Wenjie Yao is a healthcare researcher with an altruistic vision. “My dream job was to become a scientist in my childhood, and my goal of pursuing a Ph.D. was something I had for a long time.” As a researcher in pharma focused on gene and cell therapy, Wenjie thrives on novelty and challenges. “What could be more challenging than immersing myself in another culture rather than living in my own bubble,” she smiles. “That is also one of the main reasons I decided to purse my Ph.D. abroad rather than in China.” She obtained her doctorate degree in biology at the University of Cologne in 2020. “It’s not just a place where great scientific research is taking place, but also a city full of diverse cultures. I gained my scientific knowledge and skills, also broadened my cultural perspective during my study journey in Cologne.”
This eagerness for challenges also led Wenjie to expand her skills with an MBA program. “I made a career transition last year, leading me to move into industry,” she says. “Now, my long-term goal is to build efficient teams and organizations, to tackle the deadliest diseases of the world, to deliver medicine with affordable price and excellent quality to patients. To do that, I need to build that business perspective to fill the gap in my knowledge, and equip me with the business knowledge, management and leadership skills as an effective and impactful leader.”
Wenjie subsequently joined the WHU Part-Time MBA program, citing the ability to balance her studies with her work life as a reason for choosing the WHU. “The integrated personal leadership module and the Career Center at WHU are unique to the school, and I believe it can help accelerate my career development. Furthermore, I enjoy meeting people with different backgrounds, and the international cohort is a perfect fit for me. The spirit of the MBA program is very motivating too; I feel everyone is pushing the boundaries, is eager to grow, to become our best selves.”
Something close to Wenjie’s heart is the topic of gender equality. WHU offers avenues to explore this topic further, such as through the student clubs, i.e., Women in Business. “It’s an opportunity to network with others but also advocate for gender equality alongside those who are passionate about the topic.” However, she also brings an added perspective from the healthcare industry.
“If you search via Google, you will see a lot of publications with regards to gender and even racial bias in medical research and clinical trials. There was an act passed in 1993 in the USA (NIH Revitalization Act), where women and minorities were mandated to be included in clinical trials. Before that, they were not. It’s something so simple and so obvious, but if you are not in the scientific community, you’re not aware of it. It is not just about improving the gender bias in healthcare systems. It’s also empowering women in the industry who will pave the way to truly equitable healthcare.”
Born in a small village in the north of China, Wenjie came from a disadvantaged background, facing gender bias from an early age when boys were favored over girls. Taking no interest in any traditional ideas of what a girl can or cannot do, Wenjie followed her love for STEM subjects. “I grew up in an underprivileged environment, but in some ways, it helped me,” she explains. “It made me more determined to support others and to be more aware of diversity and equality. And much like working together in the MBA program, diversity can really benefit us all. We just need to learn to utilize each other’s strengths and help each other improve our weaknesses.”
“My ultimate wish is that I can realize my dream of delivering medicine with best quality to improve and extend people’s life. But also, make it affordable and accessible to patients around the world. There is a lot of inequality around the world concerning healthcare. Through the MBA, I hope to learn how to improve those systems and produce medicine without compromise.”