International banker and biotech entrepreneur Jay Yuan, MPP'16, knows the versatility of a Harris degree.
Jay Yuan, MPP’16
Jay Yuan, MPP’16


Beijing, China


China Merchants Bank (New York, NY)


Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Concentration in Finance, University of Virginia

Jay Yuan has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He came to the United States from China to earn his undergraduate degree so he could blend his Chinese background with U.S. business and commerce. He worked in banking in China and founded a start-up IT consulting firm that provided comprehensive mobile solutions.

Now, Yuan is a structured-finance associate at China Merchants Bank in New York City, where he works to diversify the bank’s business line in a mature capital market and helps his clients adapt to the changing economic environment. He builds relationships by providing Chinese investors with sophisticated financial products, and he offers financial solutions to top-tier asset-management companies.

He has always looked for ways to expand his expertise, build relationships, and find solutions in areas where he felt a lack of ingenuity was preventing progress.

It is no surprise, then, that what drew him to the MPP program at Harris was his desire to diversify his network while working in a data-driven, results-oriented program.

“I have many friends who went into MBA programs and found people there to be from similar backgrounds and with similar goals. I wanted to be around people from all over the world, from different backgrounds, with different beliefs, and from diverse industries,” Yuan said. “I found this to be one of the most enriching parts of my education at Harris. You meet people you can learn from, get new ideas from, and maybe even partner with one day.” He continued, “If you go in with an open mind and listen, you will learn so much from the people around you, and you will see the world in a new way that frees your mind to do even bigger and better things.”

While a student, Yuan was able to take part in an exchange program via a partial sponsorship, which allowed him to study economic development and foreign policy in Israel and Palestine. The program offered a balanced view of the situation in the region, which allowed Yuan to further realize that policy is never black and white.

As a student fellow at the Paulson Institute, UChicago’s business and political think tank, Yuan was able to co-author a report for the China Investment Series that detailed the ways China is investing in U.S. businesses. In addition, he was able to start a Chinese government forum at UChicago through which visiting Chinese officials gathered to answer questions from students regarding various governmental policies in their home country. The forum provided great insight for students to better understand the differences in the ways city and regional governments in China handled policy matters, from sanitation to infrastructure.

“Having access to so many opportunities at Harris, being able to present new ideas that come to fruition, and learning from world-class professors, all contributed to my experience as a whole,” Yuan said. “I am always striving to make myself a better person, and that is the end goal of this program. At Harris, you are given the tools you need to make a real difference in areas in which you have the most passion.”

The entrepreneurial spirit is still at work in Yuan; he and a partner are building a biotechnology business, where he is in charge of IT and business development. They provide hospitals in rural areas around larger cities in China with an affordable genetic testing product. After collecting, analyzing, and interpreting the data from these tests, the partners hope to find key indicators that can help to provide medical developments that will better recognize risk factors and to find ways to reduce the effects of diseases through risk-preventative methods.

“This is a long-term project,” Yuan said. “We are in the collection phase and will see what the data tell us and how we can use that to improve the lives of people who are predisposed to genetic disease and disorders. The knowledge I gained at Harris around data analytics and public policy has been an advantage in both my business ventures.”