Skip to main content

Just Five Questions: Vivian Li ’13 MAM

Five questions posed to leaders in business and society. 

Vivian Li JFQ

Yuan (Vivian) Li is Co-Founder of Beijing DRGs Tech Co., Ltd., and a Director-at-Large of the The Yale SOM Alumni Advisory Board where she serves as the Chair of the Global Chapters Committee.  She is also Director of The Yale Healthcare Club of China.

What’s a global trend you are following where you see an opportunity or bright spot in this challenging macro environment?

Two exciting things I’ve been following are the clean energy transformation and AI’s impact across all industries. Both are closely aligned with SOM’s mission for business and society. Living in China, and traveling to other parts of the world occasionally, I’m startled by how much infrastructure has been put in place for the clean energy transition. Meanwhile, I sometimes get frustrated by the lack of collaboration between countries, and how different the transforming paces are on this issue. I see an opportunity for global collaboration around both technology innovation and policy making, and the potential for AI-powered analytics to optimize energy consumption patterns and identify energy-saving opportunities, for organizations and individuals. As my venture provides data analytics to hospital management in China, I’ve witnessed how data and AI algorithms enable  system changes that maximize efficiency. I'm excited to see the rising trend of AI powered solutions across  every industry and the positive impact that will have in accelerating our sustainability goals. 

What’s an example of how SOM’s mission informed your professional path or how you built teams?

There are so many examples to share related to both business and society, as I’ve been a serial entrepreneur in both education and healthcare post-SOM. In my most recent venture in healthcare IT, I consider the social value of our products before weighing into the efforts, it has changed the way we do business and manage teams. Instead of only developing market demanded products for pure financial return, we put a lot of effort into promoting mindful and meaningful solutions to clients and policy-makers; we offer free first-hand experiences and expertise to all stakeholders hoping to drive positive change for the ecosystem in the industry. For employees, we aim to encourage personal growth inside and outside the company. It's hard to build such a culture in an environment where sometimes things don't really play by market rules, or nourish long-term growth, but it does feel great to lead a purposeful endeavor like this everyday.

What’s an SOM experience that helped shape the way you understand business and society?

I would say many of my aha moments lie in the everyday encounters during my days at SOM. On a personal level, I was deeply touched by how welcoming and supportive the community is to our inaugural class of MAM, composed of 20 international students from 14 countries.

The mission of business and society was a natural integration into the many courses I took. In one of my investment classes, David Swensen was once invited to the class and I was able to observe his wisdom and humbleness in a close environment.

I was truly impressed by how much a well-managed endowment fund can help with the operation of an educational institution like Yale and society at large. It’s one of the few moments I believed in the concept of “Capital for Good.” Having that awareness, when I make my personal investment portfolio, I always consider a company’s long-term social value.  

What’s a favorite SOM memory, faculty member, mentor or class?

I really enjoyed David Cromwell’s lecture on private equity, this memory of him in his 60s, walking into class with jazz and chewing gum after a two hour drive from NYC, really enlightened the spirit for his students, not to mention all the tricky raw cases he developed throughout his career at JPMorgan, which challenged us throughout the semester. One line I have kept in mind from Mr. Cromwell was to always put the rotten apples on the top; it guided me through many of my conversations with potential investors and partners, and earned me respect and long-term partnerships.

What are you excited about for the year ahead (as it relates to any public, private or nonprofit endeavor you are paying attention to)?

For the year ahead, I’m excited about AI driven solutions and their uses in many industries to drive sustainability goals for society at large. Having said that, another fundamental driving factor I look forward to is an easing of geopolitical tensions, and more global collaboration in science and policy making. As I just read the news about significantly increasing flights between the US and China, I’m excited to see global collaboration strengthening for a shared future of peace and prosperity.

Just Five Questions is an initiative led by the Yale SOM Alumni Advisory Board. Want to learn more? Contact Lee Race ’93 with feedback, thoughts, and/or questions.