2018 Best MBAs: Christine Chen, Yale SOM

Christine Chen

Yale School of Management

“Passionate about gender equity, human capital strategy, and the art of cooking (and eating) dumplings.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii

Fun fact about yourself: I’m dancing with Lenny Kravitz in one of his music videos.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Wellesley College, BA in Neuroscience

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? (List Company and Role)

  • Oliver Wyman, Campus Recruiter—Inclusion & Diversity Lead
  • KIPP NYC, Recruitment Manager
  • Public Prep, Staff and Student Recruitment Associate
  • Muchin College Prep (a Noble Street Charter School) through Teach for America, High School Performing Arts and Reading Teacher

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Deloitte Consulting LLP, Chicago

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte Consulting LLP, Senior Consultant in Human Capital

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors)

  • Student Government Co-Vice President
  • Class of 2018 Student Life Chair (elected position in Student Government, two consecutive years)
  • Co-Chair, PeriodCon 2018
  • Human Capital Club Co-Leader
  • Class of 2018 Student Fundraising Chair for Internship Fund (an annual student-led campaign to raise funds for classmates pursuing social sector internships)
  • Student Orientation Leader
  • Admissions Interviewer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? PeriodCon at Yale SOM. Yennie Lee (SOM ’18) and I met as learning team members, and in between problem sets and group projects, we had informal conversations about the everyday challenges surrounding menstruation. We quickly realized that as members of the Yale SOM community, we are in a unique position that enables us to bring together the best minds, innovators, activists, practitioners, and business leaders in order to bring light to a lot of issues surrounding this topic. It’s quite unbelievable that we still live in a world where getting your period might mean losing your right to an education or falling victim to sexual violence in unsafe sanitary spaces. Our conference brought together more than 120 attendees (including those who do not menstruate, like men) from the university, non-profit, and for-profit sector from the nearby community and faraway (we had panelists from Uganda!). The conference also featured prominent leaders in the industry such as Jennifer Weiss-Wolf (author of Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity) and brands such as Diva International Inc., Boxed.com, and Thinx. We also used our conference as a platform to put together a pad and tampon drive for local non-profits dedicated to supporting homelessness in New Haven—we donated more than 5,000 pads and tampons!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Straight out of college, I was a high school teacher at a charter school in Chicago through the Teach for America program. Nothing can prepare a fresh graduate for an experience like teaching, especially in an inner-city school, but every day with my students was such a humbling experience. One of my 350 students, Dorcas, was a sophomore when I started teaching her. It wasn’t until I left teaching a year later that I found out she had been accepted into my alma mater, Wellesley College, and was planning to enroll. We kept in touch (and had a couple of pizza dinners and movie nights) and now she’s a teacher in her own classroom through Teach for America in Baltimore. She started this past fall, and I bought her a Wellesley pennant for her classroom, just like the one I had in my classroom a little over eight years ago! She, along with all of my students, continue to make me proud every day.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Business Ethics, taught by Jason Dana. A discussion-based class, Business Ethnics was my favorite class because it helped me find my personal code of ethics as a future manager and leader. Prior to the class, I thought it was so easy to point out what the “right” or “wrong” thing to do is, but the discussions really pushed me to understand others’ code of ethics and where they come from. Real world problems don’t simply have “right” or “wrong” answers—there is a ton of grey area.

Why did you choose this business school? Something magical happens when you step into Evans Hall, Yale School of Management’s dedicated building on campus. Everyone in that building is family, and they know you and you know them, because we are a community that cares so much about each other. Transitioning from a small, liberal arts, all-women’s college, I knew I needed this type of environment to thrive. I also chose SOM because it is one of the youngest of the top business schools. This means that as an individual, I have the power to start something new, perhaps a new initiative or event, that could change the course of the school or the lives of my classmates. You can’t find an opportunity like that at any other top business school.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Don’t focus too much on the numbers. Yes, test scores and GPA—that’s all important, but it’s not your whole application. I was (and still am) a pretty mediocre test taker, and I was obsessed with my GMAT score. After multiple attempts to raise my score, I finally decided to focus on other parts of my application, especially the parts that were still in my control—the essay and short answers. We have a website that lists so many students (Admissions Ambassadors) who signed up to talk to prospective students and tell them more about our amazing school. Take advantage of that and think about what you bring to the school, the opportunities SOM will provide for you, and, together, the remarkable amount of impact you will achieve.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That everyone goes into non-profit work. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I was more of the majority, as someone who found that many classmates also came from the non-profit education sector. But, our school is actually very diverse; in fact, consulting and banking are probably the most popular career tracks for SOM students after graduating.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not signing up for wine class—a class we take very seriously, which meets once a week.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire every single one of my classmates, but there’s one that truly stands out for me. Her name is Tarini Mohan, a fellow Wellesley College sibling, and an inspiration to more than just me. She was in a horrible accident a few years ago while doing non-profit work in Africa, causing major damage to her brain. Even though she is still recovering, she has the drive, determination, and charisma to ask the tough questions in class, bring classmates together in small group settings, and just be goofy and fun when we all need a break from the fast-paced business-school life. She pushes me to think of access, equity, and inclusivity, especially in my leadership roles, more than I would have prior to being her friend and classmate.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I decided to pursue business school after college, more specifically during my time at Public Prep as a Student and Staff Recruitment Associate. One of my managers at the time, Alex Steele, was one of the only people I knew with an MBA, and she was such a great manager, always pushing me to do better and fighting for what she believed was right for our students in her role as the Director of Operations.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…auditioning for Broadway musicals—it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to sing on Broadway. (This is what happens when you’re named after the main character in Phantom of the Opera.).”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I’d dedicate more formal time and resources toward connecting the student body to the staff in the building. Evans Hall is such a tightly knit community, and it would be great to have some time to sit down and chat with staff members who work so hard in many ways to support our learning. Their smiles and “hellos” when I enter the building each day really make an impact, especially when I have three project deadlines looming over my head and back-to-back meetings.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

1) I’d like to start my own all-girls school focusing on empowerment and self-confidence.

2) If I can’t get Oprah to help me with #1, I’d like to just meet her—maybe even give her a hug if I can.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “She knew how to get things done. And get them done well.”

What is your favorite movie about business? It’s not a movie, but I love Shark Tank. I started watching it more after taking some Entrepreneurship classes at SOM. I learned that to start a business, you have to give it your all: quit your job, take out loans, and take risks. I also learned that there’s always a problem to solve—those people on that show are my heroes!

What would your theme song be? “Dancing Queen” by ABBA

Favorite vacation spot:

Home with my family in Honolulu

Hobbies? Singing with my SOM band, perfecting my dumpling recipe and teaching it to others, watching an embarrassing amount of Law & Order SVU

What made Christine such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

Christine Chen is the vice president of the SOM student government and the student life chair. She exemplifies the very best in our student body, volunteering for such demanding, pivotal leadership positions. She serves as a role model for all students in her caring commitment to the varied perspectives of the student body.

Prior to her graduate work, Christine’s professional career has been dedicated to assisting organizations with mentoring, performance management, and diversity and inclusion goals. Her early career focused on education, beginning with her work with Teach For America and continuing in leadership roles in charter schools located in urban areas. Christine is a mission-driven individual, and Yale SOM greatly benefitted from her commitment to the projects that speak to her caring mission. She has dedicated herself to bettering the school community, serving on multiple committees to help elevate the school experience for her classmates. In one of her many leadership roles, Christine served as an orientation leader and volunteered to serve as a mentor to the entire incoming class for the ensuing academic year. She has been extraordinarily effective in educating her classmates on positive student activities that lead to well-being, taking on very significant student experiences. Her dedication to promoting healthy, inclusive extracurricular school programming has benefited everyone in the larger school community. Her selfless dedication to assisting others achieve a supportive, positive experience is pivotal to the holistic school experience, and defines Christine. She has accepted a role at Deloitte Consulting after graduation.”

Sherilyn Scully

Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Life


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