Meet Our Class of 2018 Fellows: Vivian Dai

MIT, Sloan School of Management

I grew up in Stamford, CT, where I was formally trained in the unlikely combination of painting and synchronized swimming. I then attended Wellesley College, where I studied Psychology and American Studies, and worked as a Research Assistant of consumer behavior at MIT Sloan. Later, I moved back to Connecticut to work in consulting, specializing in market research and analytics. My role revolved around using data to read the minds of shoppers, then turning the insights into strategy and action for the world’s largest retailers and consumer goods manufacturers. I’m thrilled to now come back to Sloan as an MBA student, and during the summer prior to starting, I am exploring the world of entrepreneurship by helping to manage MIT’s startup accelerator program, delta v, in New York City. In my free time, I’ve been volunteering with a local nonprofit art gallery, and I love checking out the many museums and arts programs the city has to offer.

What made you consider business school?

While in my past work, I learned a great deal about areas such as product, pricing, sales, and marketing as they relate to retail, I wanted to pursue an MBA to develop my knowledge of other functions and industries I’ve had less exposure to, so I can make more informed strategic business decisions. In addition, although I’ve led teams and worked with many people of different levels and backgrounds, I look forward to taking advantage of more formal leadership training and opportunities across different settings, from academic projects, to treks, to extracurriculars.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

I value interdisciplinary learning, and one of the reasons I was drawn to Sloan is how connected it is to the greater MIT campus. I am excited by the number of programs (including hackathons and student clubs) that have reach across all of MIT. I can’t wait to learn from and get to know people from different schools and labs to see how our experiences and skills can complement one another and what problems we can solve together.

Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

I admire Alvin Ailey, who worked to make dance and the arts more accessible to underserved communities and established his own world-renowned dance company in a time when American theatre and society were still deeply segregated. I’m also inspired by Anthony Bourdain, who used his intrepid curiosity and creative voice to empower the world to understand and embrace that which may feel foreign to us by finding common ground—often over a bowl of noodles.

What's one thing everyone should know about you?

The common thread through everything I do is my drive to learn more about people, whether it’s through management, fine arts, market research, or traveling.

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