Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Why Leave?

I recently accepted a new job as the Vice President for Career Development at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. For many, my decision was a BIG surprise. I have lived in the S.F. Bay Area for almost 30 years. I loved my job leading the career management center at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where I earned my MBA and also my undergraduate degree. I had a comfortable life, an awesome church, and many great friends and connections.

So… “Why leave?”

There are several facets to my answer and when seen in totality, the decision makes sense (at least to me!).

First, the job is unique and exciting. The visionary leaders at Wake Forest are committed to creating the premier collegiate university – a higher education institution that offers the best of a personal, intimate liberal arts college with the best of an innovative, prolific research university. One key area is a focus on the career development and character formation of each student.

As Wake Forest’s first Vice President of Career Development (to my knowledge, the first in the country), I aspire to insure that all undergraduate and graduate students receive the career and vocational knowledge, resources and services to make sound career and life decisions. I hope to equip the faculty, staff, alumni and parents to be effective, assertive mentors to support and guide students in their character and career development – to support the education of the whole person.

I am eager to be involved in a wide range of important initiatives including student life, orientation, academic advising, career development curriculum, writing articles and books, and teaching classes. With President Nathan Hatch, I will explore and refine the concept of a Center for Vocation and the Common Good. Engaging faculty, staff, alumni and parents for input and support is essential to insure the success of these initiatives.

The Wake Forest culture is very similar to the collegial, supportive, vibrant and innovation-oriented culture of my prior “home” (Stanford Business School) and well-primed to fulfill their new vision and strategic plan. As a member of the strategic leadership teams for President Hatch and Provost Jill Tiefelthaler, I am honored to have the opportunity to influence all of the schools and students across the university, and to contribute to one of the key initiatives that will define Wake Forest in the 21st century.

Over the last 15 years, I have grown increasingly passionate about career development and believe that there is a huge opportunity to positively impact the world of higher education. I am hopeful that over time, our efforts may eventually influence the strategic direction of many universities and the lives of many university students around the world.

Second, we have family in the Southeastern U.S. One of my sisters has lived in Winston-Salem for the past 15 years and has twin girls who are 7 years old, the same age as my youngest daughter. My other sister, with three kids from ages 4-9, lives about four hours away in Richmond, VA. My wife’s parents, brother and two sisters all reside about 4 hours away in the beautiful city of Charleston, SC, where my wife grew up. Being close to both of our families is a blessing that I never imagined was possible.

Third, I see life as an adventure. As much as I have loved living and working in Northern California, I had always imagined that a door might open that would allow our family to experience life in a new way. I just did not know when that door might open, where it might lead us, or what it might look like. Well, now I know.

Finally, I believe that my life is in God’s hands. He has been with me and blessed me throughout my entire life and I sense that He is calling me to Wake Forest. With great anticipation, I look forward to many wonderful experiences and opportunities to be of service and a blessing to my family, to Wake Forest, to my new community, and hopefully, to the world.

Category: Higher Education, OPCD Updates

5 Responses to Why Leave?

  1. Rodney Gibson says:

    Andy, thanks for using so much color and texture in your story. It makes me all the more excited about this move!

    Blessings to you and your family. It is good to have you on the East Coast. Do reach out if ever in NYC!


  2. Tom Ballantyne says:


    I just learned that you’re leaving from a Plaxo update (!). See, people really read those emails from their social media collection. But, I want to congratulate you for having the courage to shake things up a bit and embrace a new challenge. Not everyone is up to that task, especially when it seems like their careers are humming along, cruise control engaged (on the Beemer), finally got the variables tamed. Your new role sounds like a fulfilling one, your true vocation (or right livelihood, as it also may be called). I hope someone will be able to continue the “Heart of the Matter” or are you taking it with you? I must confess this is the first time I’ve seen it (thanks to Plaxo). I really appreciate the fact that your words of compassion and concern are appearing in, of all places, a b-school publication. I hope the concept is contagious.

  3. Tanisha Drummer says:

    Great post Andy! Congratulations on the new adventure. Life is all about being open to the unexpected. The Stanford GSB community will miss you, but our community is about fostering greatness and you are definitely an example of that.

  4. Bill T says:

    God bless you! Sounds like a fantastic opportunity for you to venture forth with the spirit of Abraham.

    I have no doubt that God is leading and guiding you! But that doesn’t mean you won’t be missed-a bunch.

    Also, I can still feel deserted-after all you didn’t ask my permission!! :>)

  5. Aaron Denman says:


    Thanks for sharing. You were a great mentor and role model to all of us at Stanford. I know you will be incredibly successful and a blessing to your family, to Wake Forest, and the world.

    Warm Regards,
    Aaron Denman, GSB ’09