2022 MBA To Watch: Alice Yuan, Yale School of Management

Alice Yuan

Yale School of Management

“A leader who creates environments that empower people and communities to build each other up.”

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Fun fact about yourself: My creative outlet is centered around food and friends—specifically, I love hosting Hot Pot and creating fun, delicious charcuterie boards for any dinner party.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Wellesley College, Bachelor of Arts in History, Minor in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? McKinsey & Company, Senior Knowledge Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Amazon, Pathways Operations Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Student Government

  • Student Life Chair, 2020 – 2022: Manage 10-person committee and $150,000 budget to plan and execute social events for the SOM community and maintain beloved SOM traditions such as Closing Bells, Harvard-Yale, Formals, and April Foolery. Student Life events range up to 700+ attendees per event.
  • COVID Committee Member 2021 – 2022: Represent the student voice in bi-weekly meetings with SOM deans and administrators to address the impact of COVID-19 on professional development and SOM experiences. Lead initiatives on improving club meetings, community gathering, and visitor policies.


  • Admissions Interviewer, 2021 – 2022: Interviewed and evaluated 20 applicants in Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. Connected applicants to SOM community if requested.
  • Student Ambassador, 2020 – 2022: Represent the SOM community and connect with prospective students to share insights on the MBA experience.

Community Work

  • Economic Development Advisor for the New Haven Union Station Redevelopment Project, Spring 2022: Identify and evaluate current and historical Community Benefit Agreements (CBA) in New Haven and conduct stakeholder analysis for a potential Union Station CBA.
  • 2020 School Lead for the Small Business School Challenge, Fall 2020: Organized the SOM Case Competition to support local businesses impacted by COVID-19. Recruited 10 teams of 4-6 students, mentors, and judges to participate in the challenge.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Serving the SOM community as the Student Life Chair has been the most challenging yet rewarding experience. This year, SOM navigated the transition from COVID to the “new normal” and the tension between those pushing to open back up and the need to mitigate risks associated with doing so. The Student Life Committee finds itself in a unique position at SOM as the main group that plans large-scale events and maintains many of SOM’s cherished traditions. As the chair, I had to balance representing student opinions and implementing administrative policies that were often in flux.

A huge win came when we successfully advocated for the return of our Harvard-Yale tradition: Student Life ran a week-long Spirit Week, and we organized a 700+ person tailgate that is often described as one of the core highlights of the SOM experience. We negotiated with multiple SOM and Yale leadership teams to receive the approvals. Along the way, we received harsh feedback from some students who did not understand the limitations or safety protocols we put in place. However, I guided my team on navigating these challenging conversations, incorporating constructive criticism and overcoming negative sentiments. Ultimately, we created a fun, inclusive, and safe event, and I am so proud of how everyone on my committee supported each other through it all.

This spring, Student Life has organized more events in the first term alone versus all of the fall, and we are ramping up for April Foolery with 10+ club collaborations. We also achieved even more big wins: we are planning the return of two more beloved traditions: Closing Bell and Formal.

I am most proud of being the Student Life Chair because I have had the chance to learn from a wonderful breadth of classmates, SOM leadership, and school administrators. I work with a diverse set of people who challenge me to think about what community means for every SOMer and how together we can better serve SOM. This role has taught me to become a stronger communicator and negotiator, enabled me to know when to stand up for myself and my peers, and humbled me to step back when other voices and perspectives should be heard.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I helped establish the India Chapter of the Professional Women’s Network for State Street while I was an expat in Hyderabad. We started out with small, office-specific events; I took the initiative to plan the first India-wide program because I believed we needed to scale our efforts and build a more robust pipeline of local chapter leaders. I presented a business case to our sponsors, the India CEO and COO.

Once approved, I recruited business leaders and applicants and launched an “Internal Consulting Initiative.” Over three months, three teams of female associates ranging from entry to VP levels researched business-unit-specific issues and brainstormed solutions. Their efforts culminated in presentations to the India CEO and COO. The management team was so excited by the presentations that they established two working groups to implement the recommendations and invited the participants to be a part of the efforts.

This was the first time in my career where I truly felt like I was creating meaningful impact beyond the typical workflow. Furthermore, I learned how to unite a group of very different people consisting of expats from various countries and locals from different states under the common goal of women’s empowerment, a cause I am very passionate about.

Why did you choose this business school? SOM stood out to me because everyone I interacted with during the application process highlighted their commitment to building up the SOM community. There were several consistent themes across people’s experiences that I found unique to SOM. Most notably, the desire to give back and take leadership roles in that process from day one deeply resonated with me. “And society” is not just a part of SOM’s mission statement, “Educating Leaders for Business and Society,” or someone’s future career path. It is the ethos that drives every student to think critically about the impact they seek to create at SOM and beyond.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Kate Cooney, Professor of Social Enterprise and Management, has been such an integral part of my SOM experience. I have taken three amazing classes with her: Urban Poverty & Economic Development, Managing Social Enterprises, and Inclusive Economic Development Lab. These classes have challenged me to re-examine the relationship between corporations, people, and local economies; these courses asked me how I can meaningfully and effectively work with local communities to ensure inclusive growth; and ensured that I apply academic theory through collaborations with the City of New Haven.

Professor Cooney is a unique asset to Yale through her work with her CitySCOPE podcast (which I have the pleasure of participating in this semester) and broader efforts to support economic development initiatives with the City of New Haven.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? April Foolery is a month-long celebration of the SOM community. As Student Life Chair, I have the honor of overseeing this tradition and creating a month’s worth of programming for my fellow SOMers. The planning process kicks off right when we return from winter break in January. Here, I work with a myriad of stakeholders, including the administration, club leaders, Student Government, and external vendors, to brainstorm, plan, and execute April Foolery. This is a chance for us to be as creative as possible, and some of the events I’m looking forward to are Ikebana with Japan Club, Skate Night with Black Business Alliance, and the Earth Week Raffle.

April Foolery brings out the best of our community: we support each other, share a genuine excitement to learn about different cultures and perspectives, and have so much fun at every event.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? From the academic standpoint, I could have pushed myself to venture outside the SOM bubble more and take classes from other Yale schools. Those who do consistently highlight how interesting it is to expose themselves to different ways of thinking and how these courses have shaped them into more well-rounded individuals. SOM is unique because it is so interconnected with the broader university, and this offers students an elevated and enriching academic experience. Thankfully, there are so many amazing classes and professors at SOM, where I have learned so much and been exposed to a wide range of ideas and thought leadership.

What is the biggest myth about your school? SOM is commonly known as the “social impact” school. There are some amazing ways that I do see this emerge, particularly through the student body. Students are passionate about climate change, environmental justice, sustainable business, impact investing, and racial equity. These interests manifest in the initiatives that students launch, clubs that are formed and sustained, and the types of internships and jobs people recruit for.

On the other hand, I do believe that the school must continue to explore how it can truly integrate the mission of “Business and Society” across all aspects of SOM. For example, what does “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” mean in the core and elective curriculums? How do we foster spaces for people to express their beliefs authentically without fear of rejection? How can we apply a critical lens on a capitalist system that continues to exacerbate racial and social inequities? These are discussions I have engaged in with a variety of peers and groups, and I believe the school can take a more active approach on elevating and prioritizing these discussions to effect positive change.

What surprised you the most about business school? Business school intimidated me with its networking aspect. In the past, I struggled with networking and feared facing the same challenge throughout my b-school experience. Thankfully, SOM taught me the networking fundamentals with the support of the professional clubs and Career Development Office. More importantly, SOM’s community prioritizes meaningful relationship building. In coffee chats and other 1:1 interactions, I feel the mutual desire to move deeper than the surface level “where did you work before school” and “what do you want to recruit for” questions. In addition to these 1:1 opportunities, SOM has so many wonderful student-led forums such as Voices, Ask Me Anything panels, and mentorship circles that encourage students to be vulnerable and exchanges stories with peers they might not have the opportunity to engage with through a 1:1 interaction.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I relied on a variety of professional and personal connections for feedback. In diversifying my feedback sources, I gained clarity on how other people perceived my strengths and weaknesses in different contexts. Streamlining the feedback to define myself and my applications was an introspective process that forced me to think about what I genuinely had to offer and gain from the schools I applied to.

Specifically with SOM, the best advice I received was on the challenging essay prompt: “What is your biggest commitment and why?”. I had to explain how you have defined and honored that commitment up to this point, how you will continue that commitment during your time at SOM, and how you envision carrying it forward post-MBA.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jenna Starr is my first year Student Life counterpart. I have had the honor and pleasure of working with her to overcome ever-changing COVID guidelines and situations and execute our vision for community building at SOM. Her resilience, entrepreneurship, and leadership make her stand out among our peers. She goes out of her way to make sure people feel comfortable and trust that she has their best interests in mind, and she always brightens up every space she enters and puts a smile on everyone’s faces.

Beyond Student Life, Jenna is passionate about sustainability and animals. Prior to business school, she worked in the development space and is eager to explore sustainable business and social impact while at SOM. I am so happy I get to watch her star continue to rise during her time here and in her future career.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad was a big source of inspiration for me. He believes that we never stop learning, and we should actively seek opportunities to grow our breadth of knowledge. He pursued a career in medicine because he believed that was how he could continue learning for the rest of his life. He challenged me to think critically about how I could do the same. As a former history major, I was constantly learning on the job, but I also felt like I was always playing catch-up on every team I joined. While I knew I wanted to stay in the world of business, I could not clearly define my career trajectory. Pairing what my father instilled in me and understanding the need to develop foundational business skills and a stronger career vision, I decided to apply to business school.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

1. Manage a global team, and work outside the US. The two years I spent working as an expat in India also inspired me to go to business school, because I wanted to learn how to effectively manage a global organization and work with people from numerous cultural backgrounds. Through SOM’s Global Virtual Teams and the Global Network for Advanced Management, I have had wonderful opportunities to work with and manage peers in a global setting. I’d like to expand on these experiences, push myself further out of my comfort zone, and deepen my leadership and management skills.

2. Incorporate entrepreneurship throughout my career. SOM has taught me that entrepreneurship doesn’t have to mean launching your own startup. Instead, I am exploring how I can bring this mindset into my future career as a management consultant, which is a very well-established industry in the U.S. This could mean starting a new office, entering a new country, launching a new function, or something still undefined.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? For me, as for many of us, the pandemic affected my view on work-life balance. I saw how blurred the lines between my personal and professional lives became, and as I look towards my future career, I believe I will need to be more intentional about establishing boundaries between the two. Furthermore, the pandemic underscored how thoughtful I need to be about establishing relationships, building trust, and creating community throughout my career.

What made Alice such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Alice is a second-year student in the MBA program at the Yale School of Management and strongly exhibits the qualities outlined for this special recognition.

In addition to being active in clubs and serving as an Admissions Interviewer, Alice is also the Student Life Chair for Student Government. It is through this last role that I have had the pleasure of working with her most closely. In this leadership position, Alice oversees numerous subcommittees and organizes student programs for the entire student body at Yale SOM. She has occupied this role with an incredible level of enthusiasm and creativity, demonstrating a unique ability to balance the needs of the student body while being mindful and respectful of the policies and procedures in place with regard to the pandemic.

Alice is extremely caring and deeply committed to the student experience at SOM. She works tirelessly to see all the projects and initiatives through to fruition, particularly with the “Spirit Week” planned the week before the annual Yale-Harvard football game this year. She collaborates well with the many different student groups and departments.

Alice is dedicated to every project she is involved with and does a wonderful job of managing expectations and deliverables. She is welcoming, inclusive, and hardworking—a true leader at Yale SOM, and someone I am thrilled to recommend for this award.”

Rebecca Udler
Managing Director of Academic Affairs and Student Life
Yale School of Management


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