Lina Kacyem-Kamgang ’21
Internship: Global Ventures
I worked for 10 years in the insurance industry. Most of my career was spent leading teams across the country. I also worked with entrepreneurs in North America and in Africa on growth, fundraising, product market fit, and marketing. I decided to pursue an MBA because I wanted to learn about different opportunities and do a career change.
I chose Yale SOM, first and foremost, for the people. I remember coming to Welcome Weekend and meeting both first- and second-year students, as well as potential classmates. When my husband and I got in the car to drive home, he told me, “These are clearly your people—very down to earth, real, and mature.” I felt the same way: there were my people, indeed.
I live by a set of values that includes authenticity, trustworthiness, and commitment. From my experience, you cannot successfully lead a business—or any venture, for that matter—without these three core values. Yale SOM, through its mission, keeps my classmates and me accountable to those values. An authentic and trustworthy leader is not just committed to business, but also to the society and community that the business impacts.
It had been 10 years since I’d been in school, and I was a little rusty. I knew I needed an environment that would put a lot of emphasis on academics and have a rigorous curriculum. Yale SOM’s integrated curriculum was the right fit. It pushes you to think like a CEO, not just the head of a department. You learn that when you’re making decisions for one side of the business, you need the discipline to identify and measure the impact of those decisions on all the parts of the business. It’s how it works in the real world.
My accounting class also really came in handy during my internship. In venture capital, there isn’t always a lot of past quantitative data to use when you’re evaluating a new company, so being able to read, understand, and ask questions drawn from a startup’s financial statements is crucial. I was glad that I had kept some of my notes from class.
I am the president of the African Business and Society Club (ABS) and the co-leader of the Black Business Alliance (BBA). Through both clubs, I’m working on initiatives that will have impact well beyond the borders of Yale University. The BBA is running a speakers’ series that addresses potential solutions to the socioeconomic equity issues facing Black populations in the U.S. The ABS Club launched two initiatives: the Yale Africa Startup Review and Africa Startup Ecosystem Lab. These initiatives will help African startups solve the challenges that they are facing and allow students to have a more meaningful experience here. All the clubs are a tremendous opportunity to learn and try new things. They push you intellectually and professionally, and they’re a lot of fun.
Interviewed on October 23, 2020