By Lauren Wallace
Diandian (Selina) Yi, currently a second year residential MBA student at Darden, is originally from Shenzhen, China. She received her BBA from the City University of Hong Kong in 2011 and previously worked in risk management consulting at Ernst & Young in China. Selina is involved in various organizations and clubs at Darden, including Asia Business Club at Darden, Graduate Women in Business, Outdoor Club, and more.
Since beginning her MBA program, Selina Yi has embraced the various global experiences that Darden has to offer. She travelled to Sweden last spring for a Darden.Worldwide Course, spent a week in the Philippines last December for a Global Consulting Project, and is preparing for another Darden.Worldwide Course in the European Union this spring led by Darden’s Dean, Scott Beardsley. Her lengthiest global experience through Darden took place last summer over an 11-week span in Amman, Jordan. Selina discovered and took hold of this internship opportunity through Darden’s Career Development Center.
From late May to mid-August 2016, Selina worked with the National Microfinance Bank (NMB) as an intern consultant charged with designing a new microfinance insurance product. The NMB is a private nonprofit development company that offers financial and non-financial services to micro and small entrepreneurs in Jordan, particularly women and youth. “One aspect of that is providing loans,” Selina explained; “…the interest [on those loans] doesn’t go to stakeholders but rather to trainings, activities, and other insurances that help their customers. That’s how [NMB] uses the money it makes.” In her role of intern consultant, Selina developed and proposed a new kind of property insurance product that NMB could offer to their clients. She was inspired to pursue property insurance as her project proposal after visiting with and interviewing numerous NMB customers. She learned that many clients operate their side businesses and entrepreneurial ventures out of their home, yet “typical property insurance is inaccessible to these clients because their businesses don’t meet the requirements”. Her research led her to recommend a unique insurance product that combines both work and personal property insurance better-suited to micro and small entrepreneurs. NMB is still working with the Arab Orient Insurance, a member of the Gulf Insurance Group, on the details of Selina’s proposal to determine if it can be launched.
“It was a huge learning experience for me this summer,” Selina acknowledged. “It was my first time working with a nonprofit. I learned that nonprofits are managed just like businesses, the only difference is vision.” This lesson would later help her in the Philippines during her Global Consulting Project onsite visit where she worked closely with a nonprofit private school. “Any manager can run a business, but a great manager needs to believe in the cause. Our work was very valuable, but business should just be the approach. [This experience] has helped me become a better manager.”
Selina would love to return to the Middle East to work if the opportunity arose. “I totally enjoyed my time,” Selina recalled. “Jordan is fantastic. I liked it so much I convinced my parents to come visit me!” She visited many cultural heritage and historical sites in Jordan and beyond, including a weekend trip to Israel. “While I was in the Middle East people would ask me if I ever actually did any work because I travelled so much!” Selina has accepted a consulting position with Ernst & Young in New York City and is looking forward to beginning her life after graduation in New York this summer.
Selina shared some photos that she took and taken of her while in Jordan over the summer: