Tiago Santos Cruz ’17

Post-MAM Position: Procurement Manager, Procurement Leadership Development Program, Johnson & Johnson

During Professor Zoё Chance’s Mastering Influence and Persuasion class, we had to pick a local charity to help by asking people for money. It was an experiment for us to face rejection, influence people, and actually help an institution along the way. My group selected the Community Soup Kitchen. Once I got to know the soup kitchen, I was really motivated to help them further. I already had done photography for 10 years, so the question was, how could I use my photography to give back to society? I thought, why don’t I do a documentary about the soup kitchen and integrate photos as well? But I had no experience with documentaries, so I opted to take Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking at the Yale School of Art. [Watch the final result: “From the Kitchen: An Extended Family in New Haven.”]

I think that the most surprising thing for me about being at Yale has been how differently people at the School of Art think and talk compared to typical business-school students—how they read subtexts between the lines of things. I’m so Cartesian, plotting things on two axes, and they look into stuff that I didn’t see was there. This was an important part of my MAM experience, realizing that once you change schools, you also change your train of thought. The MAM not only allows you to do that, but pushes you to.

When I got accepted to Yale SOM, I tried to get people to talk me out of the idea of coming. Practically, why should I come? I’m already at a good job, and why am I going to give up 10 months of wages and professional progression to go somewhere else? But the opportunity to continue to learn and connect with people from all over the world and all walks of life made me come to the program. And I don’t regret it one bit. In the end, I chose to go back to my home country, but I had to come to the United States to be able to recruit for my position in Brazil. That’s how Yale opens doors.

Johnson & Johnson is the first time in my life that a company is looking at me and saying, “We think you’re a future leader.” Getting the offer was a validation of all the effort I had made during the MBA and the MAM, especially because at Yale I focused on diving deeper into leadership. There was this incredible journey that developed while I was here—personally, artistically, and professionally. And I can pinpoint so many people here that were so important to making that happen.

Every trajectory in the MAM is different. I ask people who want to know if it’s truly worth it, “Why do you want to come to the MAM?” I knew I liked to study, and that was important for me. You don’t have to have everything figured out. Your reason might be that you really want a job, or you want to transition to another industry, or you want to live in the United States. And if you come for this reason, you find that there are lots of other things that you can add to it. If you’re open to the experience and respect the way things happen and apply yourself to it, a lot of good can come from it. I’d say, come here for one reason and be open to everything else.

Interviewed on March 30, 2017