Featured Alumni Yvonne Chao
Yvonne Chao '07
VP, Citi Community Capital
What attracted you to the SEEK Program? If you graduated from Kellogg prior to SEEK being offered as a major, what drew you to courses relating to CSR, social responsibility or nonprofit management?
The SEEK program was announced just prior to my first year at Kellogg (class of 2007). I had long been interested in combining my professional business background with my interest in socially-minded organizations, and I found that Kellogg had a great program and network that would allow me to do this. It also helped to speak to recent alums working at places like Bridgespan as well as to Liz Howard - these conversations really helped to cement my decision to attend Kellogg.
What attracted you to the Public Non Profit (PNP) Club, Students for Responsible Business (SRB) Club or Social Impact Club (SIC)?
I liked that Social Impact was not just a community service club, like BWAH, and was instead for people who are interested in working in the social sector for a career. It was great to meet like-minded people through the club. I've also found the Social Impact alumni network to be hugely helpful, as I obtained my current job after having many informational interviews with Kellogg alums who were heavily involved in Social Impact during their time at Kellogg.
What value did you get from your experiences with the SEEK Program, or in courses relating to CSR, social responsibility or nonprofit management at Kellogg?
I developed a much clearer sense of what I wanted to do career-wise in the social sector. I had come into Kellogg wanting to go into venture philanthropy, mostly because I had heard about the sector before business school and it sounded like a great mix of business mindedness and social mission. Being at Kellogg and meeting classmates, professors and alumni opened my eyes to the other types of jobs that are business-oriented but also focused on a social mission.
How have those experiences been helpful to you in your daily life, both professionally and personally?
My full-time job search was all off-campus and I relied heavily on the alumni network. For me, it was really all about the people I was able to meet because of Kellogg - through classes, conferences, clubs and activities, etc. I've had a professor put me in touch with colleagues and acquaintances, who introduced me to someone else at their firm who used to have a job that I was interested in. I've met an alum who has become my mentor and has helped steer me toward my current position at Citibank Community Development, where another Kellogg alum currently works. I've also been able to get invaluable advice from professors, through people I met at the various Kellogg conferences, and from the myriad of alums who have responded to my emails quickly and enthusiastically.
My SEEK coursework has also taught me to think about the various outputs that a company produces - while a finance class taught me how to think about the financial bottom line, my SEEK class would teach me to think about the potential second-order effects of business decisions and how those may or should impact the decision-making process of a company's management team.
What is the name of your current organization, and what does your organization do?
I work for the National Lending and Investments team of Citi Community Capital, which is part of Citigroup. We provide wholesale lending to and investments in funds that provide capital for affordable housing, charter school facilities, renewable energy, historical preservation, etc.
Please briefly describe your position or role at your organization.
How are you applying the skills/knowledge you learned at Kellogg in your career?
In the few short weeks I've been here, I have been able to apply my finance background as well as material I learned in my Kellogg finance and real estate classes. As I get more involved in deals, I'm sure I'll be able to apply more of what I learned at Kellogg.