Following Your Heart
"I came to Kelley with a very focused and narrow career interest. The life sciences initiative brought Kelley to my radar screen. The program expanded opportunities for people like me with great interest in health care and life sciences companies. The lectures, speakers and projects gave us real world contacts and hands-on experience."
Associate -- Strategic Planning, Abbott Vascular
It was the death of an innocent 14-year old girl that changed Lisa Yu's life forever. During the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989, the teen was standing directly in front of Lisa. Both were stranded on the street as the army started taking action and the young girl was shot down. Even though at the time Lisa was a practicing cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, she could not save the life that had saved hers.
"It was the turning point of my life," recalls Lisa. "The fact that as a heart surgeon, I failed to save an innocent citizen's life has changed my perspective of life and death forever."
Nearly 20 years later, Lisa has positioned herself to save the lives of millions. But instead of the operating room, she's doing it through her work at Abbott Vascular, one of the world's leading vascular care corporations. Making the successful leap from surgeon to business executive is one she credits to her Kelley MBA.
"I came to Kelley with a very focused and narrow career interest. The life sciences initiative brought Kelley to my radar screen," says Lisa. "The program expanded opportunities for people like me with great interest in health care and life sciences companies. The lectures, speakers and projects gave us real-world contacts and hands-on experience."
From Business to Medicine, and Back
The path that led Lisa to Kelley and later to her career in the San Francisco Bay Area began simply enough—selling trinkets in medical school.
While attending medical school in China, part-time jobs for students were very uncommon so Lisa came up with a plan to sell small gifts. Convincing a friend to be her partner, they developed a marketing strategy and selling plan. In just three months, they sold hundreds of their gifts at a profit margin of about 500%. They made more than $200 net profit which was the equivalent to 16 months of food expenses at the school's cafeteria.
"We were really brave," says Lisa of her plan. "I discovered so much about myself and my entrepreneurial spirit. It was my first business and entrepreneurial experience where I discovered I have business potential."
After graduation, Lisa became a surgeon at the Beijing Friendship Hospital. But after five years, she made the decision to pursue a better life with freedom in the United States. She began working in Houston, Texas, a place she now calls her "adopted hometown." It was here that her life again reached another crossroad. Lisa was working in medical research while preparing to become a surgeon in the U.S. But her family life had changed. Now a divorced mother with a young daughter, Lisa knew firsthand that the life of a surgeon comes with an unpredictable schedule. Given family was her priority, the challenge was what to do next.
Lingering in her mind, Lisa remembered her business successes during medical school. She decided to leave the medical field completely and made the leap to the world of finance. She discovered more and more about her innate business sense over the next five years. She became an investment consultant generating more than $15 million in revenue for TD Ameritrade. Even then she was ready for more.
Finding Kelley and Following My Dream
"I knew I wanted to advance my career but there was a huge gap of where I was and where I wanted to be," explains Lisa. "I was trained as a surgeon. I never took any finance, accounting or economics classes in high school or college in my life before Kelley."
"Kelley is a hidden gem. There is a feeling of belonging here," says Lisa. "I knew Kelley would prepare me better than other programs to achieve my goals. Kelley has equipped me with business knowledge and tools to enter a field (marketing) where I had no prior experience. Kelley taught me the knowledge, tools and most importantly, the mind set and way of thinking to be a successful business professional."
But always in her heart is the desire to make a positive impact in the lives of others. Lisa is striving to make a difference with her work at Abbott, a top ten global healthcare company. Her team of professional guides at the Kelley School prepared her to excel in her summer internship at Abbott and secure a full-time position there working in the global marketing strategic planning division. Today, her Kelley MBA and her in-the-field medical experience are helping bring vascular care to new heights.
"I know the products we develop and provide to physicians make substantial impacts on people's lives. Sometimes they are the only option patients have between life and death. Even without direct impact, I feel my work has contributed to part of that."
"I have no regrets that my life has not been the way I planned," recalling her desire to be a medical doctor. "On the contrary, I am happy that I had the opportunity to continue pursuing my dream in a different capacity."