Wilson Tong – CUP Fellow Spotlight

CUP Fellow Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I currently work in the alternative investments industry on the capital raising side.  I was first exposed to alternative investments while I was working as a college intern for a Trustee of one of the largest U.S. public pension plans.  That experience led me to learn more about different types of alternative investments, and I ended up composing my undergraduate thesis on transportation infrastructure investments and, post-college, landing my first full-time job at an investment bank in a group focused on selling private equity and real asset funds to institutional investors.  Since then, I have transitioned to working at a global alternative asset manager.  At a fundamental level, I am fascinated by the intersections of the public and private sectors and maintain a strong belief in the capacity of the public and private sectors to work collaboratively in serving the public interest.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

The biggest functional challenge of my work is the unpredictability of what may come across my desk or e-mail on a daily basis – but unpredictability is also one of the more exciting aspects of my job and often leads to invaluable opportunities and experiences.  It also hones greater versatility – which, I believe, is increasingly important in today’s workforce.  For example, one day I may be working on a customized pitch to a potential investor, another day I may be prepping for a critical client meeting and another day I may be researching potential new investment strategies that my firm should pursue—and it is likely that I will work on each of these projects with different professionals across the organization.

What is your proudest achievement?

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve as the president of the undergraduate student body at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn).  I was particularly proud to serve in that position as I was the first Asian American to do so—a significant milestone in the university’s history and for the Asian American, Asian and minority communities at Penn.  By sharing this leadership experience, I hope that I have empowered others to set high expectations for themselves and work hard to exceed them even if they may not fit the conventional mold.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

I greatly admire educators – who, I believe, are leaders, thinkers and doers.  Educators play an incredibly important role in society, and they are generally underappreciated.  Teaching is tough, but the impact is forever.  Several teachers have shaped, and continue to shape, the trajectory of my life.  I have a deep appreciation for their investment in our future.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Ideally, I will be in a senior-level position that aligns my interests in both business and public service and directly leverages the professional experiences that I will have had in capital raising for alternative investment strategies as well as leadership experiences that I will have had throughout my life.  More broadly, I just hope to be further along in developing a rewarding career that makes me happy and has a positive impact on my community and beyond.

 

What is one thing you've learned from the CUP Fellows Program that you would pass along to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

Aim to be regularly exposed to diverse perspectives – and be a life-long learner.