Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Yina Sun, Harvard Business School

Yina Sun

Harvard Business School

“My passion is in bringing people together to advance clean energy at scale.”

Hometown: Bar Harbor, Maine

Fun Fact About Yourself: By the time I was 10 years old, my family and I had moved across three continents — from Qingdao, China to Bielefeld, Germany, to Maine, United States. One could say my parents prepared me for the MBA travel culture at an early age.

Undergraduate School and Major: UNC Chapel Hill – Environmental Science (Quantitative Energy Systems), Economics;  JD/MBA at Stanford Law School and Harvard Business School

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Project Manager, M&A at NextEra Energy

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. My first impression of HBS students is that everyone is enthusiastic to connect. Similarly, people are also quick to come together and mobilize, whether it’s organizing a trip, hosting virtual happy hours, or forming new clubs. In this vein, my best HBS story so far is when I went on a trip with four other admits to Peru. I was initially going to Peru with a friend over my birthday weekend; however, my friend had to cancel her travels last-minute. A group of HBS students posted their plans to travel to Peru during the same weekend and I reached out. They immediately welcomed me to their group and I ended up having one of my best birthdays, in Machu Picchu, with them.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? Beyond learning from peers of different backgrounds and perspectives, I love that the case method simulates business environments, especially decision-making at leadership levels. Learning how to think on your feet, speak with confidence, engage others, and synthesize differing information and opposing viewpoints are integral aspects to being a good leader. I think the case method effectively teaches both what you want to say and how you say it.

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? HBS’s class size was a key factor in my decision. Our class is roughly 1,000 students and it encompasses people from vastly different industries, geographies, educational, and personal backgrounds. HBS’s size enables it to have a robust cohort where I could find pockets of any community I wanted to, whether professional or personal.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Harvard Business School? Given my passion for clean energy, I am most excited about the Energy & Environment Club. A key motivation behind my desire to pursue an MBA was to broaden my exposure to different verticals within the energy space. I am excited to meet classmates with similar passions and learn from their experiences.

When you think of Harvard Business School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Intentional. Every aspect of the HBS programming feels intentional, from the curated ~90-microcosm sections, to the set RC curriculum, to the case method – it is clear that HBS has taken the care, time, and experience to build a program that is targeted to supporting and growing leaders. The HBS community of students are also intentional – they are targeted in their passions and goals and continuously aspire to push themselves and their industries.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Working to develop the two largest solar energy projects in New England and originating, what was at the time, the largest solar + energy storage deal in Northeast America. Together, these projects total over half a billion in CAPEX and generate enough renewable energy to power over 70,000 homes. The development life of a utility-scale solar project takes 3-4 years and is a true multi-disciplinary team effort that spans groups across engineering, operations, finance, legal, and construction. The two projects in New England were built in my home state of Maine. Visiting the project sites and seeing the operating solar infrastructure was a meaningful full circle for me, as growing up in Maine was a key influence to my work in energy and sustainability.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I wanted to pursue an MBA to round out my business skills and broaden my exposure to different verticals within the energy industry. Coming from a STEM background in undergrad, I am looking forward to taking classes in areas such as finance, operations, and leadership. Post-MBA, I plan to continue working in the energy industry and want to spend my time as a JD/MBA exploring both the legal and business worlds in this space.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Not exactly read, watched, or listened, but what really helped me as a prospective MBA was speaking with alumni that had graduated for several years. I spoke to people who were 3-10 years post-MBA and found that in addition to providing feedback on their 2-year MBA experience, they were able to reflect more broadly on their time in business school and the impact it has made in their careers in the medium-long term.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB, Wharton, Booth

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Harvard Business School’s MBA program? Make sure your application is cohesive and specific. Cohesive in the sense that your passions and aspirations are consistently conveyed and tied together across your personal, educational, and professional backgrounds. It should be easy for Admissions to understand what drives you, your goals for the future, and why an MBA at HBS is best fit for achieving your goals. Additionally, make sure you are providing specific details of your contributions in your job and extracurricular activities. Highlight both your successes and the actions you took in achieving your outcomes.


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