June Yuan (Fin., Ops. Mgmt., SRE ‘23) is one of this year’s Impact Business Buff Award winners. Her peers nominated and selected Yuan because her leadership inspires a commitment to ethics and sustainability in others. During her time at the Leeds School of Business, Yuan became a Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program Ambassador and completed the Social Responsibility and Ethics Certificate. CESR recently sat down with her to reflect on her experiences.
CESR: Reflecting back to the beginning of your undergraduate years, tell me about why you chose to study at the Leeds School of Business.
June: Besides loving the big campus and environment at CU Boulder, the reason why I chose to come to Leeds was because it is still a developing business school with so many opportunities for all students. The school does not have a narrow focus that ushers the students into consulting and investment banking; with CESR, Real Estate, and other programs, there are so many options to explore during your time here.
Another aspect of the school that I love and influenced my decision to come here is the student community at Leeds. The students form a collaborative environment rather than a competitive one. If you are competing, you are competing together.
"I think it is really important that you take advantage of any opportunity that interests you earlier rather than later,"
- says June Yuan
CESR: Tell me about your experience with the SRE Certificate and how you feel it has prepared you to be successful in your career?
June: The SRE Certificate helped me shatter any stereotypes that I had about emerging markets and it helped me boost my creativity by considering different perspectives to solve ethical dilemmas as a business leader.
One of the first classes that I took for the certificate was CESR 4005 “Business Solutions for the Developing World” with Dr. Stacy Edgar. Going in, I thought that no one could do business in developing markets, which is completely untrue, but the big question is: how do we enter these markets in a more sustainable and ethical way? Dr. Edgar did an amazing job of talking to us about the large amount of market opportunity that is overlooked in developing markets. However, you still have to be cautious when taking advantage of those opportunities. The business world that we operate in right now is super saturated – with big corporations like P&G and Unilever – and everyone has different answers as to how ethical their business is. Emerging markets are a breath of fresh air that allows you to root for the underdog. They can make tailored solutions that address sustainability and social needs while maintaining successful business.
Another class that I took was CESR 4130 “Sustainable Operations” with Professor Joe Dobrow. I always thought that being sustainability minded was not something that I could do easily, but the course gave a very intensive overview of everything you need to and should know about sustainability in order to conduct more “green business.” Gaining the perspective of being green and the history of people trying to be green was really insightful.
I also took the CESR 4000 “Leadership Challenges” course. We had a case competition every two weeks, helping me learn more about working within a quick timeline and with different groups of people each time. We worked to solve ethical dilemmas, and it was always nice to have multiple different perspectives on how to approach ethical issues.
"The SRE Certificate helped me shatter any stereotypes that I had about emerging markets and it helped me boost my creativity by considering different perspectives to solve ethical dilemmas as a business leader,"
- says June Yuan
CESR: Why is sustainability and ESG education important for business students?
June: The first reason is more obvious and external. As we look at the current business world, there are many environmental issues that need to be addressed. Some people do this the wrong way, by just greenwashing or slapping on a label to meet market standards and consider it “good enough.” There is a demand for students who have a sustainable mindset but are also innovative and can maintain profitability. ESG and sustainability education in business schools is really important to give us the tools so that we can make being green profitable rather than just a “fad.”
The second reason comes from a more internal need. Our generation sees the effects of not being sustainability minded and how we have to deal with the consequences that are looming over us. Sure, there is a market demand for individuals that have sustainability and ESG education, but taking advantage of such educational opportunities can also benefit everyone in the future. For us, it is important to know how we can start learning about it now.
CESR: What are some of your favorite things about being at Leeds that you will miss?
June: I enjoy doing case competitions and engagements. I think that’s because I am a true LCGer (Leeds Consulting Group) at heart, in the sense that I love teamwork and having a little bit of a competitive edge that will push me. I love it, whether it’s a six-month-long engagement working with project clients through LCG or a three-week-long case competition. My second one is a little cheesy, but I will miss the people. I genuinely enjoyed getting to know so many people who are so passionate about different things. I feel dumb around them sometimes, but that is a good thing! It pushes me to learn more about them and their interests. Even with people that I am a little apprehensive about at first, it pushes me to get to know them a little more. Since it is such a small business school, I feel like I have had at least one class with most of the people here, and I have been able to connect with a good number of them.
"There is a demand for students who have a sustainable mindset but are also innovative and can maintain profitability,"
- says June Yuan
CESR: As a graduating senior, what advice do you have for current and future business Buffs?
June: I think it is really important that you take advantage of any opportunity that interests you earlier rather than later. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to get involved later on; I wasn’t involved with the Daniels Ethics Fund until my junior year, but I wish I became involved in it earlier. Oftentimes it’s really uncomfortable to start something new because you might not know anyone, or you might show up to a club as a second-year student with no one that you know. Just take the risk, because the worst thing that will happen is that you won’t like it.
That being said, I joined way too many clubs my freshman year. I didn’t really have a specific passion area at that time. Do what makes you passionate, and don’t do something just for your resume. That way, you can fully put your heart into it and see where it leads you.
Following graduation, June plans to spend the summer traveling internationally before starting as a Business Technology Solutions Analyst at Deloitte. She hopes to continue pursuing her passions in baking, dreaming of eventually attending pastry school.