Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Lykourgos (Luke) Demas, Yale SOM

“Hands-on series.”

Hometown: Valley Stream, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I co-founded a maize farm in Malawi!

Undergraduate School and Major: Harvard University (Class of 2016), Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology

Most recent employer and job title: Senior partner, Performance Delivery Team, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The Yale School of Management is considered a goal-oriented program. What is your mission? How will your MBA at Yale SOM help you fulfill this mission?I aspire to bring equity in the delivery of health care in disadvantaged settings. During my previous work in the health sector, I have witnessed situations where simple, data-driven and sustainable solutions have outsized impacts on the delivery of health care, and I think there are many opportunities of this type remain. At Yale SOM, I hope to gain the perspective necessary to further connect these elements, expand my knowledge of other components of the healthcare delivery pipeline (e.g., venture capital funding of new innovative ideas), and learn of my colleagues to better support and catalyze the resourcing, development and implementation of such ideas.

Which word best describes the Yale SOM MBA students and alumni you have met so far and why? Real. Of course, Yale SOM students and alumni are smart, accomplished, and driven – these qualities are prerequisites for entering any top business school. What surprised me the most was how genuine everyone has been, how vulnerable people are willing to be, and how passionate my colleagues are about ideas and topics both inside and outside the typical commercial sphere.

Apart from your classmates, What was the key element of the Yale SOM MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? During the application process, I was immediately drawn to Yale SOM’s comprehensive study requirement. Having lived and worked in three very different countries – the United States, Switzerland and Malawi – I have seen the importance of having a global perspective when it comes to having an effective impact beyond borders and cultures. The explicit emphasis on international experience provided by the Global Study program highlighted the international orientation of Yale SOM, which I really appreciated. And of course, I can’t wait to travel (COVID permitting)!

What class, club or activity are you most excited about at Yale SOM? Voices, a forum that provides opportunities for students to share their personal stories in a safe and welcoming space, encapsulates many of the things I am most excited about at Yale SOM: engaging my classmates on difficult and often uncomfortable topics, learning from a diversity of points of view and form deep friendships for life.

Describe your biggest achievement in your career so far: I moved to Malawi in January 2020 to work in support of the national HIV program. As you can imagine, the nature of my work supporting the Ministry of Health changed dramatically over the year, and I was eventually tasked with quantifying the health commodities needed to prepare the country for COVID- 19: PPE, hygiene products, essential drugs, and clinical devices. Simple, right?

I faced the harsh realities of advocating for the health and safety of Malawians at a time when wealthy countries, many of which fund Malawi’s health system, were scrambling for commodities themselves. I had to balance the theoretically correct “answers” ​​with the realities on the ground. In a country with few trained anesthesiologists, for example, increasing the number of intensive care beds or ventilators was largely unfeasible. Despite many frustrating moments (and many hours of multi-time zone Zoom calls), my ministry colleagues and I articulated the country’s needs and coordinated with the aid organization to bring needed commodities to Malawi. Although there are still many challenges ahead given the uncertain future of the pandemic, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, I am proud to have supported the country during such an uncertain time.

How has COVID-19 changed your outlook on your career and life in general? COVID-19 has further reinforced my belief in the importance of building and maintaining collaborative relationships. During the pandemic, we’ve all been deprived of the occasional hello from the subway, gossip about water coolers, and passing anecdotes we share with co-workers upon entering the office. Relationships could no longer flourish organically, face to face. Rather, real effort was needed to connect with people over video, a task made even more difficult by “zoom fatigue” and audio lags. I struggled to find creative and engaging ways to connect with people virtually, but through this process I realized the value that clear communication and vulnerability can have in building new connections and strengthening existing links. I hope to bring this concerted effort and authenticity to the new bonds I will form at Yale SOM, hopefully all in person!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? After many years of exploring healthcare delivery – starting with McKinsey to support Fortune 500 healthcare companies and ending in Malawi to support the Ministry of Health – I have discovered that in many In low-resource settings, the challenges faced by good ideas are often associated with a lack of capital. At this point in my career, I want to better understand the financial side of good ideas and hope to explore opportunities in venture capital and impact investing through my MBA journey at Yale SOM. I’m keeping an open mind about what comes next, but I know it will be exciting – stay tuned!

What other MBA programs have you applied to? In addition to Yale SOM, I applied to HBS, Stanford GSB, and Berkeley Haas.

What advice would you give to help potential candidates gain admission to the Yale SOM MBA program? In my experience, more than other programs, Yale SOM emphasizes authenticity and commitment to the “and society” component of its mission. I urge applicants to think critically about what really motivates them – not just what they think the school wants to hear – and outline how they plan to use the skills they develop at Yale SOM for the betterment of society as a whole.

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