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Nicole Cheng ’23

Nicole Cheng ’23

Master’s Degree in Global Business & Society

Post-SOM position: Environmental consultant at PGL Environmental Consultants

I was intrigued by the interdisciplinary nature of the GBS degree: half of our credits come from the School of Management, and the other half come from anywhere at Yale. We can further our business acumen, dive further into our field of interest, and also explore a new area. With my background in environmental science, I’ve always been interested in planetary health—the interplay between humans and the environment. How can we develop sustainably? How is climate change going to impact societies? Can there be synergies between people, planet, and profit for a triple bottom line? The GBS program allowed me to hop from the School of Management to the School of the Environment and even to the School of Public Health.

Nicole Change and three others in front of Handsome Dan cardboard cutouts
Nicole Cheng and two friends with Yale University President Peter Salovey
Nicole Cheng and friends in kayaks on a lake
Large group of people outside

Two things stood out to me about Yale SOM’s curriculum: the real-world applications and the discussions about the future. The curriculum is all about understanding the past and present while being able to think critically about the future. In our Business and Government after Communism class, we had leading experts give us lectures on the changing business landscape in their geographical area of expertise. We explored China’s relationship with African countries, U.S.-Cuba relations, India’s growing economy, and Vietnam’s investment landscape. Our professor, Dr. Ian Shapiro, even organized small dinners with the guest speakers so we could have more intimate conversations outside of class.  I also had the opportunity to take Global Social Entrepreneurship India, in which our student teams partnered with social enterprises in India to help them further their missions. This meant long hours being accountable to our clients, teammates, and ourselves—as well as an incredible trip to India!

Three friends at hockey rink
Group of people outside a historic building
Nicole Cheng and friends with Handsome Dan

I didn’t anticipate how lively and supportive the SOM community would be. We’re lucky to have so many community events, like Closing Bell and Voices, every week, that provide a space—with lots of free food!—to connect with classmates who become friends. In a casual conversation with someone, I mentioned my background in environmental science, and the other person was quick to suggest I connect with so-and-so who has a similar background because they could see us getting along and supporting each other through our next steps and career. People here are quick to connect friends with friends. I came to Yale SOM for a learning opportunity, and I’m leaving with a lot of incredible insights as well as some lifelong friends.