Lucy Yiran Liu
“A curious-minded experience designer, passionate about humanizing technology through empathy.”
Hometown: Winnipeg, Canada
Fun Fact About Yourself: Feeling a little restless during the pandemic, I dusted off my sewing machine and started making fabric face masks. At first, I made them just for family and friends, but eventually started an online store and sold through Etsy. In a few months’ time, right before moving to France for my MBA, I made and sold over 600 masks in 50 different fabric patterns.
Undergraduate School and Major: Richard Ivey School of Business – University of Western Ontario, Bachelor of Arts in Honors Business Administration.
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: IBM, Senior Design Manager
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Aside from the highly diverse student body and truly international alumni network, I was attracted by INSEAD’s multiple campus setup – Fontainebleau, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. To be able to experience two or three distinctly different environments while still maintaining a cohesive, high quality education is unparalleled to any other MBA program.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? Design and Innovation Club! I’m very excited to explore how design differs in various parts of the world and how culture shapes localized trends.
What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at INSEAD? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? I’m thrilled to be building new connections and long-lasting friendships with such an amazing group of people. I look forward to hearing about all their exciting adventures and experiencing the culture they carry from every part of the world.
The intensity of the 10-month program is a little nerve racking. To be able to absorb so much in such a short period time can be a huge challenge. Between the classes, group work, travel, and social activities, I’m afraid sleep will have to take a back seat.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I led the design of a mobile application for a European airline’s flight crew a few years ago. The app provides pilots and flight attendants with a single, real-time view of the flight schedule, pre-flight briefing, and layover information. This allows the crew to prepare for their upcoming trip anywhere, at any time, eliminating the need to arrive at the airport’s flight control center ahead of their flight.
After the app was deployed around Christmas time, I took a flight with the airline to see firsthand how the app was performing in the field. Aside from the 95% user adoption rate in the first two weeks of deployment, one flight attendant said: “It was like a Christmas present!”. Hearing the enthusiasm in the users’ voices, I felt a rush of emotions that made me truly feel the impact I’ve made in their daily lives. This feeling was more precious to me than any award or compensation. It reinforced my passion for improving people’s lives through technology and defined what success meant for me.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I aspire to simplify technology for the masses. To do so, I would like to broaden my perspective and deepen my understanding of people from all over the world. I feel that the last seven years of work experience has given me a great technical foundation. However, in a class with individuals from over 90 countries hailing from various industries, the immersive MBA experience at INSEAD will provide me with a dose of caffeine that will allow me to grow exponentially in a very short period of time.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? One of the essay questions I was asked in the application was to provide a candid description of myself, who I am as a person, and to stress the main factors that influenced my personal development. I found this question quite challenging and spent a lot of time self-reflecting. It forced me to dig deep into my personal past and search for reasons that led to the decisions I’ve made. In the end, I was glad to have been pushed to answer this question as it helped me to gain a new perspective about myself.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? The strength of INSEAD’s brand is prominent in every corner of the world. When I started thinking about going back to school, I reached out to people who had recently done an MBA. Every INSEAD alumni I spoke were incredible individuals with unique backgrounds, fresh perspectives, and vibrant personalities. I followed my intuitions based on the people I wanted to surround myself with and am extremely grateful that I did.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Working in a company with a female leader, I’ve always thought that IBM was a progressive company in terms of gender equality. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I was looking specifically for a female partner to be my mentor, that I’ve realized how wrong I was. Yes, the company had aimed to hire at 50/50 for the last several years, and yes, there were numerous company-wide diversity programs. However, when looking for female mentors in leadership positions, I had so surprisingly few to choose from. It was in that moment that I realized the road ahead may not be as easy as I had imagined as a naive new graduate. This revelation made me realize the importance of identifying the challenges women face in the journey to leadership and I look forward to exploring this topic at INSEAD.
DON’T MISS: Meet INSEAD’s MBA Class of 2021