From application to graduation: the Business Perspectives experience from recent alumni

There's a lot of thinking that goes into the decision to attend our Yale business certification. That's why we sat down with three recent alumni to ask them about why they applied, their program experience, and advice for future attendees.

What inspired you to consider the Yale business certification program?

Alia HassanI've been interested in the intersection of creativity and business for quite some time. In fact, it's why I ended up pursuing an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree—Bachelor of Humanities and Arts from Carnegie Mellon University, and I studied communication design at the School of Design and policy and management at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. I began my career as a designer and became the global director of design at Blue State Digital. As such, my responsibilities at work were becoming increasingly managerial and business-oriented, which I enjoyed and wanted to lean into.

Randy J. Hunt: I was looking to connect with other design leaders, to learn about their challenges and how they've addressed them. I figured an academic environment would be a place to find like-minded people looking to share and learn. Turns out, that was true. And learning together is a great way to bond.

Stacey Fatica: I found myself being involved in more and more executive-level meetings, and I needed to make the case for how design was relevant to long-term businesses goals. Yale enabled me to build that case and present it to key stakeholders.

Did you have any fears before registering?

Randy: Can I get the pre-work done? That was really the biggest concern in advance. Turned out it was really fun, though time-consuming. The pre-work was critical. If I hadn't done it, I would have been lacking context for several of the classes. They built on the pre-work and referred to the material in the case study readings.

Was anything challenging about the program?

Alia: Balancing thorough preparation for each session in order to get the most out of them with taking time to get to know my colleagues on a personal and professional level.

Did anything surprise you?

Stacey: I walked away from Yale with multiple resources—but the most important was a strong network of passionate design professionals that understands the value of design, an integral part of business.

Can you remember a favorite learning moment?

Alia: Going back to my interest in the intersection of creativity and business, I had always envisioned myself studying design during college, working in the field of design, and eventually expanding my toolkit by getting an M.B.A. Interests and plans change over time, but the program at Yale confirmed that that's actually still something I wanted to pursue. So I did! I graduated with an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School a couple of years after the program at Yale.

Randy: The operations workshop made me rethink how to approach processes and systems.

Stacey: Bruce Tulgan's class on managing people from different generations was one of my favorite lectures at Yale. I was able to quickly take away frameworks for engaging, developing, and retaining my younger employees. His books Not Everyone Gets A Trophy and The 27 Challenges Managers Face have been a go-to resource ever since.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about attending this program?

Alia: The program is a big time, energy, and financial commitment. Be clear on what you're trying to get out of the program. Do you want to learn more about a specific topic? Form new connections with people in areas of specialization that differ from yours? Get a sense of whether you're actually interested in the business side of design in order to influence where you focus your energy back at work? Then sketch out a rough plan of how you might set yourself up to succeed in pursuing that goal at Yale. The program goes by really quickly, so this is one way to help make the most of it!

Randy: Do the pre-work. It was really fun and enjoyable to engage with, and that allowed me to fully participate in the class discussions.

Stacey: The Yale BPCL program is a bit pricey but 100 percent worth the investment in my career.

Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders is back July 22–27, 2018. Deadline for application is June 29.