Master’s in Management: Sofia Ribeiro, Yale School of Management

Student Name: Sofia Ribeiro

Graduate Business School: Yale School of Management

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: Ambitious and courageous woman striving to improve health of vulnerable populations. Passionate about overcoming challenges. 

Master’s Graduation Class: 2020.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Lisbon, Portugal, Medical Doctor. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Public Health. NOVA University of Lisbon, Political Science and International Relations.

Current Employer and Job Title: Public Health Medical Doctor, Frontline response to COVID-19.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Successfully managing the implementation of the Fast-Track Cities initiative in Lisbon, Portugal. This is a joint UNAIDS/IAPAC/UN-Habitat and City of Paris initiative aiming at curbing the HIV epidemic in urban centers by joining multiple stakeholders together. 

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: Effective time management in order to take the most out of the opportunities that Yale University had to offer. I learned to engage in the areas I am passionate about while contributing to the student experience at SOM. I served as several roles at the school, namely as the MAM Ambassador to the Global Network of Advanced Management as a Member of the Honor Committee and as the Chair of the Advisory and Advocacy Subcommittee for the Title IX working group. In addition, I was a teaching assistant for the Global Network Week and for the Life Sciences Industry Course. I was also the course coordinator for the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Course. It was extremely challenging, but I graduated with fulfilment and feel thankful for having met so many wonderful people, including teachers, staff and classmates who have supported me in every step of the way. 

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Two key factors: the mission of the school, bridging business and society, and the fact that I could take courses from other schools. As a Public Health Medical Doctor, I know for a fact that business and society go hand in hand to improve the health of populations, and this school provided me an opportunity to integrate both management with public health, with a strong emphasis in contributing to society. That truly resonated with me and my future professional endeavours.

What led you to choose a Master’s in Management over an MBA? I pursued a double degree, combining an MBA with a Master in Advanced Management. On January 2019, I started an MBA at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, striving to acquire management knowledge that would allow me to improve Public Health interventions. Early on the program, I heard about the possibility of pursuing a double degree at Yale, and I decided that it was the perfect fit for me, as I could take classes across other areas of knowledge, including public health. This would give me an opportunity of integrating the business knowledge I had acquired at IE to an area that I am passionate about. 

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? Impact Measurement and Financial Reporting in the Social Sector by Raphael Duguay. Impact measurement is often overlooked in the social sector as it requires expertise and resources, but is a key factor to drive efficiency and improve interventions. This course was absolutely amazing, and I have learned several tools and methodologies that I will surely apply in any job connected to Public Health. In addition, Raphael was an amazing teacher who managed to ensure that each and every students’ voice was heard during class. I am truly thankful for that, as I have learned a lot from their experiences.

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? While at SOM, the mission of the school always resonated with me and my background as a Public Health Medical Doctor.  I knew that any job I would take would have to reflect my purpose: improving the health of vulnerable populations. The careers office, together with faculty members, had a key role in helping me explore options that would be a good fit.  I was far from imagining what would happen in the upcoming months, but the school also provided me the tools to navigate uncertainty and to redefine priorities as needed. When returning to Portugal in the middle of a pandemic in march 2020, I felt the urge to use the knowledge and experience I had acquired in SOM to curb the COVD-19 epidemic in Lisbon, Portugal, where I come from. Therefore, I decided to spend the last year in the frontlines as a Public Health Medical Doctor, managing contact tracing teams and applying different strategies to increase efficiency. Looking back, it was probably the most challenging experience in my career so far, but definitely the one which provided me the best opportunity for professional and personal development. Serving my community was an extremely fulfilling experience, and I am confident that the skills I have acquired will certainly be useful in my future professional endeavours.

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? My classmates were definitely a major highlight of my experience. They have an immense diversity of backgrounds and experiences from different industries, cultures and geographies, which reflected in each discussion during class. Most of the classes I took had a mix of students which included undergraduates and students from other programs, and we were also encouraged to take courses outside Yale SOM. I took a course at the Yale School of Public Health on HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, and completed a project with Rick Altice focusing on strategies to curb opioid addiction. There, I had an opportunity to apply the knowledge on marketing and business planning and learn a lot from public health students and graduates.

One thing I truly valued was the supportive environment at Yale, which helps you thrive every step of the way. Classmates were always ready to help you succeed, which was of utmost importance for me.

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning?

Though it is hard to choose as I had fantastic faculty members, I will choose two: Heidi Brooks from the Interpersonal Dynamics course, and Teresa Chahine from the Public Health Entrepreneurship and Intrapraneurship Course. Heidi Brooks was truly committed to developing our personal self and how we apply it to our professional life. Through her class, I have learned that we can only unlock our full potential if we are aware of who we are and how we relate to others. I have applied the strategies I have learned during class to my everyday working life since then.

Teresa was an amazing teacher which challenged us to explore the connection between public health and business. She made an extraordinary effort to get to know our student profiles and to encourage us to bring our professional experiences to class. We had external guests almost every class, usually the founders of the ventures we were discussing in the case, and it was extremely inspirational. 

Both were always available to support me during office hours, and gave me extremely useful advice for my future career. Heidi and Teresa were two powerful women who are role models to me and have inspired my future career decisions.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? Show your true self through the whole application process and reflect on how the mission of the school reflects on who you are, on your path and on your future personal and professional achievements. 

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? Our class barbecues in the sun.


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