Alumni Spotlight

Andrew Keh ’10
Research & Development
H.H. Brown 

Major: International Business

Minor: Chinese

What first attracted you to Whittier College? I actually came to California following suit of my ex-girlfriend. I was a legacy student at Whittier. My father and two aunts are alumni and my little brother is class of 2015. Although initially I based my decision off of shortsighted logic, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Why did you choose to study international business? I picked international business because it was practical and I had time to change [majors] if I developed a passion for something else. I ended up falling into it and realizing I had a bug for entrepreneurship my junior and senior years.

What is your favorite Whittier College memory? Driving up Turnbull Canyon in my roommate’s gold `87 station wagon. [There’s] some weird stuff up there.

Did you intern while at Whittier College? Where, and what was that experience like? I worked at Whittier's student loan office, Nordstrom, and I helped start three businesses.

The student loan office was still on a paper filing system when I worked there. Papercuts everywhere.

I had worked at Nordstrom seasonally since I was 16 years old and in high school and part time while at Whittier. Having purpose outside of campus was both horizon-expanding and socially taxing.

Starting, and failing, three businesses was the most inspiring and transformational experience for me to date. Entrepreneurship sparked the appetite for innovation and personal development that has brought me to where I am today.

What was your first job after Whittier? What are you currently up to? How has your Whittier education benefited you professionally? After my last business started to fall apart, I took a job as the personal assistant to the CEO of H.H. Brown where I still work. H.H. Brown is a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that owns and operates a multitude of shoe brands and industry-related services and solutions. I currently run the R&D division ‘skunk works’ and am in the process of implementing a computer-assisted design/manufacturing program with a costing and consumption database to tie it together. Everybody talks about 'getting ready for success', but you taste failure far more frequently. Whittier showed me how to fail, get up, and fail again. This is a lesson that is learned at the necessary expense of ego and comfort. It takes a hundred bad ideas for one good one.

What advice would you give to future business alumni when they graduate? Reach out to your secondary network of friends and acquaintances; this is the network that will get you an interview. You can also have all of the credentials in the world, but these advantages will only get your foot in the door. People are the biggest variable. They will be the gatekeepers, the masters of 'not-invented-here-syndrome' you need to seduce (read The Game). It isn't personal, though! You are going to take a beating one way or another and it is up to you to decide if it is a workout or a wound. On your death bed will you wish you had learned less or spent less time with your family and friends? Balance is not found, balance is a continual process. Take care of your body, take care of your mind, foster your relationships. Money is not the goal. Money is a facilitator bought with your time.

Finish this sentence: I am a ‘Poet for Life’ because… Eons of studying and grinding through the work turn into moments of pure satisfaction. Yeah, I did it. I ran the gauntlet. Moments of unadulterated awesomeness and shared experience are encapsulated and released perpetually over drinks filled with laughter and alone in quiet smiles. Instead of ‘Poet for Life’ I would say I am a Poet. ‘Poet for Life’ suggests that the influence ends when I do. Our names are written in sand, but our ideas persist in stone. 

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