"We Are GSM" - Meet Professor Ayako Yasuda

Professor of Finance Ayako Yasuda shares about her pioneering research on the private equity industry and the responsible investment movementas well as her love of food and cooking!

She is an internationally recognized financial economist known for her work on technology finance, venture capital, private equity, entrepreneurial finance, and sustainable and responsible finance. She is a fellow of the Muir Institute for the Environment and of the Private Equity Research Consortium. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford in 2001, and a B.A. in quantitative economics (Dean’s Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa) from Stanford in 1993.

She previously held academic positions at Wharton and UC Berkeley, as an independent director position at the Japan Investment Corporation, and was an analyst at Goldman Sachs.

From Wall Street to Academia

When I was an undergraduate at Stanford, my undergraduate thesis advisor had a big impact on me, and he encouraged me to go into graduate school. I went against his advice and after I graduated, I went and worked at Goldman Sachs. At Goldman Sachs, I started out in New York but quickly asked to be transferred to Tokyo, which is where my family still lived and I'm from. And it was great because it's a relatively small office and I learned a ton while I worked with capital markets people. After a while though, I realize that my adviser was right, I really love doing research. And I loved the life of being a professor. And I went back and got my Ph.D. in economics.

Balancing Profit and Purpose

I study impact funds, which is a kind of venture capital funds, but with a dual objective of both financial returns and either social or environmental impact. Among the investors who choose to invest in impact funds they are willing to accept, relative to traditional VC funds, about two to three percent a year lower financial return in expectation. So, I think the significance of this finding is that more and more investors have a more complex objective, where they want to balance financial wellbeing, with the actual impact or outcomes of your investment decisions for the greater, broader society and the environment.

Achieving Success through Collaboration

After graduate school, my first appointment as professor was at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. California beckoned me back and in 2009, I started my appointment here at UC Davis. I teach a core finance class in the MBA program. I love teaching this class because I get to meet everyone in the cohort. I want to teach people why finance matters, regardless of your specialization. Finance is the lifeblood of every business project. So, ultimately you need to prove that you're adding value to the business by measuring the financial net cash flow impact of your project.

Success in business can sound intimidating and very competitive. When the environment is more collaborative and you're encouraged to speak, you’re more likely to grow. And I can say that at GSM, our culture is 100 percent collaboration, and that makes the business education more accessible to anyone from any background because of that culture we have.

Davis Food Culture

Food is very important to me. I'm a big cook. I'm a baker. That's also another thing that I love about GSM and UC Davis is that we are very food-based. I'm always looking forward to like the next big meal I'm cooking. And so right now, the next one that I’m looking forward to is Thanksgiving. I have a daughter in college, so I'm looking forward to seeing her come home and cooking up a big turkey and made-from-scratch pumpkin pie.


We Are GSM.