Master of Advanced Management Program Marks Fifth Anniversary of Inaugural Class

By Matthew O’Rourke

When Sojung Lee ’13 came to the Yale School of Management, she embarked on her third university degree, at her third university, in her third country of study. Originally from South Korea, Lee had first learned about Yale SOM’s new degree program, the Master of Advanced Management (MAM), and its goal to educate leaders who could work seamlessly across borders as she was completing her MBA in Shanghai at Fudan University’s School of Management.

Lee became one of 20 students in the inaugural class of the MAM program. Joining the pioneering Class of 2013—not just becoming part of a new program but receiving a brand-new degree—was a leap into the unknown for her, but that’s exactly what she wanted.

“Korea is very traditional, with many people staying in the same place and following many of the same Asian customs,” Lee said. “When I was in Shanghai [at Fudan University], it was much more international, a much more diverse living environment.” The MAM was a chance to develop an even more global perspective. “I thought, ‘Why not just try?’ and I applied for it. It was risky, but I always wanted to try something new.”

That risk paid off for Lee, now working as an executive director at IBM Asia Pacific in Singapore after an earlier stint in the company’s headquarters in Armonk, New York. Lee says that the MAM experience provided her with new ways to approach problems from a variety of perspectives—both strategically and culturally.

“I wanted to learn a different perspective. A different way of thinking. A different way of talking,” she said of her decision to join the MAM program. “Even when we approach problems, we all came at the problems from very different angles. Where I come from, professors give lectures. Here, you need to participate, and to do that, you need to be prepared.”

A Program for Creating Leaders Across Borders

The MAM program brings exceptionally talented MBA graduates from schools in the Global Network for Advanced Management to Yale for an additional year of study, with the goal of giving them the knowledge, skills, and network to become leaders with the ability to take on the biggest questions facing business and society around the world.

“The program is anchored on Yale SOM’s mission to educate leaders for business and society but with a distinctive global character,” explains Deputy Dean David Bach, who has led the program since its inception in 2012. “Other business schools have globalized by just attracting more talent from abroad to their MBA programs. The MAM rests on a more innovative value proposition. We identify and recruit some of the most promising future leaders from top non-U.S. business schools and give them access to the unmatched resources at Yale. At the same time, the students bring their deep understanding of how business works in Indonesia, Israel, or Brazil, and their strong local networks, to Yale SOM, enrich our community, and enhance learning opportunities for Yale MBAs.”   

In just three years, the program grew to a steady-state enrollment of about 64 students per year, with 304 total graduates coming from 24 different Global Network schools. Students take a core curriculum of three courses at SOM aimed at enhancing their management and leadership abilities to address complex, global challenges; the rest of their courses are electives, chosen from classes at SOM or elsewhere at Yale, allowing students to focus on areas of interest to them and to develop a broad set of skills for global careers. Students have taken classes at Yale Law School, the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, and in the Yale political science department. Others have partnered with faculty at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies for independent study projects, or enrolled in visual storytelling classes offered by the School of Drama to enhance their presentation abilities. Data shows that MAM students take on average twice as many classes outside SOM as their MBA peers.

The program has thus simultaneously advanced two of Yale SOM’s strategic objectives—to integrate even more with the rest of Yale and to become distinctively global. As Ian Rogan, the inaugural director of the MAM program, explained, “[The MAM] aspired to help in the formation of the Global Network for Advanced Management by creating a group of alumni with strong connections to Yale and to another Global Network member school.”

A Degree That Allows Students to Find Their Passion

MAM alumni have pursued careers at leading global organizations including Amazon, Bain, and the World Economic Forum. In a recent survey, a vast majority of graduates said the program made them more attractive to their employers, and more than three-quarters said the program effectively prepared them for their desired career paths. But perhaps most importantly, when asked what the single most significant career-related benefit of the program had been, alumni mentioned that it had helped them “find [their] true passion or calling” more frequently than any of the alternatives.

Luis Diez Canedo ’13 now works as a planning manager with a focus in sustainability for Infonavit, the Mexican federal institute for workers’ housing and the largest mortgage lender in Latin America. Canedo said the MAM allowed him to find a “passion for sustainability and tie it in with my financial skill set.”

“Since I graduated I have devoted my professional life to bridge the gap between social, environmental, and financial sustainability,” Canedo said. “The MAM was an exhilarating experience for me.”

The MAM curriculum has evolved in the five years since Canedo was a student. Students still participate in a colloquium featuring up-close encounters with leaders like retired General Stanley McChrystal and Roz Savage, a professional rower and a Yale World Fellow. They get leadership training through a dedicated course and workshop, and learn about current trends and multinational issues in Bach’s Big Issues course.

Many students from that inaugural class say they’ve maintained closed ties, both professionally and personally. 

Alexey Astafev ’13, deputy director for international cooperation with Russian Railways, said he’s remained in contact with about half of his classmates, having gathered with classmates in places like Istanbul, Milan, and Beijing since graduation. “The connections I made during this program were indeed lasting ones,” Astafey said. “We’ve remained mostly personal acquaintances and friends, but that’s what makes the MAM strong: you never know when you’ll need to call on someone in the future to do something even more meaningful together.”

Lee said the MAM showed her the importance of developing and leveraging teams. “Even now, I still try to connect with as many people in my office as possible,” she said. “Yale showed me that if you made it here, you’re already a high performer. You can go fast by yourself, but the MAM showed me that with a team, you can go even further.”