“Pure Joy”

February 20, 2012

Question: What does the phrase “pure joy” describe?

(a) a musical comedy,

(b) PE/VC deal simulations,

(c) an Asia trip with fellow SOMers, or

(d) all of the above.

Answer: (d). Read on to find out why.

Musical comedy. In December, I wrote about my admiration of people whose talent spans many fields. I was reminded of why I admire my classmates when they displayed their skills at our annual “Star Search” talent show. In addition to Bhangra, guitar, stand-up comedy, etc., there was also acting/singing/dancing in a 17-minute musical comedy video that my classmate and I wrote and produced. Thrown together in just a few days, the video featured caricatures of some prominent Yale SOM personalities and rewrites of songs from West Side Story, Aida, and Wicked. Reactions? “A delight”, “perfectly sums up why I chose Yale SOM”, and, from a non-SOMer, “pure joy”.

One of the personalities we caricatured was Dean Snyder, whom we joked was such an avid fan of golf that we hadn’t seen him at all. That's not completely true. He is fond of golf. And yes, he’s spent much of his first year at Yale strengthening his relationships with off-campus stakeholders, as well as laying the foundations of his Global Network for Advanced Management. But just a couple weeks prior to the talent show I had joined the Dean in three small group meals: a reception at his home for his Diversity Advisory Group, another reception at his home with Student Government, and a breakfast in his office with a hodgepodge of randomly-selected students. We reflected on the life and legacy of MLK Jr., explored the Dean’s crystallizing vision for taking Yale SOM to the next level, and brainstormed ways that students and administrators could work together.

Class. Of course, in between all of this I’ve had a diverse set of academic experiences. In one class, I have been working with a team to develop a commercialization strategy for a NYC-based startup client. In a class on behavioral economics, we conversed with the director of design at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about her unique opportunity to help consumers understand their financial decisions (the New York Times just dedicated today’s editorial to the work). In yet another class, I’ve been regularly treated to a bevy of accomplished current and former CEOs, politicians, journalists, etc. to discuss leadership topics spanning sectors. And in a class on venture capital and private equity investments run by the former president & CEO of JPMorgan Capital -- we’ve participated in simulations of several deals. On one deal my team saved the day by "threading the needle" to round out a syndicate of investors; in another one my team was outbid. I guess you can't (or shouldn't?) win all the deals, but you can learn from all of them. Indeed, this is the single most-integrative class I've taken at Yale: the work on each deal encompasses macroeconomic and industry research, competitive analysis, financial modeling, deal structuring, and negotiations. At the end of each deal we’re given feedback from the professor as well as personalized, anonymous feedback from our peers.

Travel. Tomorrow I’m jetting off to hike and meditate in Nepal. Afterwards, I'll join up with a professor to help lead his International Experience trip in Bangladesh and Vietnam. The trip is focused on economic development, so we’ll have a nice mix of conversations with leaders across sectors as well as a number of field visits. We’ll also find time to visit some museums, explore markets, and meet with alumni. Immediately afterwards most of the group will take a quick trip up to Halong Bay off of Northern Vietnam for kayaking, karsts, and caves.

About the author

Eddie Thai