Oct 2017

Meet the LGBTQ MBA Fellows: Aaron Lai

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The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year (or $20,000 total for his/her/their two years) in addition free access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBTQ mentors, digital programming, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows.  Since the inception of the ROMBA Fellowship 129 students have received over US$6.2M in scholarship support from participating schools.

This fall Reaching Out welcomed the third class of the ROMBA Fellows. These 56 fellows come from 35 top business schools and over the next month we’ll introduce each of them to you.

41 MBA programs will be part of the Fellowship for the 2017-2018 application cycle. To learn about the Fellowship and let schools know of your interest here.


Aaron is a first year MBA candidate at Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School. Previously, Aaron was a senior auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers where he worked with more 20+ companies throughout Asia. He has extensive experience in fields such as accounting, auditing, internal control, risk management, legal compliance, etc. Aaron graduated from National Taipei University in Taiwan, where he majored in accounting and minored in financial management. He grew up in South Africa and later spent his life living in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. Outside of his professional life, Aaron is a financial advisor for the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, the main NPO in Taiwan advocating for equal marriage rights which also trail blazed Taiwan to become the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage. Aaron is also a fervent soccer fan and avid reader of fantasy novels.

What made you consider business school?
After working in the accounting/finance industry for 5 years, I realized that I wasn’t satisfied with my ability to resolve some of the issues that I encountered. As I had the opportunity to talk with management with a lot of different companies, I realized that a lot of the issues that management encountered on a day to day basis required a variety of skill sets. As I started to research on what skill sets were required to resolve these complex issues, I spent a lot of time reflecting also on what I wanted in life. In the end, I realized B-school was the perfect pathway for a lot of my aspirations.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
I’m mostly excited about finally going back to school. This time around, after having worked in the industry, I’m really looking forward to how my perspective has changed towards learning about business knowledge in the classroom. I’m also looking forward to JHU GMBA’s flagship program called Innovation for Humanity, where students are divided into groups, based on their skill sets, and travel to developing countries to solve real world issues by applying what they learned throughout the semester. It’s exciting because not only do you get the opportunity to “get your hands dirty” but also you also get the opportunity to really impact the lives of people locally.

Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?
I’m always inspired by people who are willing to do things differently. Some of the leaders that I look most up to are Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Marilyn Manson, and Hans Zimmer. These people have inspired me by the way they approach their respective fields—often swimming against the stream and not with it because they believed in what they were doing.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
I am the epitome of a global citizen. I grew up in South Africa and later spent my years living in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. Later in life, as an auditor working for PwC, I had the opportunity to travel throughout Asia. Now that I am pursuing my MBA in the US, I’m eager to travel to as many locations in the US as possible to see what exciting things await me. The funny thing is that I never deliberately devised a checklist or anything like that to specifically aim to travel to as many countries as I can, but I guess since my childhood, my life was always destined to be one that was mobile. But hey, I’m surely not complaining!

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