Sandeep Dayal is a seasoned marketer and the author of the newly released book “Branding Between the Ears – Using Cognitive Science to Build Lasting Customer Connections.” In it, he gives a behind-the-scenes look at his work in applying behavioral science and consumer psychology to help his clients build some of the most iconic brands in the world. Sandeep is the managing director for his firm, Cerenti, a marketing strategy boutique in Chicago. He serves as a counselor to C-suite executives at Fortune 500 companies and has advised 50+ clients in more than 100 engagements around the world. He is regarded as one of the leading minds in marketing strategy and has co-authored articles in Marketing Management, McKinsey Quarterly, and Strategy & Business.

He recently took time to discuss what makes the Yale School of Management unique, the view from East Rock, the beauty of the Newberry Memorial Organ, the power of ideas, and more.

Why Yale?
The Yale School of Management, where I went for my business degree, is unique in how it combines public and private management principles into a single management education. It forces you to think about the world in a different way. No other school does it quite in the same way. Not then and not now.

What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale? 
That would be like looking for a shape in the blur. Would it be the time that a bunch of classmates drove up a Harley in the midst of Sharon Oster’s microeconomics class to congratulate her on what was her 5th year anniversary at the school? Or the time the discussions in the IGB (Individual & Group Behavior) class got so intense that some people broke down? Or would it be when David Brown, the best-ever poli sci prof, reeled off every single student's name and bio in the very first class? Would it be the ice cream giveaway when Ben and Jerry showed up with tubs of their company’s ice cream? Would it be ...?

You decide, I give up!

If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
I would have taken a few classes at Yale College. They have some fabulous profs there in the department of psychology and philosophy. All is not in vain, though; lots of those classes (Paul Bloom or Jane Gruber anyone?) are now online. So, I did take them. They're free!

What would you do exactly the same? 
There is no doubt that the classroom experience is the one thing that makes SOM, well, SOM. That was evident to me from Week One. I made it a point to make the most of it – whether it was learning from my peers or checking in with the profs or diving into the debates. SOM is what you make of it. And what I made of it, in every class I took, and every day I sat in class, I would not change a bit.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present? 
East Rock. They say it was “formed about 200 million years ago as the continents were in the process of moving away from each other.” If that doesn't kick your tires, then, hey, just enjoy the view.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
I liked to sneak into the Woolsey Hall when someone was practicing playing the Newberry Memorial Organ. Just let the sound of that mammoth organ seep through your brain and for those few moments lose the power to move and think at all and just feel it, whatever it is.

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
For my first year, I lived at Hadley Hall, the vibrant international dorm. When you were hungry, pizza at Clark's was out of this world – and not to mention, a life saver at 10 p.m.

Who is another Yalie who inspires you? Why?
My good friend and classmate, Scott Lewallen, who is no more. Scott had clarity around what and who mattered in life and lived accordingly. He was an immensely successful, accidental investment banker, but that's another story.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
Ideas. Every time I engage, I learn. And what I learn, I use. So, ideas.

How did your time at Yale shape the person you are today?
It opened me up. Prior to Yale, I was an engineer. Engineers tend to be solipsistic, and I certainly was. Yale taught me otherwise. It opened my mind to other thoughts and ideas, made me more creative and effective in what I do, even today.

What is your hope for the future of the Yale alumni community?
I would like Yale to seed more communities. Having one Yale in the country is a missed opportunity. I think there should be a Yale institution, not just the community, in the Midwest and another in the West. It is too good of a thing to keep to so few people.

What advice would you give to current students? 
1. Yale offers a lot. Use every bit of it for your purpose.
2. Give something of what you take, and give it back to others – many of whom may not have had the privilege of Yale.
3. Stay connected to Yale. There is always more you can learn and more you can give.


How would you answer? Share your responses with the YAA and they might be featured in an upcoming edition of "Getting to Know You." 

And be sure to check out all the Q&As in the series by visiting our Getting to Know You page.