IESE Alumni Footprint Series, An Interview with Yanyan Yue (China)

Supporting IESE at an MBA info session in Shanghai


Name: Yanyan Yue

Year of Graduation: 2018

Nationality: China

Country of Residence: Switzerland

Current Employer: Novartis


My story

I grew up in a small village in China. Before going to university, the farthest place I went to was the center of the town that I lived, around 20km from my home. Most people in that town lived on farming, and a few worked in factories. Going abroad was something that I only heard about in stories.

In my university, although I heard a few people talk about studying abroad, I could do nothing but dream about their life. After graduating from university, it was by chance that I learnt there is such a thing called “MBA” – which people can only apply for after having a few years’ working experience. I was enlightened because this time, I could finance my studies with my own savings. I did more research and found that it was exactly what I needed – to be able to improve my business skills after I have more clarity on what I was lacking.

Coming to IESE was a coincidence. In the beginning, I was mainly investigating business schools in the United States. In an MBA info session, I heard of IESE for the first time and realized it was a very good business school. I was inspired by the experiences of alumni who changed their career (function, industry or geography) through IESE. At that time, I was thinking about changing from consulting to healthcare industry and exploring some opportunities outside China. IESE was an ideal school for me.

Supporting IESE at an MBA info session in Shanghai

Every good B-school is a great platform to connect MBA candidates with their dream companies. What makes IESE stand out in my mind is its mission to develop leaders who strive to have a deep, positive and lasting impact on people, companies and society through professional excellence, integrity and spirit of service. IESE is very serious about its mission. You will see it clearly from its attitude towards academic study – people must read and prepare the cases before going to class; attendance is strictly recorded; latecomers are not allowed in… This process ensures that after two years, people do not just get a prestigious MBA brand on their CV but also transforms into a new self from inside out.

I am very grateful for my experience at IESE. It not only brought me to one of the great pharma companies – Novartis, and allowed me and my family to live in different countries, most importantly, I became more confident to express my opinion in front of people. I also become clearer on what is most important in my life – time, family and social responsibility.

My husband has a Master degree from China, and he had always said he is done with school life. Around 4 months after my graduation, inspired by my change, he told me one day, “I want to do an MBA in IESE as well.” Now he has started his MBA journey in IESE this September. I truly believe it will be two enriching and colorful years ahead of him, and a changed life after that.

My advice for students and applicants

IESE is famous for its heavy academic workload and colorful life in Barcelona. Many people “complain” that they don’t have time to sleep. Truly, if I can summarize student life in IESE, I would say “IESE tries its best to offer MBA candidates everything that they might need.” By everything, I mean the sum of everyone’s needs. One might need to improve their business skill; one might need to expand their network; one might need to experience life in Barcelona or in Europe. So even if one doesn’t sleep at all, he or she would never be able to leverage everything that IESE offers. So students have to be very clear about what he really needs and try to allocate the time wisely.

I would suggest that current students aim at becoming a better self always. Stopping your career for 19 months is a big investment, not only in terms of money, but in terms of time. If you believe that participating in class discussions can help you to practice your strategic thinking and develop efficient and confident communication (which I do believe), then do it. If you think that talking with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds can make you understand the world and embrace differences better, then do it. If you believe the social activities can help you become more comfortable to deal with people, then do it. Always bear in mind that among the various opportunities IESE offers, which are the ones that you need and go for it.

If you are still uncertain about what career path you want to take in the future, congratulations! That means there is a chance for you to discover a totally new world that you never knew about. Many people are trapped in their own world prior their MBA, and have limited knowledge about the world beyond that. In IESE, you will be exposed to all types of business and all kinds of functions. You will probably find something that is interesting enough and suits you well. If you already know where you want to go, congratulations too! You will save a large amount of time exploring and can focus on preparing yourself for your next move.

Enjoy the life in Barcelona and be ready to welcome a new you after IESE!

Yanyan and her team in IESE

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Camille Chow View more

Associate Director, Admissions (MBA '16)

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