Giving Back, Paying it Forward
A Conversation With
Jeffrey Lee '08
Jeffrey Lee came to IMS from South Korea in 2006 and graduated in 2008, spending his high school years at Hotchkiss and then studying finance and statistics at NYU Stern School of Business. Today, he works at Evercore, an investment bank in New York City, advising companies in connection with shareholder activism and raid defense, contested M&A and special committee situations. He is also a member of the IMS Alumni Advisory Council.
We spoke with Jeffrey about his work and about his time at IMS.
IMS: What drew you to the finance industry?
JL: Initially, I didn’t know exactly which path I wanted to pursue. I figured it out by speaking to a lot of people, including IMS alumni, and seeking career advice. The response when I reached out was amazing. People were genuinely excited to catch up and offer help – and it was so clear how important IMS was for everyone. It is such a great community where people want to stay connected and to offer help.
At work, I spend a lot of my time helping companies engage with shareholders who are unhappy with stock performance and demand companies to take drastic actions such as announcing transactions or replacing CEO and/or Board of Directors to create value. Things get a little more serious if there is a proxy fight (you may be familiar with this if you watch Succession on HBO). Strategic thinking is crucial in helping clients navigate challenges like this, and the role aligns with my interest in both finance and politics.
IMS: What did the IMS experience teach you?
JL: Among many values and character traits I’ve developed from my experience at IMS, two qualities stand near and dear to my heart: acceptance and tolerance.
At an early age, our exposure to students who come from different cultures and have different values naturally taught us how to accept and appreciate differences in people. Through our interactions with each other – whether in classes, dining rooms, dormitories, sports games, or field trips – we learned how to deal with challenges that arise from being different. We learned to say: “you are so different, and that is understandable.”
This way of understanding and valuing differences has helped me tremendously in business settings, personal relationships, and self-development. IMS taught me how to connect with, understand and learn from people who are different, and I am very thankful.
IMS: What inspires or motivates you?
JL: Outside of work, I spend a lot of time in the art community looking for ways to support and empower emerging and underrepresented artists. Many art galleries and art institutions are promoting artists’ careers purely based on commercial benefits and I think there are problems to be addressed in this space.
IMS: Thank you for being a donor. Why do you give?
JL: IMS played a foundational role in shaping my outlook on life, and it is my way of showing appreciation for all the wonderful faculty and staff who will continue to make students’ experience at IMS special. I hope that prospective students will find their time at IMS meaningful as much as I did, and I look forward to following the school’s continued success. IMS is a truly special place and so giving back is a no-brainer for me.