Juan Salem ’18

Post-SOM Position: Strategy & Operations Lead, Google

I came to SOM to explore a career change—I was considering health, technology, and consumer packaged goods. Yale SOM’s employer presentations helped me narrow it down. Having employers come to campus and give us firsthand information was really helpful. The other thing that really helped was the strong club network across SOM. All the professional clubs host dedicated events where second-year students and alumni talk about their own experiences. The combination of the employer perspective and the student-led perspective helped me see that technology was the space for me.

One of the most global experiences I’ve had at Yale SOM has been engaging with students right here at SOM. I had never been with such a large, diverse number of classmates. Half of my learning team was international, which I loved because they brought such different perspectives to everything we did. My other big touchpoint was the International Experience trip to China, which I consider one of the highlights of my MBA experience. We went to Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing. We had amazing access at some of the top-end companies in China. I had studied China, but I’d never actually had a chance to interact with anyone working there, so it was eye-opening to see how their businesses work.

The biggest surprise for me has been figuring out how to lead without having any formal type of authority. At Yale SOM, we’re always being put in different types of leadership situations, whether it’s group projects or working on club activities. What was challenging was learning how to influence a group of people to all pull in the same direction when they often had different commitments and priorities. Coming from a consulting background, I was used to everyone having the same metrics and incentives—you’re on a contract and all working towards the same thing. Discovering how to connect with and motivate such disparate people was a huge learning opportunity.

Interviewed on April 26, 2018