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four alums at Yale SOM
Pictured, from left to right, Class of 2021 alumni Christine Lum Lung, Amy Kundrat, Jeff Cohen, and Mary Ann Melnick

EMBA Alumni Renew, Strengthen Connections at the Yale Innovation Summit

Each year, Yale SOM hosts a variety of conferences and events, welcoming thousands of people to campus—including our alumni, who often return to participate in and lead panels. Four members of the MBA for Executives Class of 2021 recently took part in the Yale Innovation Summit. Here, they share their insights and takeaways.

Dr. Christine Lum Lung ’21

This was my first year attending the Yale Innovation Summit, but it definitely won’t be my last. It was an incredible gathering of founders, researchers, investors, educators, and business leaders from multiple industries who are all interested in innovation and impact. The event was big enough to be exciting and high-energy and yet small enough to have access to speakers and make meaningful connections with other attendees. The panels and events were engaging and thought-provoking, and reflected a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ideas. 

Watch the panel discussion “Home Health 2.0 - Addressing Health Equity Realities,” moderated by Michael Botos and featuring panelists Christine Lum Lung, Nancy Parker Taylor, Josh Stevens, and Darcey Cobbs Lomax, who discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie at the intersection of home healthcare and health equity.

Preview image for the video "Health Panel: Home Health 2.0 - Addressing Health Equity Realities".

Amy Kundrat ’21

As the director of innovation community for Yale Ventures, I attended the summit as part of the organizing team behind the event. Yale’s renewed focus and investment in supporting entrepreneurship led to the creation of Yale Ventures, the home for Yale innovation and entrepreneurship, just over a year ago. The Yale Innovation Summit has become the signature event for this community, drawing over 2,100 Yalies, innovators, investors, and industry partners. I know of no better way to engage across the entire entrepreneurial stack than attending the summit. I reconnected with fellow Yale alumni, made many new connections with potential founders and investors, and learned a tremendous amount from the industry leaders and founders who spoke over the course of two days. 

Some of the highlights for me were:

  • Arts track speaker Jacob Padrón, artistic director of Long Wharf Theater in New Haven: “Show me your budget, and I’ll show you your values.” 
  • Yale SOM alumnus Governor Ned Lamont ’80 on doing business in Connecticut: “Those of you that are here in Connecticut, stay. Those of you who are visiting, you don’t know what you’re missing.”
  • Yale SOM Dean Kerwin K. Charles was one of 7 Yale deans who attended the summit. He helped to set the tone with his remarks noting the connection between the twin ambition of business and society and the impact-oriented Yale Innovation Summit organized around the arts, biotech, climate, healthcare, and tech tracks.
  • The keynote panel was balanced in its take on AI. Bratin Saha, vice president and general manager of AI and machine learning at Amazon, described how they use six different vectors when thinking about building with responsible AI, including bias, privacy, explainability, and robustness: “We are ensuring our systems are built with those properties and then communicating to the consumers so they are using them in a more confident manner.”

It felt like I found my community when I became a student at SOM. So, reconnecting with alumni I knew from the program and even those I don’t know as well who graduated in other years or programs is always like meeting a long-lost friend. And of course, any chance I have to be with my community while inside Evans Hall is even better!

Jeff Cohen ’21

I was participating in the summit as an individual alumni from the Yale EMBA program and as a member of a Yale-founded startup presenting at the conference. 

First, it is always an amazing moment to open the doors of Evans Hall. Just being in the building strikes me with countless positive emotions. However, the real excitement comes when connecting with old classmates. These are the moments that are far and few between. Any excuse to see them is a worthwhile one, but the summit was more than an excuse—it was a master class. 

I spent the two days soaking up the expert panels and discussions in the field of sustainability. Working for Cambium Carbon, a company at the intersection of climate tech, carbon-reducing supply chains, and sustainable innovations for the built environment, my time was spent following the programming of the sustainability track. Witnessing panel insights from Amazon’s Dan Gross and then getting to sit down at dinner or lunch and continuing the conversation in private was an unparalleled experience. Plus, hearing from other entrepreneurs in the space about their tumultuous, roller-coaster journey made me internalize our journey in a way you cannot experience from internal conversations or discussions with friends not going through the same thing. And it made me know we, too, were on the right path.

Mary Ann Melnick ’21

I participated in the summit as a gold sponsor for the event. This was my second year attending and participating as a gold-level sponsor. My company, BioLabs, provides services and infrastructure for early stage life science startups to quickly launch their operations. As an incubator for biotech startups, participating in the Innovation Summit is a fantastic way for us to support the growing bioscience community in New Haven while increasing our visibility. It was truly a joy to be back in Evans Hall for this event and seeing my fellow EMBA alumni made it even more special for me.

Watch the biotech showcase "Emerging Yale Biotech Companies," moderated by MaryAnn Melnick and Bill Tanner. The showcase features presentations from Joseph Contessa, Mark Saltzman, Joseph Gennaro, Anna Pyle, Ya Ha, Carla Devillers, Ons M'Saad, Mike Cola, Jaime Grutzendler, Greg Tietjen, Ray Johnson, Angelique Bordey, Ashoka Madduri, Choukri Ben Mamoun, Qin Yan, Ryan Muldoon, and Anne Eichman.

Preview image for the video "Biotech Showcase: Emerging Yale Biotech Companies".