Alex Park ’81


Newly arrived from South Korea, he learned at Williston the skills to find success in finance and banking

One year after Alex Park’s family moved from South Korea to the United States, Alex found himself on campus in Easthampton. While he navigated changes in culture and language, he also developed a passion for singing with the Caterwaulers. He credits Williston with instilling a sense of creativity and openness that has made him a more adept businessman and a compassionate person. Park earned a degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the Stern School at New York University. He’s worked in the financial industry for more than 30 years, most recently as the executive vice president for Standard Charted Bank, South Korea. He lives in Seoul, serves on the Williston Board of Trustees, and is thrilled that his son, Justin, is currently a Wildcat.

Who at Williston had a strong impact on you?

Mr. Gregory. He was my music teacher and ran the Caterwaulers. He had a wide range of interests: teaching music and English, writing music. During the plays, he was designing costumes. He is an incredibly talented man and an amazingly intellectual individual. He was also very caring. There were a couple of times when I was in a difficult situation, coping with academic work and other things. He talked to other teachers to support me, and I still appreciate that.

How did Williston introduce you to music and singing?

Williston’s atmosphere encouraged me to try different things. It wasn’t just about going and singing. It was about being able to express yourself. Being able to stand in front of people and perform. I arranged a song my senior year, “Please Please Me” by the Beatles. I don’t think that, quality-wise, it was as good as the songs that Mr. Gregory arranged for the group. But he let us learn and perform it. It was a great opportunity, the fact that I arranged and performed it with my group. It gave me a big boost.

How did Williston impact your life and career?

When I arrived, I was still “fresh off the boat,” as they call it. That age of 15 is a very sensitive age. The culture, the new academic pressure, new language—it was a lot I had to adjust to. So going through that experience made me very nimble, flexible, and more receptive to different changes and ideas. Even nowadays, I’m open to new ideas, and I think that comes from Williston. And being able to manage time. There’s a very strong academic demand, but you have to learn to juggle other things. And caring about people. There were a few people who, because they knew I was foreign to the country, they really helped me. Now I think I can understand other people’s positions better.

What do you enjoy about your work?

First, I like the talented people in this industry. I value the relationships. Second, what I do is look at the financial markets. I have to continuously monitor what’s happening all over the world. Not just economic news, but political developments, what’s happening socially in other countries. I have to stay on top of it. That’s work I enjoy not just to do a better job, but to be a better person. Third, there’s never the same boring day.

What does it mean to you that your son now attends Williston?

Obviously, Williston was his choice, but I encouraged him. As a parent, when they come back and say, “I love the school,” that’s all I can ask for.