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Billy Hwan

BS ’01, Management Science and Engineering
Story originally published on Nov 2016
#IAmAnEngineer. I like to redesign systems and make them better than they were before. To me, engineering is a way of thinking.

Studying engineering taught me to be structured in my thought, to be disciplined, and to look for alternative solutions to existing problems. It’s about accepting complex challenges, really unpacking them and rearranging the pieces to achieve superior outcomes. As a portfolio manager, that’s what I do for a socially responsible investment fund.

Corporations wield enormous power today, and I believe that that power should come with responsibility. We want to make sure that corporations are considering the needs not just of its shareholders, but of all stakeholders. Not just investors and customers, but employees, vendors, regulators and communities at large. In my work, I regularly engage with CEOs and CFOs to encourage them to be good corporate citizens. I do that by introducing sustainability into the current capitalist structure so that it can serve everyone’s needs, not just the self-interests of a few.

It wasn’t until I studied industrial engineering, now known as management science and engineering at Stanford, that I realized how flexible the field of engineering can be. I chose this major because of the business component and my enduring belief that business offers our best hope for positive change in the world. I work in finance now, and even though it’s a bit removed from engineering, I’m still redesigning systems – our capitalist economic system – to work for the better.

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