chang and Jia Kirsten Cheng (MBLE ’06, MAcc ’07)

Jia Kirsten Cheng (MBLE ’06, MAcc ’07) isn’t one to sit idle. After two successful careers, one in corporate accounting and the other as a business owner and chef, she’s currently working on her third degree from Ohio State – in nursing – and is preparing to become a family and mental health psychiatric nurse practitioner.

To some, her career path might seem completely unrelated. However, as Jia explains, every decision has led her to this moment. Motivated by a desire to promote and support health and wellness, which for her, includes healthy meals, giving back and helping others in her community, she is grateful for the foundation that Fisher and her previous work positions provided as she now combines all of her passion and experience to focus on her next role.

How did your career unfold after graduating from Fisher with your MBLE and MAcc degrees?

After graduating with my Master of Business Logistics Engineering and Master of Accounting from Fisher, I accepted a job in the taxation department of Columbia Gas of Ohio-NiSource. Using the Six Sigma methods, I initiated and implemented efficiencies in tax accounting procedures, and developed and documented training manuals for the department, including multi-companies’ tax procedures, department procedures and software manuals.

My next role was with the law firm, Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter. Once again, I employed the six sigma methods I learned at Fisher to streamline their workflow. I also assisted the CFO by managing accounting, finance and budgeting functions associated with client accounts.

How did you go from being an accountant to a chef and restaurant owner?

I love art, design, philosophy, dance and fitness. I’m a foodie and self-taught chef. I grew up exposed to all different types of food, art and cultures. Food reflects the culture, and the culture embraces the food. Food is the simplest art in our everyday life.

Tom ChangIn 2017, my husband Tom Chang and I turned my love of cooking and baking into a business when we established Tiger+Lily, our restaurant in downtown Columbus. Our concept, Asian fusion, promoted healthy eating. We had zero restaurant experience.

I used ingredients from all over the world to recreate nutritional Asian cuisine that is good for your mind and body, including lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options. We use low-sugar, made-from-scratch sauces, bone broth, fresh ingredients, real tea leaves and fruit in bubble tea, gluten-free dessert, non-processed food and non-GMO rice.

I initiated the planning and utilized Six Sigma method to design and implement the logistics for the kitchen chain. I successfully trained and motivated front- and back-end employees. I personally wrote all the recipes, designed the presentations of the dishes and tested every single dish, dessert and drink on the menu from my home kitchen.

Tiger+Lily was named best new restaurant by Columbus Monthly. Customers tell me how delicious the food tastes and that they feel good about eating healthy options. I am proud Tiger+Lily is a healthy food destination for the community.

What made you change directions to pursue nursing?

Even though I found success in the corporate world and in owning my own business, I don’t believe those jobs truly define who I am.

As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I will be in a unique role and feel honored to help patients with cognitive, behavioral and emotional needs to develop the strategies to safely navigate their life in times of crisis.

Although I had a different career path in the past, those choices ultimately helped me realize what I really want to do. I want to help patients and to live my life giving back to those in need – that’s what brings me ultimate happiness.  

In what ways has your Fisher experience had an impact on your career and who you are today? 

My Fisher experience has influenced every aspect of my life. Professionally, I’ve used the skills and knowledge gained from earning my MBLE degree to implement efficiencies to various processes and procedures in different industries. 

Jia Kirsten ChengPersonally, I became more efficient and productive in my own life. My MBLE background has made me a very organized person with excellent time management skills, enabling me to perform effectively and efficiently, and to work extremely well under pressure. It also made me a critical thinker allowing me to analyze situations and data, drawing logical conclusions, and make decisions based on overall facts. I also make sure everything gets the attention needed while analyzing and making the best decision in chaotic situations.

Lessons learned from the MBLE program have taught me how to adapt to different situations, to feel confident in facing unpredicted challenges and to solve problems with my critical thinking and evidence-based solutions, which will serve me well in my career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Tell me about your effort to provide meals to front-line workers during COVID-19. 

The pandemic has caused increased anxiety with both patients and health care workers. I wanted to show comfort and kindness to health care workers, giving them an opportunity to recharge as they continue to provide safe and effective care for patients.

I am not only proud of taking care of COVID-19 patients, but also taking care of our front-line health care workers.

By organizing restaurant owners from the Asian community, I have coordinated and personally delivered approximately 900 meals, drinks and desserts to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. My hope was to offer a moment of respite to those who are giving so much of themselves in such difficult circumstances.

Why does Ohio State hold a special place in your heart? 

I am a Buckeye for life. The education, knowledge, caring faculty and networking available at Fisher are incredible. Instructors and classmates become your mentors and friends for life. They are there for you, encouraging you to overcome the difficult times, cheering you on to become a stronger person and celebrating your successes.    

My Fisher experience has influenced every aspect of my life. 

Jia Kirsten ChengMBLE '06, MAcc '07