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Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset through the MAM Program

Melissa Lu

Melissa Lu ’22 discusses the resources and courses at Yale SOM that have helped her develop her startup while she pursues her Master of Advanced Management degree.

cohort of students standing outside

I joined the Master of Advanced Management program at Yale SOM in August of 2021. As an MBA student from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the founder and CEO of my own company, Gengi e-commerce, I was thrilled to discover that, at SOM, not only would I learn how to develop into a global leader, but I would also have access to a rich array of entrepreneurship courses and resources. I felt that the depth of expertise in global business available to students at SOM would be pivotal to my career—and an in invaluable complement to my 10 years of branding and digital marketing experience in the fashion and luxury industry in China.

During the first semester, I selected two entrepreneurship courses. The first, Start-up Founder Studies, is a seminar class taught by Professor Kyle Jensen in which we discussed the complex issues that accompany the startup founding experience. We were joined by a small number of guests each week, including prominent founders, investors, and writers, who provided fascinating insights from the perspective of customer discovery, venture capital, and startup team building. It was a very eye-opening experience. This course has helped me clarify what to focus on in this challenging business environment. 

The second course, Patterns in Entrepreneurship, is taught by Professor A.J. WassersteinIn this class, Prof. Wasserstein explained that there are many ways to build your own venture. He encouraged us to use a 10-point framework to discover which entrepreneurial pattern would work best for us—one dimension considered our own values and lifestyle goals. One piece of advice he shared with us that resonated with me was that “a career built at the expense of personal life is a pity, even if you are to become an unprecedentedly successful entrepreneur.” My mindset has been recalibrated and refreshed during this class, and I feel lucky to have taken this course at this stage in my entrepreneurial career. 

The opportunity to have access to world-class professors has been key during my MAM experience. The professors are like my colleagues; they not only provide academic knowledge, but also encourage and contribute to a social and interactive environment.

My experience at Yale SOM also wouldn’t be the same without my MAM cohort. Working with classmates from different backgrounds and nationalities has enabled me to develop global reach and has broadened my understanding of cultural diversity. As an entrepreneur just starting out, I feel that a genuine and strong network is crucial for success, as it provides guidance in running and growing a business. I believe that the Yale MAM program is the best environment to nurture this great network.

Yale SOM enables me to connect with more investors who have strong credibility, which in turn has helped me build confidence. To seek further support for my current venture, I have become a member of both the Tsai CITY LaunchPad and the Intensive: Product Development & Innovation, which partners with L’Oreal Paris. As a funding partner in the Yale China Venture Club, I interact with fellow entrepreneurs at Yale and discuss business trends with our guest speakers every Friday afternoon. Within Yale’s large entrepreneurship community, I recognize the importance of having a support system, which encourages me from both a business and personal standpoint. This will ultimately benefit me significantly as I continue to grow my venture.