Associate, McKinsey & Company
Maya (Anderson) Yates is the future of American capitalism, a next-generation business leader who intends to marry profit and purpose to help small businesses generate wealth and create jobs. “I want to find the diamond in the rough and realize its potential,” she said. Raised by a single mother, a social worker in Decatur, Georgia, her upbringing made her all too aware of inequalities in America. At her public high school, “most of the Black kids lived in the housing projects and most of the white kids were from upper middle-class families.”
With a thirst for knowledge and a determination to improve her lot in life, Maya won a place at Harvard University, majoring in English, before returning home where she began working for a small real estate brokerage, helping families to buy homes and generate wealth – something her family never did when she was growing up. She enjoyed the dynamism of real estate, but aspired to tackle bigger problems and make an impact on more people; with an entrepreneurial spirit she’s harbored since childhood, Maya sought her MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “I fell in love with the beautiful campus and it was the community I was looking for,” she said. “It was collaborative; people genuinely wanted to help me achieve my aims.”
Maya made the most of her MBA experience. She joined the Adam Smith Society, an association of business students who promote debate about how capitalism can help society, and served on its board. Her academic excellence was recognized with numerous fellowships and she served as chair of the school’s Dean Fellows Program. And, she helped create the Black Business Student Association, which Maya calls a “rallying point for black students, a place where they can build their networks.”
The Full-Time MBA program also helped Maya cultivate her own network through numerous experiential learning opportunities. She worked as an analyst with NCGrowth on projects that support economic development in communities and with Domino’s on a STAR consulting project that gave her experience operating in a corporate environment and exposure to senior executives. She also visited Bolivia and Ecuador on a Global Immersion Elective to see how business is done around the world and to develop cross-cultural communication skills.
These experiences prepared her for a post-MBA career at McKinsey in Atlanta, though she hopes to eventually work for herself, helping to make small businesses a success and their dreams come true. “By working for Fortune 500 firms, I get to see how it’s done in the largest and most complicated companies. I want to bring those lessons to smaller businesses. The entrepreneurial spirit still lives in me,” commented Maya.