Meet Stanford GSB’s MBA Class Of 2021

Peixi Yan

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“A construction site-loving, zip code-challenged engineer who loves people more than numbers.”

Hometown: Tianjin, China / Missoula, MT

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I didn’t have a physical home for six years prior to coming to the GSB. I was either living on construction sites, or couch surfing while traveling and sailing.

Undergraduate School and Major: Montana Tech, B.S. in Environmental Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Chevron – Environmental, Labor, Community Lead

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It happened during the three years of working offshore Angola on an oil and gas construction project. Bobbing around in the middle of the ocean for an extended period of time, I wasn’t alone in feeling isolated. But our 1000+ Filipino colleagues had the toughest schedule, working 6+ months on and 3 weeks off in both a physically and mentally challenging environment. I wanted to help, so I started out by organizing small events such as Bingo Nights and Ping Pong tournaments to encourage friendships and remove the feeling of being alone. Eventually, this work led me to champion the “Make Life Better Offshore” campaign, leading multiple activities that helped build a family-like community offshore.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Well-roundedness. While everyone is very accomplished in their unique ways, I have been very impressed by how well-rounded everyone is here as well. Academics, fitness, career, passion, emotional intelligence, etc. – everyone seems to have it all, yet people are so personable and humble. It’s truly a privilege to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? When I visited GSB for the first time, I sat in on a class called “Power of You,” which explored the topics of women and leadership. I was immediately drawn to the discussions due to my work experience in construction, where females are much less represented. After speaking to GSB students after class that day, I learned more about the school’s focus on leadership development, introspection, and interpersonal dynamics, things I wanted to further explore to help me become a better leader.

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve found about Stanford GSB so far? The sheer number of activities you can get involved in! I always knew that life was going to be busy at the GSB, but I still underestimated the number of options we would be presented with, be it career-related, social events, classes, clubs, networking, etc. I don’t think I’d ever relied on a calendar this much before!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Definitely the main essay question: “What matters the most to you?”. It took a few months of self-reflection to figure out my answer, but I’m glad that I spent the time finding it out. It helped me examine various aspects of life and learn more about who I am and who I want to be.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS

What is the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you arrived at Stanford GSB? About myself, I’d say it has shown me how many real options I have with what I can accomplish.  Throwing myself off a set career ladder into the unknown was a leap of faith, but it’s one that I wake up each day here glad I did. I’ve come to the realization that I’m the type of person who can step off the well-worn path without fear because of my own strength of conviction and capacity for success.

For the world, I’ve found that I had let myself only see the world through the narrow lens of the industry I had chosen. When you live and work surrounded by people in the same work, it can be hard to see beyond that to the wider picture. Here at the GSB, that lens is gone. I have met people who have taken many different life paths and shared experiences, memories, and learnings which I would never have seen without coming here.

What do you see yourself doing ten years from now? Hopefully, I will be in a role that can drive changes to reshape the oil and gas industry from within, helping it deliver sustainable energy for the ever-changing world.

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