Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Yağız Yıldız, Harvard Business School

Yağız Yıldız

Harvard Business School

“Always ready to play devil’s advocate to improve an innovative idea.”

Hometown: Bursa, Turkey

Fun Fact About Yourself: I hold 44 granted US patents.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Dell Technologies, Product Manager

What has been your first impression of the Harvard Business School MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Harvard Business School story so far. The school did a fantastic job introducing new admits to alums and current students. I was shocked by everybody’s willingness to take time out of their day to meet me and share their experiences and thoughts; it already feels like I have a sizeable HBS network. What struck me the most with everyone I’ve met so far was how well-structured and articulated their thoughts were. I attribute this to the case method where they had to defend their ideas in front of an entire classroom every day for two years.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? So many things about the case method mimic work life. The pace of the discussion simulates the fast-paced business environment we are currently living in. Actively listening while forming our thoughts is an art that will be useful in the boardroom discussions down the road. The 90+ people in the sections, all from different backgrounds and industries, genuinely exemplify the diverse business landscape where the best ideas come to fruition. The open-endedness of the cases and the fact that there are no right or wrong answers prepare us for the ambiguity and unknowns we will face as leaders in the future.

Aside from your classmates and cases, what was the key part of Harvard Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As an aspiring global business leader, the footprint of the school I would attend was a key contributor to my decision-making process. HBS Global Research Centers, with nine primary and many more satellite offices around the globe, piqued my interest early in my school research process. I got in touch with the Middle East and North Africa research center in Istanbul. I learned how many new cases they were developing and how well the faculty was involved and stayed in touch with the latest advancements in the area. Knowing all of these made me feel confident that the education I would be getting at HBS would have a global perspective, and I would get an understanding of the macro trends around the world.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Harvard Business School? I’m super passionate about wellness technology and excited to get involved with the wellness and healthcare clubs to deepen my industry knowledge and expand my network by taking advantage of various events organized by these clubs.

When you think of Harvard Business School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Community is the first word that comes to mind. As I mentioned earlier, I was amazed by the network I was able to build even before starting school, and I’ve only met a fraction of my classmates so far. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the class and expand that network during my time at the school.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was lucky enough to have been involved in various high-tech projects. Of all the products, concepts, and features I worked on, I am the proudest of Concept ORI, Dell’s first foldable PC system. I was the lead engineer for a global team of 20 engineers, tasked to work with the company supplying the new foldable panel. Since we only had one shot at succeeding, I had to design the system with various contingencies by anticipating what could go wrong. The initial system bring-up was nothing short of a movie, but we came through by overcoming numerous technical challenges and delivering the concept.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? During the first seven years of my career, I was exposed to various engineering problems, which helped me build a solid technical foundation. However, I knew that to become the business leader I aim to be, I needed exposure to various business problems and knowledge. MBA became an obvious choice when I realized that in just two years, through the 500+ cases we will read at HBS, I could build a business foundation that would have otherwise taken me many years.

I am very interested in designing new ways technology can help people achieve optimal wellness, thus improving the human experience. After graduation, I want to become an operator at a small wellness technology company or get involved with similar companies through venture investment.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Ride of a Lifetime from Bob Iger is a great book I would highly recommend to anybody interested in business. During his tenure as a COO and CEO, he faced various challenges, including ones from his board. He persevered by compartmentalizing and focusing on what he could control. I also enjoyed reading about how he transformed Disney from a theme park giant to one of the biggest streaming providers through various acquisitions and bold business decisions.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford, MIT, Booth, and Wharton.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Harvard Business School’s MBA program? I would recommend that all applicants first believe in themselves and don’t write themselves off. The first requirement of gaining admission is applying.  The second piece of advice is to think beyond GMAT and GPA. We are more than numbers and have unique voices and stories that truly matter. Make sure to have that story pop out through your voice in your application. Surround yourself with family, friends, mentors, and coworkers who believe in you and keep you motivated along the way. It is a very long and stressful process; you can’t go through it alone.


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