Audie K. Chang, BA '73
Alumni sponsor of the Peter T. and Shun Yee Chang Memorial Internship
Through the generosity of Audie K. Chang, students can undertake internships related to the history, experiences, and contributions of Chinese Americans and their communities (interested students may inquire with Professor Lisa Yun at firstname.lastname@example.org). These internships provide a stipend and require that interns provide a report of their experiences and accomplishments upon completion of the internship. Below is a biography of the sponsor and a brief interview with him.
Audie Chang graduated from Harpur College in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in theatre and history. Following work as a taxi driver, salesman and Dun & Bradstreet credit reporter, he enrolled in New York University's Stern School of Business, where he earned his MBA in finance and accounting. Upon graduation, he joined Deloitte & Touche in Manhattan and became licensed as a CPA. In 1979, Chang moved west to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad, the company that brought thousands of Chinese workers to America in the 19th Century. When the company announced a merger, he moved to the Silicon Valley, serving as the corporate controller for Tele Atlas, a leading digital map producer; Electroglas, a manufacturer of semiconductor equipment; and IntelliCorp, a producer of software for SAP implementations. He was also the chief financial officer for two venture capital-funded start-up companies.
For the past five years, Chang has been a financial and accounting consultant serving technology companies that include Jawbone, Electronic Arts, Komag, Friendster and Silicon Image. Born in China and raised in lower Manhattan where he attended PS 130 and JHS 65, he attributes his success in corporate America to his liberal arts education, which sharpened his communication skills, immersed him in the heart and soul of America, and provided a bridge between his Chinese heritage and American upbringing. Chang enjoys volunteering to better his community and has served on the audit committee of Foster City and the academic committee of Financial Executives International. He is a co-founder of the Asian Business League of San Francisco and the San Francisco Chapter of OCA, a nonprofit civil rights organization. He and his wife, Susan, have two adult children and are longtime supporters of Binghamton University. On a personal note, Chang lived in Hong Kong for seven years before immigrating with his family to America as refugees. He spoke no English when he started 3rd grade in public school. He worked as a paperboy in Chinatown and in various Chinese restaurants as dish washer, waiter and cashier while in high school. His father and mother were educated in China but worked as grocery helper and seamstress, respectively, before starting a garment business together in Chinatown. Running a small business was hard work with no time off and often under tremendous stress as the business was the only livelihood his parents knew that can sustain a family of six. Chang notes that his parents worked hard and made sacrifices because they believed in the American dream and it paid off for them.
An interview with Audie
Why did I study theater and history?
First, I was passionate about movies and television. Second, there were very few Asians on campus in 1971 and what people knew about Asians was grossly distorted by movies and television. I thought I could make a difference in changing how Asians are perceived by being very visible. I reached out and made friends with theater students, which wasn't hard since they were an odd bunch and fun to be with. I spent three months as a summer stock apprentice on Cape Cod with the Falmouth Playhouse. I auditioned for a lot of plays and was turned down so often that my advisor, Professor Richard Smith, found a script that called for a Chinese character, and cast me as the lead.
I studied Western and Asian history to understand my past and what I can expect in the future. I saw myself as a world citizen and history gave me the analytical tools to adapt to any environment.
How did you get interested in volunteering for community activities?
While a student, I had a summer job working as an assistant to the Director of Teachers, Inc., a non-profit organization that recruits, trains and places graduates from top universities in inner city public schools. During this period, there was a trial attempt to decentralize the governance of New York City public schools by permitting parents to form local school boards in the IS 201 district (Harlem) and the Two Bridges district (lower Manhattan). I was a Cantonese interpreter working for Teachers, Inc. to help inform and organize parents by making door to door visits. From this experience, I learned that self determination is a powerful force and everyone has a voice in a democracy. Also, whether good or bad, you are defined by where you live and who lives around you. As such, being active in your community, keeping informed and getting to know the people through volunteering make sense.
Why did you choose to be a Certified Public Accountant and a career working in large corporations?
After working at odd jobs, I learned that economics permeate every aspect of life and it's good to have the means to help others. I was told accounting is the language of business and I was always good at math so going for a CPA was an easy decision. Large corporations employ a lot of people, offer many kinds of work and pay well.