The Yale School of Management alumni relations team is on a mission to showcase the remarkable work and lives of our alumni. Join us as we uncover inspiring stories and glean insights from our alumni, highlighting their exceptional achievements and dedication to fostering positive change.
Amidst the vibrant pulse of New York City and the autumnal hues of Central Park, we had the privilege of meeting with Weiru Li, an extraordinary Yale SOM Class of 2023 alumna, for a personal interview about her journey leading up to and following her studies at Yale School of Management.
Weiru's story commenced with a background deeply rooted in values of hard work, integrity, and leading by example. Her parents, who were the first in her family to attend college, provided her with the freedom to forge her own path, even if it meant having their only child traverse oceans and continents. The life lessons they bestowed upon her are simple yet profound: work hard, stand tall, and be a beacon of integrity. In her childhood, Weiru was gifted with a name that encapsulated the essence of her character - "Weiru" (唯如), meaning "pursuing and believing in the ultimate truth of the universe" in Buddhism. Her parents selected this name to inspire her to remain curious about the world and to always stay true to herself.
Weiru's dreams in the U.S. initially began with the aspiration of living in New York City, but soon transformed into a well-considered desire to meaningfully contribute her community. Her first job at Ernst & Young exposed her to the world of wealth and asset management, where she worked with hedge fund clients. This experience motivated her to pursue a career in the hedge fund industry, where she found herself among sharp, knowledgeable individuals whose organized work ethic left a lasting impression. Weiru's journey took her through well-established firms like Viking Global Investors, Point72 Asset Management, where she encountered daily opportunities for learning. The hedge fund industry, globally renowned for its intricate regulations, found Weiru captivated by the complexity of these financial regulations. Her interest extended beyond mere compliance into truly understanding the historical evolution of these regulations and the lessons learned from past financial failures that collectively shaped the protocols we have today.
A few years into her successful career, a curiosity about the 'what-ifs' and bigger picture questions in life began to grow. This curiosity led her to pursue an MBA at Yale. Weiru reflected with us on some especially fond days of her life at Yale SOM, where she felt free to explore, take risks, and learn in a supportive community that encouraged her to embrace new experiences. Weiru's education within the walls of Evan’s Hall, facilitated moments of growth that changed the course of her life. Her time at Yale SOM was not just about academic achievement but a transformative experience, igniting her passion for education, leadership, and societal impact. “There were moments that changed everything for me," she shared, delving into the experiences that shaped her personal and professional growth. The school’s focus on educating leaders for business and society left a lasting mark on Weiru's values and worldview: "It's more than just business; it's about ethics, responsibility, and the greater good," she said.
During her time at SOM, Weiru served as the Alumni Relations Chair for Yale SOM's student government. Her enthusiasm for connecting with the alumni community transformed the way current students connect with alumni. Alongside her co-chair, in collaboration with the school, Weiru launched Alumni Appreciation week, a week of programing for students that invites them to acknowledge and thank alumni for their support of current students at the school. This initiative, now in its third year, has led to hundreds of handwritten, personalized letters from current students being sent to alumni. "It's not just about networking; it's about fostering connections, building a community that lasts a lifetime," she emphasized. Now an alumnus herself, her active connection to the vibrant Yale SOM alumni community in NYC adds even further depth to her experience.
The lessons she learned from a memorable mentorship experience during her time at Yale SOM emphasized the significance of empowering the next generation. Weiru's own influence on the next generation has extended beyond her midtown Manhattan office and into the communities she has touched. She shares with me how she translates Yale SOM's principles into impactful societal projects, particularly involved with the Junior League. Her unwavering dedication to equality has become a defining element of her career.
After graduating in 2023, Weiru continued to break barriers as a woman of color in the corporate world, and her Yale SOM education equipped her with the wisdom to overcome them. As we continued to talk, Weiru acknowledged the complexities of being a woman, minority, and immigrant, all at the same time. While she did not use these labels as excuses for setbacks, she recognized that biases and prejudices, often at a subconscious level, do exist. She navigated unique challenges with grace and determination, transforming them into opportunities for herself and, in the process, paving the way for diversity and inclusivity in the organizations she touched. She stressed the importance of having a voice, especially for women navigating their careers. "Don't be afraid to have a voice at the table; and don’t be afraid to leave a mark on the world," she urged, her words resonating with a profound sense of assuredness.
Pausing on a park bench and taking in the urban landscape, we discussed her aspirations for the future, both in her career and as a leader driving positive change. Weiru's commitment to empowering others, her dedication to her community, and her exceptional skills in finance make her an asset not only to the corporate world but to society as a whole. Weiru Li is not just an exceptional individual; she is a powerful force for positive change and empowerment, destined for a future marked by even greater achievements and contributions to the world.