Jessica Yinka Thomas
Director of Business Sustainability Collaborative and Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship
As the Director of the Business Sustainability Collaborative, Professor Jessica Yinka Thomas brings together students, faculty, and the business community in order to cultivate sustainable business practices. Influential in her journey to becoming a scholar and leader in business were her experiences studying abroad during her undergraduate studies at Stanford University and her MBA at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. Listen to the podcast below to hear more about how her experiences abroad were important both personally and professionally.
- Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris in Paris, France (Undergraduate)
- Global Academic Travel Experience in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana (Graduate)
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to explore and learn beyond the boundaries of my academic institutions. For my undergraduate study abroad in France, I was a mechanical engineering student looking for an opportunity to explore my more creative side through art and design courses. For one of my classes, we would go to the Louvre to sit in front of a painting for hours and discuss the style, historic context and inspiration. It was quite a change from studying matrix theory and fluid dynamics. For my graduate study abroad to South Africa, I wanted to explore business innovation from a global context.
What is one of your favorite memories or places you visited while studying abroad?
When I was in South Africa, one of the business owners I had a chance to meet was a social entrepreneur who ran his business from a repurposed shipping container. He made greeting cards and stationary from an invasive weed that was choking some of the waterways in Cape Town. It was one of the most beautiful and innovative approaches to reuse that I have had the opportunity to learn about.
How have your study abroad experiences continued to impact you?
In my current role studying business sustainability, I’m reminded every day by my study abroad experiences that we are going to need innovative solutions, interdisciplinary approaches, and global perspectives to solve the social and environmental challenges that we face.
What would you say to students who are interested in engaging globally?
You might be tempted to explore parts of the world that are similar to where you grew up in language and culture. That could be a great place to start, but I would encourage students to also push themselves to get out of their comfort zone, discover places that are completely different, connect with people and immerse themselves in new cultures. That’s how you can make real connections and have impactful experiences that will inspire you for a lifetime.
Global, Here and Now Podcast
In celebration of National Study Abroad Day, this episode highlights the study abroad experience of Professor Jessica Yinka Thomas. Professor Thomas studied abroad in Paris, France as an undergraduate student, and around Africa as an MBA student. Professor Thomas uses the global mindset she developed while abroad while teaching her classes, and in her work with the Business Sustainability Collaborative.