Inspirational Woman: Yingying Li | Investment Manager at CHINA STATE CONSTRUCTION (CSCEC)

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role

When I was 22-years-old, I graduated from university and went to Congo for work. I stayed there for four years. Before the MBA at HEC Paris business school, I was key account manager and project manager in a telecommunication company. Now I am an investment manager in CSCEC, the biggest construction company in the world who wants to transform from construction industry to real estate investment. My responsibility of the role is to explore and find strategic and profitable real estate projects for CSCEC in Algeria.

  1. Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

During the MBA, there are lots of discussions and seminars about career development. The core concept of these discussions is about what you want to do, what you can do and what are your assets. For me the most important part was to understand myself better: passions, fears, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. I needed to find what my drivers in life and work were, plus what my priorities were, through psychological tests and discussion with colleagues and coaches. It helped me to connect what I wanted to do and what I could do.

  1. How/why did you make the decision to move to the Democratic Republic of Congo?

I studied French in university and French is the official language of DRC. At the same time, China invested lots of projects in Congo and I found it a good opportunity to start an international career and live in a completely different culture.

  1. Despite great career success in Africa, you decided to move to France to complete an MBA – what made you want to do this?

Before the MBA, I was project manager of a big telecom project. In my work, I found it challenging to handle financial analysis, marketing strategies, sales, and the management of a team of 40 people all at the same time. So I decided to take the opportunity to learn the important skills and knowledge to become a better manager. It was a long-term investment for my career.

  1. What do you think you got out of your MBA degree?

The more you know, the more you dare is the motto of HEC Paris. The best thing that MBA brings to me is more possibilities in life and in my career. Knowing more about myself and this world allows me think about things that I wouldn’t have thought of before, such as the potential to become an entrepreneur.

Another important takeaway for me is the ability to understand people from different cultures and backgrounds. In my class of 68 students, there were 38 nationalities. It was an amazing experience to learn from them.

The HEC Paris alumni network is also very strong, especially in Europe. If you know what you want to do, the alumni always try to be helpful.

  1. What advice would you give to someone looking to do an MBA degree?

To do an MBA is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It’s very challenging, and quite a financial investment, but worthwhile. I think the business knowledge, the network and the experiences will benefit your career, especially if you already know what you want and can work towards that.

If you are not sure yet whether to take an MBA, I would suggest that you try to talk to someone with similar background who did an MBA. LinkedIn is a great way to find them.

  1. How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?

I didn’t really have a mentor or mentor others. But I had some similar mentoring experiences with a program called The Executive Committee (TEC), when I had opportunities to discuss important professional and life topics with senior people. I learned lots of important life lessons from them, so I think it would be a great experience to have mentor.

  1. What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I want to be an entrepreneur in the future. I know it means lots of effort and risk, but the opportunity of realizing original ideas and having a truly fulfilling career seems more than worth it.

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