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The Diversity of the Yale SOM Elective Classroom

Last week, as elective classes got underway, Senior Associate Deans David Bach and Anjani Jain emailed the second-year MBA Class of 2016 with a message about the variety of students that they would encounter in the classroom this year.

To the MBA Class of 2016:

As you get ready for the resumption of classes tomorrow, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the extraordinary diversity of students you will encounter in the electives.

Of course you remember from your first year how diverse our MBA student population is in terms of backgrounds, experiences, and perspective. During the electives phase, classroom diversity is further augmented by four student populations: returning Silver Scholars, incoming exchange students, Yale students from outside of SOM, and of course our Master of Advanced Management students. Allow us to share some information about each of these groups.

Silver Scholars, as you know, usually join SOM’s MBA program straight out of college for the first-year curriculum. They then go off and work for a year or longer before returning to complete their SOM education with a year of electives. The Silver Scholars program is highly selective, and we have a terrific group of Silver Scholars returning to SOM this fall. After successfully completing the core, these students spent between one and four years working at top firms including McKinsey in Singapore, Citi in Hong Kong, EMC in Boston, and LegalZoom in San Francisco.

We are also joined this fall by 10 exchange students from IESE Business School in Barcelona, HEC in Paris, and Tsinghua University in Beijing. While these students join us in Evans Hall, SOM students are studying on their campuses.

Every year the number of Yale students from outside of SOM—both graduate students and (advanced) undergraduates—who take our electives increases. Last year we recorded just over 1,000 individual non-SOM registrations for our courses (this number has doubled in the last four years and includes students in the Foundational Courses specifically designed for non-SOM students). These students from professional schools such as Forestry & Environmental Studies, Global Affairs, Law, Public Health, and Engineering, as well as from Yale College, contribute valuable additional perspectives and skillsets to our discussions in Evans. As Kyle Jensen, our Associate Dean for Entrepreneurship, often remarks, few if any successful businesses get started by teams of only MBAs.

Last but not least, we couldn’t be happier about this year’s Master of Advanced Management (MAM) class. The 63 students of the fourth class of this unique program come from 34 different countries including South Africa, Ghana, the Philippines, Indonesia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Peru. These students have earned their MBAs at 20 different Global Network schools such as Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, IE Business School, University College Dublin, University of Cape Town, Lagos Business School, EGADE Business School, National University of Singapore, and Fudan University. Forty-one percent of them obtained their MBAs in countries other than their home country. All have substantial work experience at firms ranging from multinationals including Amazon, Infosys, UBS, CEMEX, Huawei, and Deloitte to more “exotic” employers such as the Panama Canal Authority, the Shenzhen Guan Shanyue Art Museum, and the Kuwait Investment Authority.

Besides rounding out our student body in terms of countries and regions, MAMs also contribute a unique academic perspective that stems from having studied at the MBA level in these countries. MBA training in Israel stresses startups, most MBA programs in Latin America emphasize the role of family businesses, and programs in Korea and China focus very much on the needs of, respectively, Chaebols and State-Owned Enterprises. Familiarizing yourselves with your MAM peers’ way of looking at business and management and learning from their knowledge of the regions they have worked in will be critical enablers of the truly global perspective that many recruiters look for.

We are confident that because of the school’s efforts to connect with Yale and to connect globally, the typical SOM elective classroom is more diverse in terms of backgrounds and perspectives than that of any of our U.S. peer schools. This diversity is not an end in itself, however, but rather the means through which you can advance yourselves as leaders for business and society. We urge you to reach out to and engage with the new faces joining us for the electives. That’s the best way to benefit from everything this year has to offer.

David Bach
Senior Associate Dean for Executive MBA and Global Programs

Anjani Jain
Senior Associate Dean for the MBA Program