#WorkingWomenWednesday Kathy Yuh

For today’s #WorkingWomenWednesday, we’re featuring Kathy Yuh. I met Kathy in January 2019 at a Harvard Business School Admissions event. Personally, I was amazed, astounded and intimidated by her. She was a former investment banker like myself, but she had made the transition to the even tougher private equity industry. Then in business school, she became our cohort’s President and the student government’s Chief Strategy Officer. Kathy has been able to manage more hats than I ever could and she does it all so gracefully. Therefore, when I wanted to feature real women doing amazing things - she was a no brainer to choose. Read more to learn about Kathy!

1.      What do you currently do?

Hello! I’m a rising 2nd year student at Harvard Business School. This past summer for my internship, I’m working as Strategy & Launch intern for Perfect Day, a food startup pioneering animal-free dairy (vegan, lactose-free, sustainable, without giving up dairy!). I help guide our long-term strategy through market research, and I assist with near-term product launches and customer partnerships.

 2.      What excites you most about your career path?

Before business school, I worked in finance and investing covering CPG and retail industries. I was buried in Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides analyzing businesses without truly understanding how their products came about from start to finish, or how to build a team to make it happen. I hope my future career will allow me to learn firsthand the time, dedication and energy it takes to tackle a new market and to bring a concept to a finished product, while leading a team I love to work with.

3.      What struggles have you battled to get to where you are today?

I’m not going to dress up anything – I’m very lucky and privileged, in that I’ve had a stable home, parents who put education above all else, and mentors/sponsors every step of the way who took a chance on me.

Aware that the term ‘struggle’ is relative: my biggest struggle has been dealing with the hypermasculine environment in finance, where on many occasions I was the only woman in the workplace, in a client meeting, in a boardroom, etc. I didn’t truly overcome it until I got to business school where I met other women who told similar stories – only then I realized, I wasn’t crazy for feeling the immense self-consciousness that no one looked like me, the inescapable self-doubt that I didn’t belong at the table. But I’m thankful for the experience – the emotional struggles of being the only female (or only [insert anything]) in a group have made me acutely aware of how we need to empathize and support the minority in a team.

4.      How have you been working during COVID?

Think everyone feels this: the line between work vs. home, work time vs. relax time, or weekday vs. weekend, is disappearing! Here’s my bizarre way to stay on track with my priorities: I schedule every hour of the day with blocks like “Finish [priority xyz]” or “Work out time” or “Go to groceries”, and make sure I cover what I absolutely want to get done that day. Sounds nuts, but it works!

5.      What challenges do you hope to change in the industry you’re currently in/aiming to be in?

Whether in the big CPG companies or startups, there are still very few women at the top, and even fewer Asian American women at the top. I hope to make a dent in that problem and show that women who look like me can be a force in business and great leaders.

6.      Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Every year I look back and think, “Wow, I would never have expected myself to be here!” I think we underestimate how much we can change! But one can dream – in 5 years I hope to have started a family (or planning to), working for a food/beverage company making change in how we eat, and… living abroad in a different continent!

7.      What does success mean to you?

Success for me is constant and intentional self-improvement. I used to believe success is “finding work I love” or “maintaining fulfilling relationships”. These visions are pretty hard to define or attain. So instead, I try to set realistic and purposeful goals that get me closer and closer to the broader vision. Then, success is directing my everyday actions and life towards those incremental goals.

8.      What makes you feel confident?

A good cup of coffee. Okay seriously speaking, I still find confidence through external validation – someone nodding at my comment, my manager agreeing with me, or my mom telling me I bought the right style of clothing. I really need to find confidence internally, so that even if others say no, as long as my thinking was judicious, I can stand my own two feet.

9.      Who inspires you?

Cheesy, but my parents. They are the living examples of hard work, (calculated) risk-taking and self-invention. Their life stories teach me that I can change the trajectory of my life, that scary is not always dangerous (and almost always fun!), and that I’m not wedded to one version of myself.

10.  What’s your personal mission statement?

Live an extraordinary life!

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