Alumni Spotlight on Zander Liem ('15)
From the beginning of his time at Cornell, Zander Liem (’15) was quite involved in a broad range of activities and leadership opportunities outside of the classroom. He was a member of the sailing team, the Cornell Baja Racing engineering project team, and business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. Zander also became the president of his social fraternity as well as a Vice President of the Interfraternity Council. Academically, Zander was equally ambitious, pursuing double majors in Applied Economics and Management and Molecular Biology.
With interests in business and entrepreneurship, he was naturally drawn to Student Agencies when he learned before arriving to campus as a freshman that one of its subsidiaries, Big Red Shipping and Storage, was run by fellow Cornell students. He attended an informational session which sparked his interest in the position of Treasury Analyst/Chief Financial Officer specifically, though he decided to gain more finance experience first to be a more competitive applicant. After spending his second summer as an intern at Fidelity Investments, Zander applied for the role and became CFO of Student Agencies in 2013 during his junior year.
During his time at Student Agencies, Zander felt as though he grew both personally and professionally from the experience of working with real businesses on the executive level, explaining that “It was really helpful to learn how businesses operate and understand the strategic challenges that they face.” He also highlighted how interesting yet challenging it was to manage the complex process of budgeting in his role as CFO. From a professional standpoint, his experience helped further differentiate him from his peers as he searched for jobs after graduating from Cornell in 2015. He recalls a memorable conversation with former SAF Chairman and President Michael Karangelen (’90), who emphasized how Zander was one of only a handful of students in the country who can say they had the experience of serving as the CFO for a company with over $2 million in annual revenue while still in college. “Being able to speak to real experience was really powerful” in job interviews, Zander remarked.
After wrapping up his tenure as CFO, Zander completed an internship in healthcare banking at Goldman Sachs, where he returned as a full-time analyst for two years after graduating. He had wanted to do investment banking since his sophomore year, seeing it as an opportunity to combine his passions for finance and healthcare. As Goldman Sachs expanded its healthcare sector to include more consumer and retail divisions during his time there, Zander wanted to restore his career focus on healthcare and learn more about drug development and clinical trials. While many of his peers moved from investment banking to massive private equity firms, Zander wanted to work with smaller companies that had greater growth trajectories instead and started looked for more biotechnology-oriented roles. He is now a senior associate at venture firm Longitude Capital and currently moving to its new WeWork location in New York City.
Having gained integral skills that have served and will continue to serve him throughout his professional life, Zander remains actively involved with Student Agencies, serving as a member of the Board of Directors as of 2018. Within the board, he is a member of the Planning Committee working to bring the upcoming 125thAnniversary Gala Event to fruition. The Anniversary Gala will be held on Saturday, November 9th at Brasserie 8 ½ in midtown from 10:00am-3:00pm. He is excited to connect with fellow board members, alumni, and current managers at the Event and further promote the 125-year legacy of SAI. Zander is also aiding with financial modeling for the upcoming redevelopment project, which is bound to shape the history of SAI for years to come. Looking towards the future, Zander describes how “entrepreneurship these days is tech-focused and most of SAI’s revenue comes from services that can’t necessarily be replaced by technology such as Big Red Shipping and Storage, Campus Promotions, and the Cornellian Yearbook. It will be interesting to continue to grow the business and find new opportunities.”