Notable alumna: Elizabeth Ka-Yee Kan, ’81 B.A., ’81 B.S., managing director of First Eastern Investment Group in Hong Kong
Academic path: While at the University of Minnesota, Kan majored in accounting and economics, with a minor in dance. “It was a very good balance,” she says. She was also involved in the Hong Kong Student Association and became president of the group in her senior year.
Best memories of the U of M: “It’s such a beautiful campus,” Kan recalls. “I lived in Middlebrook Hall on the West Bank, which was one of the newest halls at the time and had a view over the Mississippi River. I was very lucky.”
How she got her start: After graduation, she worked for seven years at the audit and business advisory division of Arthur Anderson & Co. in Hong Kong, where, she says, she got solid on-the-job experience in accountancy and management.
On her firm’s success: In 1988, she started First Eastern Investment Group with a business partner, a childhood friend with a legal background. “In the early 1990s, most people maintained a wait-and-see attitude toward doing business in China,” says Kan. “We took a contrarian view and saw it as an excellent opportunity to enter into China.” They started by investing in various infrastructure projects, such as toll roads and power stations in the southern part of China, and eventually grew to encompass banking, hotels, airlines, clean energy, and other business opportunities throughout Asia and Europe.
In her spare time: Kan puts her U of M dance education to good use by serving on board of the Hong Kong DanceSport Association Limited.
Paying it forward: “We have a University of Minnesota alumni community in Hong Kong, which serves as a bridge to unite students from Hong Kong, mainland China, and other Asian countries,” she says. “We want more people to know about the University of Minnesota, as we have very good memories of our school and we’re very proud of it.”
Photo: Carlson School of Management Dean Sri Zaheer (left) with Elizabeth Kan (right) at an event in Shanghai in June 2019 to celebrate the school's centennial
- A U of M professor developed a study-abroad course to give students a first-hand look at how cities in China are managing rapid population growth.
- As part of a new partnership, scholars from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences and the University of Minnesota are working together on research and other academic collaborations.
- James K. Lee's career dreams came true when he launched offices in Seoul, South Korea, for two prominent U.S. law firms.
- During an unexpected trip to Minnesota, an alumna from Shanghai gives back to the University of Minnesota through music.