UVA Darden Alumna Leads Car-Sharing Initiatives in China

Following graduation, University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumna Vivian Jin Yu (MBA ’03) was hired as treasury manager at General Motors in New York.

After six years excelling in a finance arena at the auto giant, she moved to General Motors China just as the U.S. company declared bankruptcy in 2009, and soon became finance director during a tumultuous time for the global economy.

Now, as director of urban mobility for GM China since 2014, Yu is positioned at the forefront of a dynamic area, leading the transformation of the automotive industry toward a safer, more environmentally conscious place.

In her current role, Yu works directly on car-sharing initiatives. Car-share users sign up on an app that unlocks and starts one of GM’s on-demand cars, 60 percent of which are already entirely electric. Her initiatives focus on electrification, autonomous driving and mobility services, which Yu says are the future of the automotive industry.

Although a finance expert, Yu credits the “soft” skills honed at Darden with helping her make the transition to her new position.

“Even if I can do a super fantastic analysis of numbers, if I cannot tell the story right, understand what the audience is looking for, work with a different function to get everyone’s head around a strategy, I can’t achieve what I need to,” says Yu.

The Darden MBA education experience was crucial to her transition from finance to running GM’s urban mobility business in China, which Yu cites as both her biggest achievement and challenge. “The roles are totally different,” she says, explaining that finance is more straightforward while running a business is more of a process of discovery. “There’s no written rules for you, no job description. You have to explore everything and try different things.”

Studying a broad range of cases, functions, industries and cultures was good preparation for this ambiguity, she says. “I would not be where I am now without Darden.”

Read the full profile on The Network.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia