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James Zhan: Switching Fields (and Countries)

With help from Vanderbilt, financial analyst explores a move into health care industry

James Zhan
Finance Manager, WeWork

Vanderbilt MBA 2017

As an English major at Guangdong University in his native China, James Zhan already had learned the language of international business. Next, he wanted to master the fundamental skills of business that could truly open the world to him.

After graduation, James spent two years as a financial analyst with Procter and Gamble, then two more as an investment banking analyst for HSBC, where he was mostly involved in cross-border transactions for major Chinese companies. At that point, says James, “I wanted to have formal business training in an academic setting, and I wanted to gain some international experience.”

He chose to gain it at Vanderbilt. “I like the small class size, where we can know each other on a first-name basis,” James says. “The collaborative spirit of the school is a big plus. Vanderbilt is very strong in health care, and I am seriously considering a career in that field.” (Toward that end, James landed a summer internship in California with Amgen.)

“Last but not least,” he notes, “I like country music. Being in the capital of country music is just surreal to me.”

What isn’t surreal at all — in fact, it’s moving closer to reality during his first year of the MBA program — is that James can look forward to attaining his career goal of becoming the finance chief of a major company. And as he heads in that direction, he is enjoying the part of his journey he’s spending at Vanderbilt. “I am out of words,” he says, “to describe what a positive experience I have had so far."



Fun Fact: During the summer of his sophomore year, James volunteered in rural villages in India as part of a cultural education project for indigenous peoples.