Yaping Cheng (MS ’15, Forestry & Environmental Studies)

What is your current profession/job? What did you study at Yale? When did you graduate?

Currently I work as an Industry Analyst at GE Appliances’ Silicon Valley Innovation Center, seeking out innovative solutions to specific technology challenges. I graduated from Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in 2015 with my Master’s in Environmental Management.

What do you like most about your current role? What do you find most challenging and/ or rewarding?

What I like most about my current role is the opportunity to have direct impact on the evolution of an industry. I used to work in management consulting, while partnering with Fortune 500 companies from various sectors was exciting, a high volume of short-duration projects might not be the best way to develop deep understanding of a particular industry.

How did your time at Yale shape your career trajectory? What are the main skills that you acquired at Yale which help make you successful in your current career?

I was able to expand my knowledge of various subjects at Yale, ranging from environmental science and public policy to statistics and investment management. More importantly, I learned how to deal with my inner insecurity during my time at Yale and continued to gain strength from this experience. Not coming from a privileged background, Yale can be a little intimidating. But as Lloyd Blankfein, CEO at Goldman Sachs, said, “Once I realized I belonged, I became more ambitious. Ambition is your inner voice that tells you you can and should strive to go beyond your circumstances or station in life”.

Did you acquire any professional experience related to your line of work while during school (either through part-time work, volunteering, networking, or other forms of training)?

My current role focuses on technology investment, which requires both technical understanding of engineering/material science/energy efficiency etc. and investment knowledge in market trend, valuation, acquisition, etc. I’m glad that I took courses from many different schools at Yale and that wide exposure was very helpful.

What is the biggest challenge that you face in transitioning to the US workplace? What do you suggest current students do to prepare for those challenges?

While I might not (and likely never will) have an advantage over my American peers in English and cultural sensitivity (i.e. pursuing a career in marketing/journalism/business development can be ultra-tough for me), my technical capability and ability to work well with diverse teams are strong. And therefore I suggest you all take some time to think through your life choices and experiences, and figure out what your strength and weakness are. Developing and adjusting your personal strategy goes a long way.