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Yenie Tran: Better investments through teamwork

On its surface, the timber industry can seem simple: Trees grow, they’re harvested, they’re replanted.

But if you dig a little deeper, you uncover layers of intricacies. There are state and federal policies, international influences, asset distributions, planning, data collection and more. It’s these details that inspire Yenie Tran (BBA ’02, PHD ’15), allowing her to fully embrace the field and her role as senior economic analyst at Resource Management Service, a timberland investment management organization based in Birmingham, Alabama.

A graduate of the Langdale Center for Forest Business, Tran was able to connect her passion for environmental policy with her undergraduate experience in business and marketing. Getting her doctorate degree wasn’t necessarily the path she planned, but now she can’t imagine her career any other way.

“I did my undergraduate in business marketing at UGA—I had no idea that forestry even existed. After graduation, I went up to Washington, D.C., because I wanted to get a law degree and go into environmental law,” she says. While she was there, she worked for the nonprofit Pinchot Institute for Conservation. That experience introduced her to forestry and its connections to law, policy, business and more. “And as I kept digging in, I worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Association of Conservation Districts–and that’s where I met Bob Izlar.”

Now with RMS, she’s now able to dig into policy through the lens of the financial industry. And, as a woman in the male-dominated financial industry, her perspective brings valued ideas to the team.

“I do feel like I offer a different perspective, even just a way of communicating things,” she says, recalling how her team compiles its reports for client meetings. “The men on my team are very goal-oriented and driven to whatever the end product is—I am too. But I also look at things from another point of view, such as relationships. I think part of it is how we, as a team, work in relation to each other and build these relationships. If it’s stronger, we work better together.”

Tran says she can’t imagine herself without a Warnell degree. Ironically, back when she was living in Washington, D.C., UGA was not on her short list for graduate programs. Thankfully, Izlar steered her in the right direction.

“Now that I’ve gone to Warnell, I can’t imagine any other forestry school I wanted to go to,” she says. She recommends current students push themselves to find their calling in forestry. “I would encourage students to think deeply about what they’re interested in. Maybe it’s not what they want to begin with, but I think there’s an opportunity to make it into something you might want. You have to speak up and ask the right questions and be interested.”

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