Yoyo Wu MBA 14 Yoyo Wu Takes Charge of Her Brand

Yoyo Wu remembers sitting on the roof of her middle school with her best friend Ray, talking about the Internet and using his first computer, an Intel Pentium MMX 166.

It was 1998, and they were caught up in the excitement and luck of having a computer with net access in their small town in southern China.

Over the years, their dreams and their relationship evolved. They married, immersed themselves in their careers—and two years ago had a daughter.

Wu, now a full-time MBA student, earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Jinan University in China. She worked five years as an accountant and auditor there before moving to the Bay Area in 2010 for her husband’s software engineering job.

She’s brought deep international business experience to the School’s community. With her MBA, Wu says that she and her husband hope to one day launch a high-tech startup together. She would be chief financial officer, a role that includes both accounting and financial analysis.

Wu started her career with Big-Four accounting firm KPMG LLP in China as an auditor in the banking industry. She managed teams auditing banks, credit unions and insurance companies.

She enjoyed KPMG but also wanted exposure to different industries. She moved to Ernest & Young in China, where she worked in the company’s new risk-management department, auditing the operations of Internet, electrical, chemical and cosmetic manufacturing companies. “My job was to find solutions for clients who did not have enough human resources or in-house expertise,” she says.  

After a one-year stint at Ernest & Young, Wu moved to the Beijing-based NSFOCUS Information Technology Co. Ltd, a leading computer network security company with subsidiaries in the United States and Japan. NSFOCUS hired Wu without a job description. The company was growing fast—and ultimately went public on January 29, 2014.

Wu established herself as the internal auditor. She developed a risk assessment model, looking at general risks—which can occur in any industry—and risks specific to the company. Her job was tough. Colleagues mistrusted her motives. She worked hard to change that image.

“Usually people don’t like auditors,” she says. “They were always reviewing what you have done and trying to figure out what you have done wrong and report that to your boss.”

To gain their trust and respect, she joined some of the company’s social clubs, including an English language club and a running club, even though she doesn’t run. She wanted her colleagues to get to know her “nice and easy-going” personality. Once they did, she figured, they would realize her motives were good.

Her hard work paid off for that job and for her future studies. “I found it was very useful when I came to business school and people talk about ‘personal branding’,” Wu says. “I felt I had already done so in my previous job. [Your job] is just one of your brands. I tried hard to protect my brand.”

At the School, Wu became an MBA Ambassador, helping prospective students learn more about the culture and student experience at UC Davis. She also became president of the Women in Leadership Club and focused on bringing in successful businesswomen to share with students how they have balanced a high-powered career, children, a partner and other responsibilities.

“There’s always a need for women leaders,” she says. “I see the glass ceiling is not as strong as before, so I see a lot of potential for women to develop their career in companies. Our vision would be: ‘Just go for it’.”

An internship last summer at Brocade provided Wu with valuable exposure to a high-tech company in Silicon Valley. “Working in the finance department to collaborate with different functions, I saw how revenue was generated, how money was spent to pull business, how processes and people’s mindsets evolved as projects and the company grew,” she says. “My team members were all at the manager level, and I learned about people development and leadership styles.”

This, combined with her academic and other experiences at the School, Wu says, provide a good foundation for her career. “With my dream and skillset lining up with the emerging cloud era, I am heading toward a strategic and forward-thinking finance job in the Bay Area.”