Yale Curriculum at Work
The Yale School of Management launched the Yale integrated MBA curriculum in the fall of 2006 with the aim of making business education more responsive to real-world problems. The curriculum offers a multidisciplinary approach to management, a departure from the traditional method of breaking the subject matter into disciplines, such as marketing, finance, and accounting. The core curriculum is structured around eight Organizational Perspectives — four external to the organization: the Investor, the Customer, the Competitor, and State and Society; and four internal to the organization: the Innovator, the Operations Engine, the Employee, and Sourcing and Managing Funds (or CFO). The year culminates with the Integrated Leadership Perspective, which uses a series of integrated case studies to pull together what students have learned throughout the year. (Read more about the Yale integrated MBA curriculum.)
This past summer presented the first opportunity for students trained under the integrated curriculum to test their learning in the workplace. The following is a look at the experiences of seven such students:
Internship: Lehman Brothers
I’ve been into finance since an early age. I grew up in Hong Kong, which is a very financial services-oriented place, and both my father and brother worked in banks. It’s part of how I grew up. At Lehman Brothers, I worked in the Consumer Group, where I was on several M&A projects, on both the buying and selling sides, which was a really excellent experience. There’s a lot of teamwork in investment banking. This is something I felt particularly well-prepared for by SOM. I think this is a result of our small class sizes, and the fact that all of our classes emphasize group work and teamwork, whether it be in the core classes, or in the electives as well. This is in addition to the great grounding in finance the curriculum gave me. In all the cases that we discuss, we analyze it from a financial perspective, in addition to some of the other organizational behavior perspectives, or strategy perspectives. This allows us to take a 360-degree view on the issues at hand.
Internship: United Nations Global Compact
The big project for my internship was a conference to promote responsible business practices in Dubai. I was tasked with creating a presentation to show businessmen the benefit of corporate social responsibility. I had total flexibility on how to present this and a light bulb went off: Why don't I see if I can use the Yale curriculum as my framework, and see if I can sort of link to that? I focused on each of the curriculum’s eight organizational perspectives, showing how each one can be positively affected by corporate social responsibility (CSR), which would make CSR beneficial to the company as a whole. A lot of these companies either never heard of CSR or simply just have never thought that it would provide any value to them. So it was really to try to convince these companies to see how CSR could provide value to their organizations.
Part of my inspiration for doing this was the fact the UN doesn’t have a lot of experience with MBAs. For a lot of people at the UN, business and diplomacy should be separate. But that appears to be slowly changing. They’ve finally begun to realize the value an MBA can provide. I only heard of the internship when the executive director of the UN Global Compact contacted an SOM professor. So there was a real dependence on me to bring a business perspective to a lot of different issues. I think it required me to think about all the different perspectives, because there wasn't really anyone else with marketing experience, or finance experience, or strategy experience to really kind of feed off of. I had to really rely on my learning from the first year. Even greater was what I learned while at the UN. I’ve now had experience dealing with businesses in different parts of the world. I have a global perspective I couldn’t claim at the beginning of the summer.
Internship: Credit Suisse
I love finance. At Credit Suisse, I was in the Financial Institutions Group, working with banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, private equity shops and hedge funds. I got to do a lot with the IPO of a very, very prestigious quantitative hedge fund, which was a pretty cool deal. I learned a ton from that deal and from the rest of the summer. My summer class at Credit Suisse was small by Wall Street standards, but there were a lot of summer associates from different schools. During the first couple weeks of training, I consciously tried to benchmark those of us from SOM against the others. What I found is that you had schools where the students were very personable but had relatively weak technical skills. And you had other schools with very strong technical skills, but, frankly, I didn't think they worked very well in groups. Meanwhile, we were easy to work with and we had strong technical skills, allowing us to bring something unique to the table. Over the course of the summer I noticed there were some unpredictable ways the new curriculum proved helpful to me. Here’s just one: I remember talking to this one senior managing director within the group, and he mentioned that he covers Japanese banks. I asked him if he covered Shinsei Bank, which he did. He asked what I knew of it. And I told him about the SOM International Experience and how I went to Japan, where we met with Thierry Porté, the CEO of Shinsei Bank. He was clearly impressed by this. It was the kind of intangible benefit of the school I never could’ve expected.
Internship: New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is such a complex organization. I was working with the office of the president, with the COO and the deputy to the president. And I was on the team that was specifically looking at the metrics, identifying the metrics that the senior management should use on a monthly basis to evaluate how effectively they're fulfilling their mission to the public. So there's the customer, whose relationship with the library is rapidly evolving; there is the employee, with everyone from the IT people to the librarians, who are dealing with the users on a kind of face-to-face basis. And there are the competitors. People are turning to internet resources to do their research, instead of going to the library, which is how they used to ask questions and find answers. The new curriculum at SOM, and ILP especially, encouraged us to constantly have these different stakeholder hats on when evaluating a problem.
I actually think it's hard, sometimes, when you're at school, to have the context to understand how much you've actually learned and grown, both intellectually and as a person. It's only when you go out into the world and use the skills that you’ve acquired in a meaningful way in an organization that you can see just how valuable it’s been. This summer showed me the value of what I'd learned in my first year at SOM.
Internship: International Finance Corporation
I was brought in to do China-focused projects. One was figuring out how we could push foreign investment into the central regions of China, since the vast majority goes to the East Coast. I worked in China before SOM. I also attended the China International Experience trip, where we met with government leaders who described their efforts to increase private investment in the central and western provinces in an attempt to narrow the income gap. That was really helpful. There were a lot of frameworks in the core curriculum that I think helped me as I worked on my projects. To give one example, when multinational companies are making decisions about where they are going to invest, one of the things they look at is the demographics of the population. One concept we learned in State and Society was called the dependency ratio — a measurement of the number of people in the workforce of a country versus the number of retirees that workforce is supporting. Dependency ratios can give you some idea of the long-term potential for consistent economic growth and the sustainability of human capital resources. I found that throughout the summer I was able to apply lessons from many of the core classes — Investor, Competitor, Customer, ILP — which made a real difference in my effectiveness at the IFC.
Internship: TMG Partners
Before SOM, I worked for Morgan Stanley’s real estate group in San Francisco, where I focused on real estate acquisitions for Morgan Stanley’s two $5 billion private equity funds. For a long time, I’ve been interested in the positive impact a developer can have on a city, so that’s what I did for my summer internship. TMG Partners is a small company — 25 people — with a very entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. They’re committed to sustainable building and smart growth in the San Francisco area. I worked primarily on acquisitions, looking for new investment and development opportunities. It was a major change from Morgan Stanley, as I had more input and influence on the projects we pursued, rather than simply underwriting them.
I spent most of my career before Yale in the weeds, looking at the small picture, focused primarily on numbers, or the base level. And then, through the program here, I started to take a step back and to think of the big-picture issues that surround any major decision you can make. This summer, they were very impressed with the way that I could look at an opportunity and pick out “here's what’s right, here's what's wrong, here are the risks, and here is how we can mitigate them” rather than simply asking "do the numbers work?" It was kind of like one of those "click" moments, when you say, "Alright, business school is worth it." I have a lot of friends in business school. One thing I see here at Yale that other schools don’t necessarily offer is a real long-term perspective. The Careers class here is really unique, pushing us not just to consider the next job but to look 10 or 12 years out, to consider our legacies, and act accordingly. Jobs and skills are building blocks to something much greater than getting that first great job out of school.
Internship: Bank of America
I think corporate responsibility should be woven into every aspect of a company, ideally, so that no matter what department you’re in, you can play a role in affecting the greater community. I was the sole intern in Bank of America’s corporate philanthropy department. They gave me two projects: finding ways to publicize the company’s giving and measuring its impact in the community. The first was pretty straight-forward; the second required a little more creativity.
How do you measure impact? Bank of America gives out money locally, which makes figuring out the social return on investment even more complicated. What’s great about the SOM curriculum is that while there’s this great mission, it’s also very practical. For instance, I attended a workshop Sharon Oster had done on social return on investment. No one else that I talked to had ever heard of doing a social return on investment calculation. I'd done a lot of reading in cases that talked about competitive advantage in philanthropy or the competitive advantage of being a corporate citizen. I had friends from another top business school who had never thought about corporate philanthropy, at all. I just think the perspective of the school and some of the opportunities here really helped me in my specific field.
Read more about public interest internships
The Program on Social Enterprise, a center at Yale SOM that supports scholars, students, and alumni interested in the connections between society and business, sought feedback from interns from nonprofit, government, and socially conscious private-sector companies on how their summers went. Forty students responded, writing about their time working for the Sydney Opera House, PBS, the World Bank, Booz Allen Hamilton, the United Way, the State of New Jersey, and the Gap.
Read their stories.