Investing in bright minds
Alum Kevin Chan travels halfway around the world to talk with Tandon students
Most venture capitalists dream of investing in the next big thing, as Kevin Chan explains. While that certainly means finding the next Facebook, Twitter, or PayPal, for him that also means investing in and encouraging bright young minds.
Chan (’91 MS EE) and his wife, Eunice, were at NYU Tandon in mid-October to head a Brooklyn Table Talk, an initiative spearheaded by the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Alumni Relations that brings accomplished grads back to the school to speak to current students about their lives and careers.
Chan, a native of Hong Kong who was educated at Cambridge University before coming to the U.S., had plenty to discuss since his path was far from linear. After earning a general engineering degree in Great Britain in 1989, he set out to find engineering work in New York City. His timing could not have been worse, however; the U.S. was then plunging into in a deep recession, and after working for just half a year, Chan was laid off.
Undaunted, he took the opportunity to further his education and landed at what was then affectionately known as Poly to study electrical engineering. With a master’s degree under his belt, he joined New York Telephone (now part of Verizon) for a time before pivoting yet again — this time to earn an MBA.
That combination of finance and engineering proved to be powerful: he was soon called upon to launch a telecommunications/internet practice at HSBC, and in 2002, he joined Advent International, one of the earliest venture capital firms in China, where he was quickly named a partner. When Advent created a spinoff, SEAVI Advent Private Equity, which invests in growth companies, Chan became the senior partner in charge of technology. Based in China, he now spends half of his time in Hong Kong and half in Shanghai and Singapore, making his willingness to find time to visit Brooklyn to meet with Tandon students all the more notable.
“I believe in education,” he has said. “NYU-Poly helped me and I want to give back.”