2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Yinan Yu, Wharton School

Yinan Yu

Wharton Executive MBA (Philadelphia)

Age: 31

Motivated by a successful career while maintaining balance between work, family and the Wharton EMBA.

Hometown: Changsha, Hunan, China

Family Members: 

Claire Cohen – Daughter

Adam Cohen – Husband

Fun fact about yourself:

Claire, Adam and I have all been through the Wharton EMBA education. Adam graduated from the Wharton EMBA program in 2016 and Claire attended the first two terms with me in the womb.

Undergraduate School and Degree: 

Bucknell University – Business Administration

Where are you currently working?

Chatham Financial Corporation

Director- Hedge Accounting Advisor

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I achieved top 10% in academic standing and First Year Honors. It was very challenging to balance work and school while taking care of a new-born. It took a lot of self-discipline and time management to keep up with demands on all fronts. I was proud of my academic standing given the challenges I had to overcome.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Getting promoted to be a Director that leads the hedge accounting advisory team at Chatham Financial. I was promoted right after taking a five-month maternity leave and focused solely on school and my newborn. My company had tremendous trust in me to give me this opportunity after my maternity leave. I was able to demonstrate to both my company and other women in similar positions that it’s possible to have a successful professional career and excel in school while taking care of a family.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Kent Smetters: Professor Smetters made challenging microeconomic concepts interesting and relevant to today’s business world. He also continued to hold guest lectures with us during our second year to share his insights and wisdom around current events.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? It’s a prestigious and rigorous program that attracts top talent from various industries. The faculty members were outstanding and truly experts in their fields. I also love the bi-weekly Friday and Saturday on-campus schedule that really enhanced my overall learning experience and gave me the opportunity to connect with my classmates.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I really enjoyed getting to know the faculty and classmates who are all experts in their fields. I’m learning so much from each one of them and we will continue to learn from each other as part of the WEMBA family in the future.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? One of my favorite courses is Leading Effective Teams. It gave me an opportunity to self-reflect and assess the organization of my work team and offered me a different perspective of how to improve the effectiveness of my team and be a better leader at work. It was a great opportunity to apply the course concepts at work directly.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? When I was pregnant with Claire, I rented an apartment near work so I could cut down on time spent commuting during the weekdays to focus on work and school. On weekends, I would go back to my home in Philadelphia and enjoy the weekend with my husband. It was challenging but I tried to focus on work and school during the weekdays and leave at least one day a weekend for family time, especially after Claire was born.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Line up all the support before entering an executive MBA program. It takes a village to get through this program and you will need all the support from work, family and friends to get through the next two years.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school?  You can’t start a family during an executive MBA program. I’m just one of many women in the Wharton MBA program that successfully started a family during the program.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not signing up for more of the program’s travel-abroad course opportunities in the first year. It was a great experience going to Argentina with Wharton and I wish I got to go on more international trips with the school.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Rick King – Rick devoted a lot of his time and energy to organizing activities for the class, including prom night, class gifts, attending Phillies games, and other social events. Rick contributed significantly to enhance everyone’s experience during the program and I really appreciated his efforts and ability to take on extra-curricular activities while managing a successful career and family duties.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was ready for the next challenge and opportunity in life.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term goal is to be the CFO of a multi-national company.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Someone they wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to when they are in need.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Walking the stage in Wharton’s graduation commencement.

Take a trip to visit Tibet.

What made Yinan such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020? 

Yinan was inspired by two WEMBA alumni to enroll in the Wharton MBA Program for Executives.  First, by the founder, Mike Bontrager, (WEMBA alumnus  WG’90) of her sponsoring company, Chatham Financial and second, by her husband, Adam Cohen, also a graduate of the Wharton MBA Program for Executives. Watching Adam balancing family, work, home, and school encouraged her to challenge herself to excel in all aspects of the MBA for Executives Program. Yinan has been able to excel in all parts of her life while maintaining high academic standards. Yinan will graduate from the MBA Program for Executives with honors.

Catherine Molony
Director, Philadelphia,  Wharton School MBA Program for Executives



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.