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Meet Stanford GSB’s MBA Class Of 2021

Joshua Yang

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Aspiring pâtissier. Wears scarves with shorts and t-shirts. Caffeine enthusiast. Lifelong student (literally).”

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: The biggest tension in my life is reconciling my daily fitness regimen with my undying love of pastries.

Undergraduate School and Major:

  • University of California, San Diego – B.S. in Bioengineering: Biotechnology and B.S. in General Biology
  • University of California, San Francisco – M.Eng. in Translational Medicine
  • Johns Hopkins University – M.D. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering (LOA)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Nephrosant, Co-Founder

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a co-founder of Nephrosant, a biotechnology startup focused on developing kidney disease diagnostics, I am most proud of the culture we created. In Nephrosant, my fondest memories have not been about tangibles such as prizes or investments, but about people. I reminisce about our earliest days in 2017, eating in the Palo Alto Il Fornaio with the rest of my co-founders, laughing boisterously about hectic late-night conference calls just weeks prior and tearing up while sharing feelings of how privileged we felt to work with each other. Now 14 people strong in 2019, our most recent holiday party involved playing White Elephant at a South San Francisco Chinese restaurant, laughing about stolen gifts and sharing our optimism for the coming year. I’m proud that we’ve actively worked to maintain this culture.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Unpretentious. Until coming to the GSB, I had never been in an environment with such a high density of accomplished and successful people. Unless you looked at everyone’s resume or LinkedIn profiles, you would never know it. The classmates I’ve met all have a quiet self-assuredness, the combination of a confidence in who they are now and inquisitiveness for the knowledge and skills that will mold who they will be in the future.

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 applied to the MBA program, I was an MD-PhD student with dreams of biotechnology startups and medical innovation but without a clear path to accomplish these dreams. I found myself at a transition in my life, an inflection point at which the transformation I sought to create and develop in myself would require specific curricular and programmatic options and entrepreneurial resources that I realized I would only find at the GSB. These included the supportive, non-competitive entrepreneurial environment offered through the Stanford Venture Studio and the project-oriented, team-based Startup Garage. I was also drawn to the biodesign and healthcare-specific management courses taught both didactically and experientially – not to mention the Leadership Labs training where theory meets practice. I believed there could be no substitute in both my personal growth and career development. Now having attended Stanford and taken advantage of these resources, I know it to be true.

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve found about Stanford GSB so far? I expected more people to know exactly what they planned to do after business school and use their time at the GSB strategically to help them reach those specific goals. In reality, the vast majority of my classmates, including myself, are still finding ourselves, discovering who we are and will be not only professionally but personally. For both, the resource leveraged most effectively has been neither the coursework nor the career services, but each other. It is through chats over coffee, impromptu dinners, and walks around campus with my fellow classmates that I have found the greatest learning opportunities.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Why leave a fully-funded MD-PhD program, a degree program with surefire career stability and prospects?—a question asked by friends, family, professors, colleagues, and even myself. But, when I ponder over the factors and choices that lead me to this point, I know that the risks of staying are so much greater. In the pursuit of my dreams of healthcare leadership and innovation, the real peril is not following my heart.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Berkeley Haas.

What is the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you arrived at Stanford GSB? This response may be because I entered the GSB without any formal business knowledge and with limited work experience. On an academic level, I’m still blown away by what I learned in my finance class, where bankruptcy is merely a transfer of ownership from equity holders to debt holders and not necessarily a failure of the underlying business. On a personal level, I’ve learned that my happiness is dependent on two variables: the quality of my environment and the depth of the personal relationships I developed. For much of the past three years, I’ve always had one or the other but not both. Now at the GSB, living in the Bay Area and on campus with my fellow classmates, I am so fortunate to have both.

What do you see yourself doing ten years from now? I can barely predict what I’ll be doing in six months let alone a whole decade! Broadly, I envision continuing my path of healthcare and life sciences leadership, continuing to invent and commercialize new technologies for the benefit of patients and physicians. Perhaps I’ll have branched off into biotech venture capital, investing in the dreams of other like-minded individuals. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have opened up a small corner bakery and achieved my own personal pastry dreams.