Extensive undergraduate involvement inspires Yaniv Dudaie’s return to MBA program
Few people have had greater influence on Yaniv Dudaie’s decisions in recent years than the fictional competitor that frequents his imagination.
The character is young, ambitious and reminiscent of a few hardworking children Dudaie met on a trip to Thailand in 2016.
The six-week volunteer mission was split into three distinct stops – an orphanage, an elephant sanctuary and a school. Each exposed Dudaie, a May graduate of the University of Missouri–St. Louis, to his privilege back home.
Cutting down sugarcane and planting crops outside the elephant sanctuary made him thankful for the office lifestyle he had grown accustomed to as an intern. Watching children walk to school with only a worn pair of socks on their feet made him appreciative of the simple luxuries his family could afford when he was growing up in Israel and New Jersey.
“My biggest takeaway from Thailand, especially from me teaching English to those kids, was that I was super privileged, and I wasn’t making good use of it,” Dudaie said. “I now ask myself a simple question: ‘If I gave the same opportunities to one of these Thai kids, what would they do with it?’ Would they just get a simple major and relax? No. They would get three majors. They would go above and beyond and engage however they could. In the back of my mind, I’m kind of competing with this random, fictional Thai kid that I made up.”
Asking these questions motivated Dudaie’s decision to declare a double major in international business and finance and prompted his enrollment in UMSL’s MBA program, which he’ll begin this fall. Dudaie’s desire to learn also encouraged his involvement in enough campus activities that he has to consult his résumé to remember them all.
“I believe that most of my education was done outside of the classroom,” said Dudaie, whose extracurricular interests included an internship at Edward Jones, a term as president of Beta Gamma Sigma and a successful run for UMSL’s homecoming court. “All of those activities that I engaged with helped me do one of two things – connect me with someone that gave me something of value or help me practice a skill that ended up being valuable to me.”
One such activity was his participation in the 2018 Industry Issues Competition, hosted by the Society of Financial Service Professionals. The competition and networking experience brought together finance professionals and students from across the country, including Dudaie and his UMSL teammates.
To prepare for the competition, each team member researched a different profession in the financial services industry, analyzing both the technical elements of the job as well as ways to navigate interpersonal dynamics. The team earned a second-place finish for its presentation.
Dudaie also went on to win the individual elevator speech competition, where students were evaluated on their salesmanship. After attending educational sessions focused on presenting to an audience and crafting persuasive messaging, the 20 participating students began their three-minute presentations on why those listening should hire them.
Dudaie wanted the judges to know he was ambitious and driven but didn’t want to follow the same speech pattern as those who presented before him. He began his pitch with a bulleted list of accomplishments and what goals he still hopes to achieve, saving his name for after he captivated the audience.
The tactic worked, sending the aspiring financier home with the individual honor.
“My key takeaway from the experience was that you always need to be prepared,” he said. “You need to know what your personal goals are and what the team goals are and how you plan to execute. Maybe you haven’t done it yet, maybe you’re aiming to, but making sure that your list of priorities is set and knowing exactly what you need to do to get there will help you never lose your line of sight to reach your goals.”
His overarching career goal is to find a way to better connect people to the finance industry. He’s open to wherever that broad vision might take him.
“My goal, no matter what industry, no matter what internship I had was always to connect individuals and what they need to finance,” he said. “I’m not sure the actual method of me reaching that goal, whether that’s consulting or going to develop startups, but I see myself traveling abroad to grow companies.”
The goal builds on the entrepreneurial spirit he’s had since he was young.
Dudaie remembers spending his childhood in Israel and being interested in how culture influences business interactions. From a young age, he traded and sold goods, using his ability to speak Hebrew, Spanish and English to interact with potential customers.
“Bottom line, business is the same all around,” he said. “Some places just have different regulations and bigger demands, but it’s the people and the culture that really affect it. By understanding the culture and the way that individuals think, that’s how businesses change and shift. It could be the same business, same products and services all over the world, but the way that businesses will market and engage their consumers, that’s where things will change.”
Dudaie’s experience at UMSL strengthened his entrepreneurial ambitions through his involvement in the Entrepreneur Club and as a student intern in the 2017 Ameren Accelerator program. Through this participation, he grew close with Dan Lauer, the founding executive director of UMSL Accelerate.
“For me, Dan Lauer was really impactful because he’s always creative, he’s always energetic and fun, but he never loses focus,” Dudaie said. “He asks, ‘What’s your take away goal? What did you learn from it?’ He always finds the value in things. I would definitely consider him a mentor.”
Dudaie’s positive undergraduate experience influenced his immediate return to UMSL for the MBA program. He’ll begin graduate-level classes this fall with an eye on enhancing his business acumen.
“I feel like an MBA will give me another level of depth into business and into finance itself,” he said. “I feel like it can give me the tools to advance a lot faster in my career.”
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