Meet Yale SOM’s MBA Class Of 2019

Christopher Shen 

Yale School of Management 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Former investor. Self-starting and values-driven problem solver. Forever intellectually curious. Gluttonous eater.

Hometown: Novi, Michigan

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan, Ross School of Business – Finance and Accounting

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: 

The Kresge Foundation – Investment Analyst, Investment Associate

Shinola – Consultant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Prior to Yale, I worked at The Kresge Foundation’s investment office, where our team was responsible for investing and growing the Foundation’s endowment. At Kresge, I helped build and shape our co-investment program (direct investments in companies, rather than investing via funds) from the ground up – depending on the opportunity. This involved researching wildly different industries including fish farming in Greece, mineral rights in Chile, surgical gloves in Malaysia, and charter schools in the United States, among other things. Over a compressed timeframe (frequently less than 2 or 3 weeks), I would have to understand the market, assess potential risks, speak with executives to push them on their business plan, and ultimately make a recommendation on whether or not to invest. During my time, I deployed over $70 million in capital across the globe. The returns that these investments earn will help support Kresge’s mission of expanding opportunities for low-income folks in America’s cities, which on a personal level, is particularly fulfilling.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Applying to business school is an arduous process that requires serious self-reflection and introspection, so start as early as possible. Ask yourself the (deceivingly) simple question of: why do you want to go to business school in the first place? Do you want to switch careers? Develop a more global perspective? Start a business? Thinking through what business school really means for you and how it fits in to your vision of your future self will serve as a guidepost in school selection, essays, and admissions interviews. Try to be as authentic as possible when doing this – avoid creating a story that only fits into the mold of what you think the admissions committees will want to hear. Being genuine throughout the process and making sure your story is an accurate representation of who you are will make your personal narrative that much more compelling.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Yale SOM really takes its mission – “educating leaders for business and society” – very seriously. As I was learning more about the program, this mission was clearly deeply intertwined throughout the curriculum and student experience. Part of how Yale tackles this is through its commitment to preparing its students to be effective leaders across the globe. Opportunities like Global Network Weeks and Global Network Courses, where I’ll have the chance to interact with political leaders, thought leaders, and students at 28 other top business schools around the world, really drew me in.

One of the other ways that I saw SOM “walk the walk” in this area was in the way it built its class. Over 40% of the student body is international, meaning that the wide array of perspectives I’ll be able to learn from, both inside and outside the classroom, will only make the experience that much more enriching. As someone who envisions the possibility of working outside of the U.S. at some point in my career, Yale’s global reputation combined with the above made the decision a no-brainer.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Not gaining 15 pounds despite the existence of Pepe’s, Modern, and countless other pizza joints in New Haven (see: “gluttonous eater” above). In all seriousness, I hope to find some time amidst the hectic schedule of an MBA student to give back. Whether this means applying the knowledge and skills I will have gained to serve on the board of a local non-profit, or simply sharing my previous experiences as an investor with my classmates, I’d like to know that I made a positive impact on those around me. Learning to play ice hockey would be kind of neat, too (hockey is a big deal at SOM!).

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