MBA Stories: Part 49. YingYing Li

 After graduating from a Chinese University, Yingying Li moved to Africa to work for one of the world’s largest telecom companies, ZTE. However, decided that she wanted to continue her education and become a top manager, so she joined the MBA programme at HEC Paris.

Tell us about your MBA and its influence.
My MBA has brought a lot more possibilities to my career, When I started by MBA at HEC Paris, I met people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds and cultures, which not only helped me see different point of view, but allowed me to make lifelong friends. Classes such as finance, marketing, strategies, and entrepreneurship helped me develop my business knowledge. These two areas made different industries, functions, and geographic locations become more available to me, and the people around me were very supportive and helpful in making these availabilities a reality. These factors made me understand what I really wanted to do, instead of what I could do.

Without the MBA, I would not have been able to adapt to the completely new cultures so fast or deliver business plans which include marketing strategies, financial analysis, and operation plans.

In my class of 68 people, there were 38 nationalities and people were very open to diversity. It was an amazing experience for me to have such an international exposure. Now during my work, I always try to truly understand different cultures and respect them even though I don’t completely agree. Another take away is that I’m so flexible with geographic locations that I can see myself working anywhere in the world. With the trend of globalisation, I see my ability to adapt new cultures and locations as an important advantage in career.

For me, my MBA is more likely to be a long-term investment for my career as well as my life. Investments will include comprehensive business knowledge, a good business sense, strategic thinking, a powerful alumni network, and lifelong friends.

In the close future, I will start my own business once I know the value I can create by leveraging my background, skills, and network.

Tell us about your journey?
I was key account manager of the ZTE Corporation in the Congo before I started my MBA, and I had planned to continue to be sales representative after my MBA. However, I changed my mind after I did my specialisation of entrepreneurship at HEC. During my specialisation of entrepreneurship, I undertook a real-life project with another two HEC MBA candidates. Our task was to commercialise an advanced piece of technology, and my role was acting CMO. It was the most challenging phase of my MBA due to the tight deadline, and the culture differences of the team. The team consisted of a South African, someone from France, and someone from China. I was struggling with the technologies, the limited access to information, the time management, and communicating with the team. But my learning curve was deep and it was at that moment I shaped my ideas to be an entrepreneur in the future.

What do you do now?
I am an investment manager at CSCEC, the biggest construction company in the world. The main goal of CSCEC is to transform themselves from construction organisation to a real estate investment organisation. My role is to explore and find strategic and profitable real estate projects for CSCEC in Algeria.