Our Stories

Thinking Like a Leader

Zhu strengthens cross-functional perspective at Vanderbilt

Cecile Zhu
Product Manager, Correlation One

Vanderbilt MBA 2019

Working for large companies like Pfizer and ChemPartner, Cecile Zhu found herself drawn to cross-functional assignments. “How to help people from different departments stay on the same page and collaborate to achieve a common goal is challenging yet rewarding,” she explains.

Cecile also understood that being able to think about an organization more holistically, across functional silos, is a critical ability for anyone in business who aspires to leadership. And she sought an MBA program that would help her strengthen that ability.

Vanderbilt, she says, “is providing me with the business knowledge to have a picture of how the company operates as a whole. I am gaining skills that will help me facilitate [cross-functional] collaboration, in a safe environment to practice those skills.

“I am learning how to create the right incentives for different departments to align their activities with the company’s goals. I also am learning different perspectives and insights from my classmates, who are from different countries and industries. Such new insights help me understand how to make good decisions for a company. On top of that, I learned how to listen to different needs and concerns. As people come from different backgrounds and experience in a global environment, it is important to understand the diversity and facilitate communication.”

As someone who aspires to be a leader, Cecile also was drawn to the abundance of leadership opportunities for Vanderbilt MBA students. In her first year she served as a board member for the Women’s Business Association and as a senator in the Owen Student Government Association (she was chosen Executive Vice President for her second year. She also helped lead several cultural events, such as China Week and the International Closing Bell. Really, she says, “I believe almost everyone has a leadership position in the school.”



Fun Fact: Cecile worked in New Zealand for 10 months as a fund-raising officer for UNICEF.

“I am learning how to create the right incentives for different departments to align their activities with the company’s goals.”