Meet Yale SOM’s MBA Class of 2018

Yale School of Management

Yale School of Management

AMERICA’S ANSWER TO INSEAD?

Make no mistake: Yale SOM offers a hard-to-beat proposition. Squeezed between New York City and Boston, the MBA program possesses a brand name that conjures up pictures of elite firepower and intellectual rigor. When the Class of 2018 was asked to share why they chose Yale, however, few mentioned the larger school brand. Instead, they focused on areas synonymous with the business school, a sure-fire sign that the program is fulfilling Snyder’s dream of forging its own identity.

That’s particularly true in Yale’s focus on all things global. Aside from the school’s large global cohort, the program requires students to travel overseas as part of an international experience course. In addition, first years complete projects in global virtual teams comprised of students from campuses worldwide. However, it isn’t just the curriculum, which includes a Global Network Week where students can take mini-courses on overseas campuses, that gives Yale its international flavor. It also comes from the students’ zest for global learning says Zu. “Yale’s student body seems very internationally-minded. A large portion of students I met there, international or domestic, have international work experience or global career aspirations.”

DelMonico only sees this trend accelerating in the coming years. “One thing I’ve noticed in the past few years has been the increase in students joining us at Yale who have extensive experience working outside of their home country or region, often multiple experiences in multiple countries,” he says. “This kind of “global mobility” is consistent with the school’s objective to be the most distinctively global U.S. business school.”

FIRST YEARS SEEK A MISSION…AND A COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT THEM

Yale is also a mission-driven school — which is another big part of its appeal. The program’s long-time mission, “Educating leaders for business and society,” hints at the values inherent to its DNA: ethics, big picture thinking, fundamentals, and social awareness.  At Yale, students aren’t just looking to master lessons, but understand them in the context of how they can make the world better. “Business can be an effective way to shape a society under the right stewardship,” Xu explains. “I want to be a leader in the business world and perhaps even in the political world one day. Yale, under its unique education philosophy, accommodates my desire to have an impact in both business and beyond.”

Yale School of Management students

Yale School of Management students

That’s one reason why the program thrives in social enterprise, including ranking #1 in the nonprofit specialization according to a 2016 U.S. News survey of MBA administrators. However, you won’t find social themes strictly in select courses, says von Ritter. Instead, they are a way of looking at business as a means to an end beyond profit-and-loss. “Yale SOM walks the talk in its commitment to prepare leaders for business and society,” she explains. “While many schools boast of their sideline social entrepreneurship track, SOM infuses social impact into its entire program. Here, it seems that social business is not an elective for the progressives; it’s the norm for everyone. This is evidenced by the high number of students coming from and going to NGOs and social businesses; the loan forgiveness program for those pursuing a career in the public and social sectors; funds for those doing a low-paying social summer internship; club organized trips to NYC and DC to meet with employers in the social/development space; and the requirement of an overseas experience.”

This level of social consciousness is also a factor in the strong sense of community among Yale MBAs. The program ranked in the top 10 in the most recent alumni and student surveys conducted by Bloomberg Businessweek. It did the same in the “student experience and personal development” and “educational experience” survey categories from the new Economist ranking. These good feelings translate into an upbeat alumni base, with donations nearly tripling over the past decade. Even more, the alumni participation rate — a barometer of alumni enthusiasm that traditionally hovers around 25% at most MBA programs —climbed above 50% in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The Class of 2018 experienced this enthusiasm for the program first-hand during campus visits.  “Everyone shared a goal of developing with—not against—one another,” observed Micon. “This attitude of community means failing is safer, learning is more collaborative, and creates an alumni community who want to help you succeed.” Cedeño admits that it may sound cliché, but she also picked Yale because of the people. ‘They challenged me to think about my purpose and passion over my credentials. I knew that this place would change me personally and professionally and I needed to know who this next version of myself would be after two intensive years with reflective, thoughtful, fiercely passionate individuals challenging my worldview on a daily basis.”

The School of Management’s synergies with the larger Yale community was an added benefit, adds Morris, herself a 2015 Yale grad. “It’s an incredibly stimulating, exciting and diverse place, with vast resources, where there are few limits to what a person with initiative can discover and explore. It’s a great place to meet talented people and to ask: what can we create together?”

YaleSOM5

FROM CLASSMATE AND CONFIDANT…TO EMPLOYEE AND INVESTOR

What does the Class of 2018 plan to go after graduation? Africa appears to be a population destination. Xu, for one, intends to develop renewal power infrastructure project there to fight against global warming. In contrast, Tafadzwa Mahlanganise, a former researcher with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), expects to make an impact through agriculture. “Given that 70% of people in Sub-Sahara Africa depend on agriculture for livelihood, I would love to work towards increasing productivity along the agriculture value chain system. I will be happy knowing that I am contributing towards reducing output loss, adding value to primary products, empowering small-scale farmers, and creating the much needed employment – a crucial step in alleviating poverty and moving the continent forward.”
Others have cast an eye towards public serve. Straathof pictures herself going into the world’s oldest profession…politics. “I believe politics is where we ultimately decide what kind of society we want to live in – and I want to be part of that discussion. So in the long-term, I want to run for a seat in Dutch parliament.” As a junior high teacher, Lewis helped several skills develop the skills to enter some of Philadelphia’s top high schools. His goal is to lessen the achievement gap riddling many school systems. “My dream job is anything that helps me further this goal. It could be in the form of starting my own elementary school, working with tech giants like Google and Facebook on increasing access to their burgeoning education platforms, or working in consulting to help large education organizations increase their effectiveness and efficiency.”

When the Class of 2018 leaves New Haven in 18 months, many hope to extend the relationships they’ve built. When asked what they’d like their peers to say about them after graduation, Cedeño dreams of phrases like, “If I could choose who to work for, I’d choose her.” Despite being several years younger than her peers, Morris already has a clear sense of how the game is played outside the gates of academia. “I’d like them to say, “Wow she’s making a big impact! And I hope she continues to do so because the work she’s doing really matters to me too.” In addition, I’d like the wealthy ones to add, “I’d love to fund or invest in her organization or venture.”

DON’T MISS: THE STEREOTYPE-DEFYING MBAS IN THE CLASS OF 2018 OR

MEET YALE SOM’S MBA CLASS OF 2018

To read profiles of incoming Yale MBA students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.

Ali Bandeali / Bedford, TX

Emily Burchinow / Toledo, OH

Sarah Cedeño / Grand Terrace, CA

Chris Frerichs / Omaha, NE

Julian Gomes / London, UK

Vance C. Lewis / Paoli, PA

Tafadzwa Mahlanganise / Harare, Zimbabwe

Nate Micon / Niagara Falls, NY

Viveca Morris / Winston-Salem, NC

Olivia Sánchez Badini / Mexico City, Mexico

Nina Straathof / Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Yihana von Ritter / Washington Grove, MD

Webber Xu / Shanghai, China