Oliver Young (Yang Hanfeng) (MBA ’04) exemplifies the strength of UB’s global alumni network. Students and fellow graduates benefit from his mentorship and strong ties with the university, his position as a business leader and his connections to the Warren Buffets of the world.
When he first set foot on UB’s campus, Young didn’t intend on playing a major role on the global stage, working with world leaders and top energy companies. In fact, he came to Buffalo as a scholar with a passion for English language and literature. “I was visiting the UB English Department in 1988,” he recalls. “Upon arriving, I found such vitality, energy and an academic atmosphere–a colorful campus that enthusiastically welcomed international students such as myself. It laid a solid foundation for my love of UB both in my life and career.”
Young returned to his native China, where he went to work on a China-foreign energy collaboration front for PetroChina. Steadily rising in the company’s management ranks, he helped push joint venture oil and gas projects, and develop clean-energy policy, first in Asia and later on a global scale when PetroChina became the first Chinese oil company to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. Young later on joined RGE Group, an industrial group based in Singapore, with LNG industrial chains as one of its most valuable assets.
Young then earned an MBA from UB’s School of Management. “The school is representative of the entire university,” says Young. “The professors are amazingly professional, renowned as being some of the best in the United States. Equally important, you learn so much from your classmates, who come from different backgrounds, and the rigorous academic and study climate made us all work harder.” Not long after earning his MBA, Young was relocated to work in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the Middle East.
“Energy is the lifeblood of the global economy,” says Young, noting that most people don’t think about where gasoline for their cars comes from, or the electricity or heat in their houses. While he’s an advocate for the energy industry, working with large global multinational energy companies, Young believes organizations and governments should consider the world’s energy supply as a shared social responsibility. “Tariffs and trade wars hurt everybody. Things will get better once countries join hands,” he said.
While some may see an MBA and securing a top position with a global energy company as the high-water mark, Young felt a calling to be involved with his alma mater. He became the first international member of the School of Management Board of Directors, the first international member of the UB Alumni Association Board of Directors and president of the Alumni Association’s China Chapter, organizing and hosting events for fellow graduates and students.
“It’s important for UB alumni to connect and support one another,” said Young. “I am very honored serving in all these roles. It helps me realize my goal to make Buffalo a household name in China. I’m proud to see so many UB alumni playing critical roles for economic growth around the world.”
“Oliver goes above and beyond, professionally and personally,” says Wei Loon Leong, UB’s director of international alumni engagement. “His dedication and commitment to the UB Alumni Association, in spite of an often busy and hectic schedule, has been exceptional. He helps nurture and advise the committees he’s served on, mentors fellow graduates and hosts alumni in China, even giving them tours of his office and native city of Beijing.”
Young tells students, “To give back you will gain more. Donations, mentoring, advocating, networking, serving on an alumni chapter–anything will do in terms of giving back. UB has changed my career and life, and I wanted to build long-lasting ties with the campus.”
Of what makes UB alumni successful, Young says opportunity, perseverance and a little luck. “Education and business inform each other; one should treat students and business partners as equals,” says Young. “If you make people your priority, your business will succeed.”
Published July 18, 2019