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Real Humans of Nissan Motor Corporation: Ruiyi Chen, Duke Fuqua ’19, Product Strategist

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Digitization, increasing automation, changing business models, and new climate goals are revolutionizing the automobile industry. One of the key players of the global auto revolution is Nissan, a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer. As one of the largest automakers globally, Nissan strives to make cars that change the world. As a Product Strategist at Nissan, Ruiyi Chen, Duke MBA ’19, aims to be a part of this impact, which is also why he decided to obtain his MBA at Duke.

In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we hear how Ruiyi Chen has combined his understanding of technology with business skills learned through his MBA experience to have a more impactful career. We also learn about how this experience prepared him for his current career by encouraging strategic thinking and connecting him to other alumni who helped him grow. Read on to learn more about what inspired this former-engineer to make the move to business and how his MBA has benefitted his career plans.   

Ruiyi Chen
Ruiyi Chen, Duke Fuqua ’19, Product Strategist

Ruiyi Chen, Duke Fuqua ’19, Product Strategist at Nissan Motor Corporation

Age: 34
Hometown: Zhejiang, China
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Zhejiang University: Electrical Engineering
Graduate Business School and Graduation Year: Duke University, The Fuqua School of Business Class of 2019
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 4 years, technology

Why did you choose to attend business school? Initially, I thought my passion was all about R&D, which is why I got a PhD degree and started my career as an engineer. I then had opportunities to work with corporate strategy colleagues and saw how their jobs were having an impact. I knew that combining my understanding of technology with business knowledge could result in a bigger impact so I went ahead and applied for business school.

Why Duke Fuqua? Which factors influenced your decision? I was influenced mostly by the alumni. The first few people who introduced me to the world of business schools were from Fuqua. I was also inspired by another outstanding Fuqua alumnus: Tim Cook. He is the type of tech leader I want to be.

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice? I did an internship as a Software Product Manager at Lenovo U.S. At that time, we were expecting a baby and it was inconvenient to move. I then decided to find a local internship in tech in 

The Research Triangle area in North Carolina so that I could best take care of my family.

Why did you choose to work for your current company? First, I recognized that the revolution of the automotive industry has begun. I want to be part of this revolution and make an impact, which was my initial reasoning behind attending business school. Nissan is one of the few automotive companies offering leadership programs for MBAs. Second, the leadership program was well-designed for candidates to grow. My experience up until this point has proved that my choice was correct.

How did your MBA experience prepare you for your current career? The MBA experience prepared me in two ways. First is the strategic way of thinking that I learned. I am able to think more comprehensively when solving a complex business problem from marketing, finance, operation, and management points of view. The other benefit is the alumni network, not only the Fuqua alumni but also all of the MBAs in my company.

What advice would you give to a current MBA student? My advice is to do more-than-enough research on your target company. The more detail you have, the better. This gives you enough topics during networking sessions and helps with small talk during interviews.

What do you wish you would have known? I wish I would have known more about the opportunities to work with professors on their research programs earlier. It was fun and refreshing, but it’s not something you can experience after graduation.  

Is there anything you would have done differently? I would have reached out to more alumni from other business schools. Most people are willing to help and can bring broader knowledge.

Learn about more business school alumni like Ruiyi Chen by exploring our Real Humans: Alumni series.

To see what current students from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke are up to, visit their Real Humans: Students profiles.

Maggie Fedorocsko
Maggie Fedorocsko is a freelance writer and editor who recently graduated from Drexel University. When she’s not wordsmithing, she enjoys reading, hiking, camping, cooking, and buying far too many antiques and plants for her quaint Philadelphia apartment.