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ESD Parent and Entrepreneur Young Cho Shares His Journey to Success as the Dedman Lecturer

During Wednesday’s Special Programming Day, juniors and seniors heard from Young Cho, CFO of Swirlds Labs and current ESD parent, as part of the annual Robert H. Dedman Endowed Lecture Series for Leadership.

Cho was introduced by Senior Class President Amelia Sinwell ’23. He spoke to students about his upbringing and professional journey into cryptocurrency.

Faith, Cho offered, has long been an essential foundation in his life. It started in the Catholic high school he attended, where he connected with “the uncreated Creator,” suggested by Thomas Aquinas, and has grown through the years and the challenges he faced. 

He credited his high school AP coursework for allowing him to graduate from Cornell in three years with this first degree, a BS in Electrical Engineering. Cho went on to earn a Master’s in Financial Engineering from Cornell. He served in banking and fund management from 1997 to 2012. At that time, he began considering the transcendent question, “How do I want to live the rest of my life?” 

He articulated his response in three stages:

  • Stage One: Accumulate resources 

  • Stage Two: Live a life of service to others in something for which he has a deep passion

  • Stage Three: Continue and further develop a deep understanding of God

Cho returned to Columbia and earned a Master’s in Economic Policy Management. In 2017, he became involved with cryptocurrency. His work looks to disrupt old industries by solving inefficiencies with new technologies like blockchain. Eventually, he hopes to lean more into his passion for helping effect change in North Korea.

“Success looks different to me now than it did when I was your age,” Mr. Cho shared with the juniors and seniors. “What I know today is that I am constantly evolving and that everything happens in God’s time.”

Following his presentation, he opened the floor to hear from the audience. The students had a wide range of questions that included where they should invest their time now. He recommended studying, enjoying their time, and getting involved in ESD’s Student Managed Investment Fund. Cho also offered a brief overview of the importance of blockchain technology and how, as an engineer, he ended up in banking and later an entrepreneur.

About Mr. Cho

Young Cho has a diverse background with over 25 years of banking and startup experience. Most recently, Mr. Cho is involved in the cryptocurrency industry as CFO of Swirlds Labs and prior to that he was CFO of Hedera, a proof-of-stake public network powered by hashgraph consensus. At the same time, he was CFO of Mount Rainier Acquisition Corp, which is a Nasdaq listed SPAC that recently closed its merger with HUB Cyber Security. Prior to Hedera, Mr. Cho was Chief Investment Officer of Abra, a digital wallet where users can buy, sell, and earn rewards on their cryptocurrency holdings. Prior to Abra, Mr. Cho was CFO of Celsius Network and CFO of Alt Lending, both companies involved in the lending of cryptocurrencies. Prior to working at startups, Young held several positions in banking and fund management from 1997 to 2012. Mr. Cho was an Executive Director at UBS Private Finance responsible for originating loans for M&A, CapEx, and working capital for medium sized private companies and for Ultra HNW clients. Prior to UBS, Mr. Cho was co-founder and Managing Director at Newtonian Capital, a multi-strategy hedge fund focusing on event-driven strategies based in Hong Kong. Prior to Newtonian, Mr. Cho was a Director at Citigroup Global Special Situations Group, where he invested Citigroup’s proprietary capital in the debt and equity of distressed and bankrupt companies going through restructurings or liquidations. Young started his career as an analyst at Salomon Brothers Fixed Income Quantitative Research group. Young is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell, a Masters in Financial Engineering from Cornell, and a Masters in Economic Policy Management from Columbia.

About the Robert H. Dedman Endowed Lecture Series

Started in 2002, the Robert H. Dedman Endowed Lecture Series provides students opportunities to learn lessons in leadership from outstanding achievers across many industries. Guests have included captains of many industries, heroes, and champions of philanthropy and service. For more information, please contact Carol Bergman (