May Lee - China & USA

Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Bi-cultural Education
Dean, School of Entrepreneurship and Management, ShanghaiTech University; Entrepreneur

May has held a variety of senior positions as an executive on Wall Street, as an entrepreneur and as a leader and innovator in the higher-education sector. She has 25+ years of experience leading and advising corporations and educational institutions on expansion into China across a wide-range of issues including regulatory landscape, negotiating strategies, cross-cultural communication, market-entry, joint-venture structures and strategy, and talent management matters. She most recently led a groundbreaking effort to establish the first undergraduate U.S. degree-granting campus in China. Her experience enables her to bring new perspectives including bi-cultural views cultivated throughout years of building deep relationships in the U.S. and China. May has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from NYU School of Law. In 2014, she joined ShanghaiTech University as Dean of School of Entrepreneurship and Management.

An educator

May is currently Dean of School of Entrepreneurship and Management at ShanghaiTech University, a new university, modeled after MIT and Stanford, created by the Shanghai Municipal Government and Chinese Academy of Sciences. As the inaugural Dean of the School of Entrepreneurship and Management at ShanghaiTech University, May’s mission is to create a 21st century business school that connects creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, science and business.

Prior to joining ShanghaiTech, May led New York University’s (NYU) initiative to establish a full-degree granting campus in Shanghai, the first-ever American university given such permission. She applied her strategic, business operations and multi-cultural expertise and oversaw all aspects of the effort taking the seed of an idea, envisioning the design of a new academic and research program to the execution of a new campus. She led negotiations with NYU’s Chinese counterparts, obtained appropriate governmental approvals in China (at local and central government levels) and managed US stakeholders including the Board of Trustees, deans, faculties across six schools, and the heads of all relevant operational functions. In addition, May assembled the core management team ultimately leading to a bicultural, bilingual co-located team of 120 in New York and Shanghai. Ultimately, May’s strategic vision, ability to create new infrastructural and business frameworks, and broad operational knowledge resulted in an inaugural entering class of 300 students in September 2013.

An entrepreneur and a business leader

In 1999, May became the COO of the Credit Derivatives business, where she led its development with trading desks in New York, London and Hong Kong. She hired and led a team to execute customized transactions driven by tax, and legal concerns while managing the infrastructure and control functions. The P & L in the first year exceeded projected targets by 100%.

May left Goldman Sachs in 2000 with a colleague to start a technology firm that adapted financial trading technology for business-to-consumer and business-to-business applications. As Co-Founder and CEO, May oversaw capital-raising, business development, HR, marketing and legal.

She joined a fledgling marketing/advertising agency as COO in 2004 where she remained for four years before becoming CEO in 2007. May created a new vision for the business, formulated strategy with the two co-founders, instituted operational systems, won business from high profile clients and grew the business more than ten-fold to over $15 million in revenue.

From 2008 to 2009, May served as Chief of Staff to the Chairman/CEO of Merrill Lynch to set strategic priorities for the firm, initiate and managed special projects with an emphasis on monitoring trading positions and risk.

A lawyer and consultant

From 1990 to 1994, May practiced law at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Bond Market Association. Prior to law school, May began her career in 1984 at Kamsky Associates, one of the first consulting firms to work with multinational companies in China. She managed two offices and represented over 60 companies in negotiations with central and provincial authorities for equipment sales, licensing, technology transfer, and investment deals for clients.

May joined Goldman, Sachs & Co in 1994 where she worked for over six years. As an attorney, she advised half a dozen trading desks in the Fixed Income Division on day-to-day trading and other securities law-related issues. In 1997, the Co-Heads of the Fixed Income Division asked her to become their Chief of Staff. In that capacity, May designed the operational and trading infrastructures to facilitate divisional risk management, provided strategic analysis on business units, and represented the Division at firm-wide strategy sessions and committees.

A board director

May is a Lifetime Trustee at the NYU School of Law, and sits on the Board of Directors for the National Partnership for Women and Families and the Chelsea Day School in New York.