Helping Others Succeed

Rick Yan MBA'89J
Rick Yan MBA'89J

“I realised, I have to create this scholarship. And I have to do it now.”

Rick Yan MBA’89J always intended to start a scholarship for INSEAD students. He could empathise with those who faced financial difficulties in paying for school; as a young man from China, he once faced the same challenge.

But Yan was consumed with work – putting in up to 100 hours a week at 51job, a Shanghai-based human resources company that he co-founded — and couldn’t find the time to start that scholarship. Then, in late 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“Everything shut down in China,” Yan recalls. “Everything slowed down around the world.” With this change in pace, Yan began thinking about the implications of the pandemic for both INSEAD and INSEAD students. He was concerned about what the crisis could mean for student enrolment, budgets, travel, classroom teaching and more. “I could feel how much this was affecting the school and the students,” says Yan. “I knew that many students were just not able to afford school anymore, due to a combination of factors.”

The time had come to take action. “I realised, I have to create this scholarship,” Yan says. “And I have to do it now.”

In 2020, Yan made a significant pledge to create the COTE Foundation Endowed Scholarship at INSEAD. The scholarship supports INSEAD students from Mainland China. It complements another scholarship, created by the Foundation, that benefits high school students from rural communities in China.

Yan hopes his new endowed scholarship will enable more talented students to choose INSEAD because it’s the right place for them, instead of choosing another business school due to financial considerations. He also hopes that bringing this talent to INSEAD will help create more responsible leaders in the world — leaders driven by purpose and guided by their values.

INSEAD gave him exposure to this notion of purpose, Yan says, and it continues to guide his life and work today. “Today, I work for purpose,” he adds. “I want to influence people’s lives. Helping others succeed makes me very happy.”

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