2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Yu Shu, INSEAD/Tsinghua University

Yu Shu

INSEAD/Tsinghua University

“Curious finance professional turned factory manager now onto my new journey – anything is possible.”

Age: 39

Hometown: Shanghai, China; Chiba, Japan

Family Members: Parents and one brother

Fun fact about yourself: My name means “journey” in both Chinese and Japanese, and I am determined to make it an exciting one.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Babson College, Bachelor of Science in Finance

Where are you currently working? JCA Motor Co., Ltd. I am currently in a transitional period of my career; simultaneously preparing the launch of my own start-up that will service the senior population of Asia and beyond, all while overseeing the reorganization of our small family trading business.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: As I am currently attending the Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA while managing my family business and working on my start-up, I do not have much time left over for extracurricular activities. However, I do enjoy visiting the local senior centers during my downtime, to spend quality time with them and do what I can to brighten their day.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The Leadership Development Program (LDP) is the one part of the program I have truly loved and I am proud of the achievements we have made and will continue to make as a group in the future, guided by the indispensable support from our coach. To me, LDP is essentially a support mechanism that every leader should have but it’s rare to come by. With full psychological safety, the subjective yet genuine feedback and action plans are extremely valuable.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Having the strength of will to take the decision to shut down a 20-year manufacturing operation in China that supported our family. In a family business setting, letting go of something that is essentially a part of you, but that is no longer serving its purpose, takes courage. I took full responsibility at the time, made the decision, executed, and concluded the sale six months prior to the strike of COVID-19 in China. I was fortunate that I followed through with what needed to be done, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program?

I chose the TIEMBA because of its diversity, entrepreneurial class/alumni profile, and (most importantly) because I had already crossed paths with many brilliant alumni that inspired me from both Tsinghua and INSEAD.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The discussions, the travels, our diversified cohort and all the brand new perspectives brought to our class discussions.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The power of teamwork and how to build a team. My experiences in a team setting were rather limited in my earlier career. However, at the TIEMBA, we are put into different groups for almost everything, usually under strict time constraints and often from across the globe. Many interesting and even some painful lessons were learned throughout these projects and they will no doubt to be applied to my upcoming start-up.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I am fortunate to have the luxury of time, relative to many EMBA classmates. As this is a transitional period in my career, I have been able to devote the time needed without too much personal or professional sacrifice. In reality, the EMBA is fueling my desire to develop my own business and is acting as a sounding board for my business plan.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Be clear about your purpose, since an EMBA is a huge investment of time, money, and most importantly, yourself. Once that’s clear, just dive in and enjoy the journey!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I was concerned that the importance of social events would be valued over classroom learnings. Although “networking” is something everyone expects to be doing in a business school, I was not sure if I was up to network purely for the purpose of “networking”. And the truth is, the classroom learning and academic workload left us very limited time for purely social events. Rather magically, this enabled us to squeeze time in for much deeper and meaningful conversations with each other. I really feel I came to the right place for genuine “networking”.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I really wished I had more time to spend with my fellow classmates. The modules are always a whirlwind of classes and activities over a very short time. But I know I have made life-long friends and we will continue to support each other for decades to come, I’m sure.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Keith Martin, one of my LDP group members. As a fellow small business owner, Keith has impressively grown healthy drinks and snacks retail chain under the Irish brand “Zumo” for the past 10 years in France. He joined the EMBA program, like me, to strengthen his business acumen and to look for new and exciting career challenges. Keith is frank, dedicated, principled, and extremely passionate in making positive changes for the class despite the difficulties we all now face. During the worldwide quarantine period of COVID-19, Keith took the lead to start a virtual book club for our class so that we remain connected and engaged all over the world and that we further our learning together through insightful discussions.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that I wanted to start my own business but I was in an environment without enough meaningful feedback.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To create a long-lasting business that serves the senior populations of the world and to put a smile on their faces every day.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?

I want to be remembered as trustworthy, helpful, and genuine.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Set foot on all of the continents.

Open a coffee shop on a beach of Greece.

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

“What Yu brings to the programme goes far beyond his Finance and Economics diploma from Babson College. She spent 18 years working for her family’s business, which manufactures and trades in micro motors in China and Japan. Her previous experience as an Analyst in Japan and Hong Kong makes Yu Shu a well-rounded candidate for the TIEMBA programme. The icing on the cake: upon graduating from the EMBA programme, she is planning to create a start-up to serve seniors in need and their caretakers, a perfect example of business as a force for good.”

Teresa Peiro-Camaro
Associate Director
INSEAD Executive MBA Admissions


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