- Sacramento MBA student
- Visiting Scholar, UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
- Accounting, University of Bedfordshire, U.K.
- Finance and Accounting, China Agricultural University’s International College, Beijing
Ruoyi Liang MBA 19 felt she hit the trifecta when she landed at UC Davis to study business and advanced agricultural technology and engineering. Born and raised in China, Liang has worked in Asia’s largest industrialized egg farm business in her home country, and also as a marketing executive for Nestlé in China.
She chose to study at UC Davis, knowing she could marry her ag technology and business interests at a U.S. university blazing trails in both fields.
As an international student with some trepidation about the culture and inclusiveness at American universities, Liang felt relieved and excited when she arrived at UC Davis. It was as though she had landed at her second home.
“I am amazed by my classmates’ experiences and the contributions they bring to the classroom. I feel we are really a team, although we’ve known each other for only a few months,” says Liang, a first-year Sacramento Part-Time MBA student and a visiting scholar in the UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
Liang has equal praise for the Graduate School of Management’s professors, who she says invite open discussion and get to know every student on a first name basis. “Everyone has a chance to speak in class,” says Liang, adding that professors “stay in close contact with students.”
Sustainable Agtech + Clean Energy = Less Pollution
While at UC Davis, Liang’s goal is to advance her knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices—particularly anaerobic digestion technology—and learn how to apply and market these techniques in a winning formula for ag businesses internationally, particularly in her home country of China.
She already has worked extensively in the Chinese ag industry at the De Qing Yuan Beijing Agricultural Technological Company—or Beijing DQY for short—working on everything from operations and marketing to research and development. The company is the largest egg farm business in Asia with four poultry farms of 3 million birds each. Her mother is a co-founder.
Liang also worked in the marketing department in Infant Nutrition Business Unit of Nestle, Ltd. in China, helping to launch its new product lines and expand its existing ones through integrated marketing across multiple media channels.
Now she has her sights set on solving a pressing global issue: lessening pollution in China and other parts of the world through expanded the usage of anaerobic digestion technology to turn animal and food waste into biogas and electricity. The technology already exists in China and is used extensively at DQY, and now she is gaining cutting-edge expertise working with Professor Ruihong Zhang at the UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
At the Bioenvironmental Engineering (B.E.E.) Laboratory, Professor Zhang’s team is using anaerobic digestion technology on food and agricultural waste and generating high concentrate bio-fertilizers from the effluent. They are also generating biogas from the anaerobic digestion process, which will help to reduce use of carbon intensive forms of energy by providing an alternative clean energy source and cutting pollution.
The anaerobic digester technology has been patented and licensed by CleanWorld, Inc. of Sacramento, the leading North American innovator in advanced, high-solids anaerobic digestion technology.
At UC Davis, the UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester at the campus’ former landfill is using this technology by taking organic waste from the campus and other suppliers, such as Starbucks and Campbell Soup, and converting the waste into renewable energy. It is the nation’s largest anaerobic bio-digester on a college campus.
“This is a perfect example of how research from a small lab can be translated into a good business. I believe there will be many more sustainable businesses coming into our lives from our department,” says Liang. “I hope after my study in the UC Davis business school, I can introduce this ecological and sustainable agricultural business model to more countries in the world.”
MBA as Global Springboard
After working with the B.E.E. group on the UC Davis campus during the day, she heads across the causeway at least twice a week for her MBA classes at UC Davis Sacramento.
She adds that she envisions bringing the sustainable model to more areas in China, and to India and Africa. “If this technology could be spread into more states and even more countries, I deeply believe the human living condition can be improved,” she says.
As an undergraduate, Liang studied finance and accounting at China Agricultural University’s International College in Beijing. She also studied accounting at the University of Bedfordshire in the U.K. She says the UC Davis MBA program is bringing her skills and knowledge to the next level, and her seven years working in China gives her a unique perspective.
“It’s a whole new experience for me,” Liang says of earning her MBA. “I love being back in the classroom.”
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