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Introducing Yale SOM’s New Global Network Ambassador

We sat down with Ariana Yuen ’19 to talk about her new role as Yale SOM's second Global Network ambassador and her goals for her time at SOM.

Tell me about your priorities as a Global Network Ambassador.

My priority is to focus on connecting the dots between where students can find value in the Global Network and work on projects that are bite-sized platforms for engagement between SOM students and the network. Given how inundated students are every day with all the activities and resources available, I want to develop initiatives that set up students to not only be aware of the value of the network during their years on campus, but position it as a tremendous resource to utilize beyond their years SOM. One day, the students and alumni of other Global Network schools should be just as much of a resource to us as our SOM alumni.

The Global Programs team does a great job of promoting what’s out there and the activities that are available to participate in—like Global Virtual Teams, exchanges, and Global Network Weeks—but to get my fellow classmates excited, I want to take a step back and understand what it is that they need. I want to spend more time just getting to know what my peers want out of their two years and where incentives align between their career interests and what the Global Network can offer them. That’s what I want to do as ambassador: how can I help promote the Global Network’s initiatives that align to students’ needs? And I think it has to start with anecdotes and stories that illustrate the value of the network. Once we have a way to tell those stories and show it to our peers, I think the excitement and participation in the network will continue to grow.

As a Yale SOM student, when motivated you came here? What’s attractive about the Global Network to you?

I didn’t come to SOM to invest in a short-term goal of getting into a particular industry or job. I saw it more as a unique opportunity to enrich my personal and professional life in the long term. Post-SOM, I’m targeting a career in international trade, and specifically want to incubate a forest-based products company that works with smallholder farmers to source non-timber forest products like honey, resins, gums, and spices, manufacture, package, brand, and export them. I wanted to be at a school that was very global and could set me up for a global career, both in terms of resources and networks.

When I saw that third objective of the school, which was to be the most global U.S.-based business school, it really resonated with me. Initially, I wasn’t sure how SOM, with it’s relatively smaller alumni base, was going to achieve this. But when I read about the Global Network, I had this ah-ha moment: the Global Network was the answer. I think one of the hallmarks of SOM is that it’s a very collaborative culture, and the spirit of the Global Network really reinforces that. You go out into the world and you don’t just have a network of one school. You have dozens more. For me, that was super powerful.

Given my career aspirations, I’m personally excited about better understanding international trade and marketing through my Global Network peers. I want to do culturally focused interviews and understand what the food trends are in different countries. For example, if I’m going to source tons of honey from Ethiopia, which market will Ethiopian honey have a comparative advantage of in the international market? Personally, I see a very practical level to the network for my career goals.

How do you get your peers excited about how to engage with the Global Network during their time here?

In general, my approach will be to first understand what they are looking to get out of their business school experience, their career goals, and then identify how the network can help. I think one of the easiest ways to get people to see the value in something is to actually deliver value to them. For example, say one of the ambassadors has peers who are really interested in entrepreneurship in China. And perhaps another is interested in exploring the market feasibility for their product in West Africa. To be able to help them facilitate that relationship is an immediate opportunity to share that value, and vice versa. I think it is valuable to share the stories of the students who have had life-changing or just perspective-changing moments through the network.

I also think having meaningful, one-to-one conversations is important because building even just one connection with one other person at a different school in the Global Network will be valuable, both now and after graduation.

How are you going to connect with these other schools? Have you already reached out to some of your potential counterparts? What kind of conversations are you guys having or planning to have?

I’ve joined TWIC, which will be the platform to connect all of the students (and alumni!) in the Global Network—it is being rolled out to students in phases now. Students taking Global Network Courses, going on Global Network Weeks or participating in the Global Network Investment Competition have already been enrolled, and the platform also will be used for the Global Virtual Teams program. But in addition the platform will allow students to connect across schools based on shared interests, either professional or social, opening up ways beyond courses to connect with our peers at other Global Network Schools.

I am just starting my first project with other ambassadors from other Global Network schools, and I’m excited to continue to get to know more of them, hear their stories, and learn why they’re passionate about the Global Network. It’s our roles as ambassadors to really source and share the feedback and the insights that we’re getting from our classmates to make sure that we can do all that we can to make it a richer network for all of our fellow peers.