May is Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Harvard Business School’s Asian Affinity Business Association (AABA) provides a community for the promotion, understanding, and cross-cultural exchange of Asian and Asian-American business, social, academic, cultural, and political initiatives. AABA, in collaboration with students and organizations across campus, is proud to share and honor the stories of our community members.

Meet Lisa Yan (MBA 2025), a trailblazer in the tech industry, blending her cultural heritage with modern aspirations, and now pursuing entrepreneurial dreams at Harvard Business School.

“For me, being Chinese American means blending old heritage with new meaning.

My middle name is also my Chinese name, Mintao (敏涛), meaning ‘clever wave’. In Chinese culture, it’s common to share a theme in names passed down through generations. On my dad’s side, all males traditionally get Tao (涛), and his name is Xiantao (先涛), meaning ‘first wave’. However, my dad, excited about his first-born child as a US immigrant, decided to break years of tradition and gave me the name Mintao to paint my future in the wave of innovation.

Embodying the spirit of my name, I ventured into the traditionally male-dominated tech industry. In high school, I joined the FIRST robotics team. In college, I chose to study Electrical and Computer Engineering, even though my dad, an engineer himself, had reservations about women in the field. Eventually, I became a software engineer at Google, where I was the only woman on my team. Now, I am pursuing my dream at Harvard, with plans to become an entrepreneur one day.

Although my dad and I may have cultural differences, I have to remember he is the ‘first wave’ - the generation that overcame the Cultural Revolution and gave me a life in the US. By building upon the wave of opportunities my father created, I strive to honor his wisdom while shaping my own Chinese American identity to share with future generations to come.”

Student Clubs are a vital part of the HBS Community experience that support the school's mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. Clubs sponsor a variety of events such as workshops, speakers, and conferences that provide distinct opportunities for learning, networking, and socializing outside of the classroom. Learn more about HBS student activities, government and clubs here.