Christopher Lee, a senior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM), has been selected to attend the 2019 “Forbes Under 30 Summit” in Detroit, MI this month as a representative of MEM and Drexel University, one of just 1,000 Forbes Under 30 college scholars nationwide to be so honored.
Lee, a BS/MS student in the College of Engineering and the Pennoni Honors College and current president of Drexel’s Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, was chosen after submitting an application, essays, and a resume of leadership skills and career goals.
The four-day conference features industry leaders like Steve Case of AOL, Yael Aflalo of Reformation, and Jon Oringer of Shutterstock, along with musicians, actors, sports figures, and influencers. Over 9,000 individuals attend the conference, billed as a leading global forum for young leaders, founders, and investors.
As part of his application, Lee emphasized his status as a first-generation Chinese American who was tasked from the time he was a boy to be a role model to four younger siblings. He was raised in Bala Cynwyd under straitened circumstances in a culture unfamiliar to his parents, who themselves emigrated from Hong Kong decades ago.
“Whenever I discuss leadership skills, I feel compelled to mention my role as a big brother. I was raised to always take care of my siblings, to look out for them, to guide them through life,” said Lee. “That’s why I’ve always tried so hard to thrive academically and professionally; I want to set a good example for them. I try to inspire them with passion and diligence.
“As for my leadership philosophy, I believe in a multitude of concepts: leading by example, diversity and inclusion, agreeability and respect. You can be the smartest guy in the world, but if you can’t work well with others, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I’ve learned a lot about collaborating and conflict resolution and these skills have developed significantly while I’ve been here at Drexel.”
Lee, who has had three co-ops in dynamic manufacturing industries (chemicals, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals), plans to investigate the ideas and advances on display from more than 30 fields represented at the conference. Students get to choose from among 20 content tracks like artificial intelligence, fintech and blockchain, and law and policy, that offer themed lectures, demonstrations, and networking opportunities. Also in the offing are the vaunted industry pitch sessions matching “young founders” with venture capitalists, for which companies pay between $370 and $!0,000 to access.
“I want to learn more about different industries,” said Lee. “I want to grow myself, see what’s out there, build my resume, make connections. One of the founders of AOL is going to be speaking, so I’m really looking forward to hearing him. And Serena Williams, who is one of the greatest tennis players of all time.”
Asked if he has a formal role representing Drexel at the conference, Lee said that his job will simply be to absorb as much as possible from the leaders and influencers at the event.
“But,” he added, “I’ll definitely be wearing my Drexel merch.”