2022 MBA To Watch: Yanni Sun, CEIBS

Yanni Sun

China Europe International Business School

“Dynamic, proactive, empathetic French speaking HR, always willing to provide help.”

Hometown: Mohe, northernmost town of China

Fun fact about yourself: Good at singing and a certificated Chinese Language Teacher by IPA (International Profession Association)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Master Degree of Strategic Human Resources Management, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Carrefour (China), HRBP for Merchandise Department

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? IASO Biotherapeutics, HRBP for R&D and Market Access Department, Shanghai

IASO Bio is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of novel cell therapies for oncology and autoimmune diseases.

Where will you be working after graduation? UNISOC, HRBP for Department of Industrial Electronic

UNISOC, a leading fabless semiconductor company. Is one of the worldwide handful chip design companies that have all-scenarios communication technologies supporting 2G/3G/4G/5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, TV, satellite communication, etc.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Vice President of Student Ambassadors

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During a Student Reception Event on December 12, 2020, I served as official live streamer and got 3,529 viewers as well as 210,000 likes online through our WeChat video account, a window for applicants to learn more about CEIBS. This was the first time that CEIBS hosted a campus tour by live streaming due to the pandemic situation.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? (And why?)

During my pre-MBA experience, after Carrefour China had been acquired by Suning Group, I took the Carrefour B2B Center from 0 to 1 – set up organizational structures for head office and regional offices, headhunted 72 talents for 21 cities in eight months, established bonus rules for sales staff, and allocated part-time operations staff according to business needs. This experience, to me, was very valuable, since it is difficult for HR to integrate new cultures after an M&A. I also needed to build a new business unit from scratch with new standards and performance appraisal mechanisms. I led (and completed) this project before joining CEIBS and now this BU is fully expanding, so I am really proud of this achievement.

Why did you choose this business school? CEIBS has both global breadth and China depth. For several of the core courses, we have one foreign and one Chinese professor. We also have an Integrated China Strategy Project as well as China modules for us to discover the China market in different industries; the former forms us the mindset of consulting and problem solving in a specified business arena, whereas the latter give us more opportunities to visit companies and do case studies on site in different cities in China.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Michelle Zheng. She is an assistant professor of organizational behavior and her research focuses on trust and conflict management. I took her core course about organizational behavior and leadership journey, and elective course on managerial decision making across boundaries. First of all, the leadership she showed during the lectures was impressive enough for us to digest what exactly authentic leadership is. Secondly, the cases and exercises she used were comprehensive enough for us to understand the importance of trust as well as positive conflicts. Last but not least, she was very interactive with us in her spare time. She is like a friend to us and we keep very good contact and keep exchanging HR-related topics even after I have finished taking her courses.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Each year, the Social Impact Club organizes online teaching sessions for children in rural area. During two months, we provide eights sessions on different topics, communicate with the children, and open their eyes to different cultures. I participated last year and received letters from children. This event shows CEIBS’ emphasis on social responsibility. Actually, CEIBS publishes also a CSR report every year and all alumni make great contributions to influencing and improving social responsibility. For us, social responsibility is not only the duty of CEIBS, but also the duty of each alumni member.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would apply for an exchange to some English-speaking countries. Although I already have four years of overseas experience in France and have a deep understanding of European culture and French society, I still have a lack of knowledge about American culture, for example. But given the pandemic situation, I didn’t apply for an exchange, which I regret a little.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Before joining CEIBS, I knew that the Integrated China Strategy Project was an immersive case study about the China market, but later I found that it was more than a case study or a company visit – it is a real consulting project during which we spent four months communicating with different stakeholders such as clients, target customers, professors, and employees to provide a market analysis or even business plan to a particular company. Our team delivered a deep analysis of the European market, a financial forecast, and an organization chart design for a data solutions company aiming to establish a footprint in Europe.

What surprised you the most about business school? The workload. I didn’t know that we would have so many assignments and presentations to deliver. Especially in terms 1 and 2, we had an unforgettable experience.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose?

I contacted the admission office once a month to see if the results of my application had been announced. I was offered a spot as a student in the next batch at first, but with my strong motivation, I made it to the current batch. Also, the cross-culture communication skills I had developed benefitted me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Woody Yang Liuhan. As the President of the Finance and Investment Club, he is very professional and has launched many initiatives. He shared accounting tutorials with classmates, held the first CEIBS MBA Annual Investment Forum, and worked out a comprehensive guide to China’s financial market. All these contributions helped us a lot along the MBA and he has a very good reputation amongst our three batches.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Elsa Simon. She was my mentor during my internship in Philips France in the first year of my Masters in 2014. She was the Learning & Development Director at Philips France, but after that she became an entrepreneur and opened her own firm. She taught me a lot during my first internship in HR management and the wisdom as well as charisma she has influenced me a lot. That is also the reason why I decided to stick to HR even after my MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The first one is to discover a new industry, pharmaceutical or high tech. I will make it happen soon since I will work for UNISOC in the chip and sensor industry. My second career wish is to become a certificated coach. Nowadays, coaching is widely-used in professional situations in China and the demand for certificated coaches is rising. Coaching skills are not only useful to develop employees’ talent in work areas such as HR, but also are helpful for even daily communication with family and friends.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? Back to the two industries that I wish to join after MBA: The pharmaceutical sector has boomed since Covid-19 and more talent wish to enter this field. Since the start of the pandemic, the high tech industry has grown as a result of work from home and study from home and the need for IoT and electronic devices. Thus, my choice of industry depends a lot on pandemic needs.

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

“Yanni is definitely an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022. She is the only student with a degree in HRM as well as HRM professional experience. This makes her stand out in my organizational behavior course. She actively engaged in the class discussion. Her insights were often sharp and inspiring, which significantly enhanced the quality of the class discussion. With her input, drawn from her experience and philosophy in motivating employees and designing incentives, my teaching became easy. She was also devoted in experiential exercises, striving to create a real learning experience for her peers. In addition, she exhibited leadership in guiding her team in group assignments, organizing company visits, and interviewing corporate executives.

More important, Yanni is a person with a big heart. Given her HRM knowledge and expertise, she provided mock interviews for her peers and provided guidance for their salary negotiation. She helped her classmates who own family business in terms of campus recruitment, C&B management, and employment form design, etc. She also helped professors in terms of their research.

Because of her generosity, diligence, and charisma, she is well liked by her peers and faculty members. I trust without doubts that she is on the way to becoming a charismatic leader in her further career.”

Professor Michelle Xue Zheng
Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior
Co-Director of Leadership Development Program


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