2019 Best EMBAs: Charles Yang, University of Texas (McCombs)

Charles Yang     

University of Texas in Austin, McCombs School of Business

Life-long learner; enjoy meet and understand people, and drives change and value; traveler.”

Age: 35

Hometown: Qitaihe, China

Family Members: The amazing Jason Coffey

Fun fact about yourself: First generation college goer who grew up in a small coal mining community in northwestern China – small by Chinese standards with a population just shy of 1 million

Undergraduate School and Degree: Undergraduate degree in Mechatronics Engineering from Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Alberta

Where are you currently working? Alvarez and Marsal Consulting Manager

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Board of Directors for the Houston Downtown Tellepsen YMCA; United Way Community Investment Committee; Spring Branch ISD Mentor.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I led the 10 years strategic planning effort for the Houston Downtown Tellepsen YMCA. The success was not possible without the supports I received – collaborators on the board, MBA consulting project team, study group friends, family members, and work team.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I managed a new-to-industry data-driven program that increased clients’ equipment availability and reduced plant non-productive time. It successfully challenged the industry on how different parts of the value chain collaborate and share data, and yielded results that transformed the business model.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Patrick Badolato for Financial Statement Analysis as he challenged me thinking about numbers, strategy and decision making in a different way.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Leading People and Organizations provided me the framework and skills leading individuals, groups, and organizations effectively and efficiently.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? To intensify learning through colleagues’ business and management experience.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? See diversity working at its best solve the toughest business issues.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Potential is limitless and nothing is impossible. It’s a cliché – but with the right people around you, it is especially true for an EMBA experience.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? There was a semester where (1) the program had the most quant-heavy workload; (2) I lost a team member in our work team and had to launch a new project; and (3) I had to move into my house. I decided to join a few EMBA colleagues for a consulting project and separately, led a non-profit 10-year strategic planning session. The teams around these endeavors supported me enormously ad we are proud of what we achieved together.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? No matter where you are on the spectrum, strive further to fine tune self-awareness and confidence level.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The people. I learned so much from not only the professors but also the classmates. Everyone embodied different attributes and visions that are truly enlightening and inspirational.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I commuted from Houston to Austin for classes and wish I had more time with friends other than the school weekends.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire the classmates who had newborns during the program. Their commitment and dedication to family, education, and work are inspiring.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…it was always an inspiration since I worked professionally but the plan solidified when I switched from engineering management to product management.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Leading the way into a new era of global energy solution to impact world productivity, community prosperity and our future.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Always have the curiosity and empathy to listen; Positive and energetic.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Establish a systematic program that promotes diversity emphasizing Asian business leaders
  • Mentors young Asian business leaders
  • Build a non-profit platform bridging resources to underserved aspiring and promising future leaders

What made Charles such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“From the first moment, it was clear that Charles was going to be the kind of student who strives to get the most of out of his EMBA experience. Through each interaction with program staff, faculty and peers, Charles exhibited exceptional energy, leadership, proactive approach and an openness to make a positive impact by enthusiastically sharing his ideas and resources with the McCombs community. He worked tirelessly to achieve excellence in his academic work and, just as importantly, he found the time to participate in all the career management and co-curricular learning opportunities offered. Charles was both a valued and active member of the McCombs Ambassador Committee, serving as a point of contact for potential students in Houston and Austin. He volunteered his time to speak on panels at information sessions and host campus visitors on class weekends.

There was no such thing as “optional” for Charles. His commitment to remaining engaged in all the stages of EMBA experience never wavered. In our work together, Charles impressed me with his positive outlook and an insatiable desire to grow both academically and professionally. Charles is the kind of person who learns from every interaction, and who treats each person with equal respect, understanding that there is an opportunity to transform through every connection. Because of this, Charles has been able to truly blossom as a leader during his time in the program. I am certain that Charles will continue to impress us in all his future endeavors, and that he will continue to serve as a shining example of what a McCombs EMBA represents.”

Alma Moore

Career and Talent Development Consultant

Executive MBA Program

McCombs School of Business  

Sharon Barrett

Director of MBA Recruiting and Admissions for Working Professional and Executive Programs

McCombs School of Business


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