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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Vice president of Warner Bros. visits alma mater

Michael Chang is the Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at Warner Bros. He is also a UC Davis alumnus who attributes his future success in part to campus involvement.

Recently, he and his wife, also an alumna, brought their family back to town hoping to encourage their daughter to apply and attend.

Chang graduated in 1992 with a degree in international relations, and UC Davis and ASUCD were integral in shaping Chang personally and academically. He cites the ASUCD Lobby Corps as one of the most influential enterprises in his time at the university.

“I was part of the internal affairs … our job was to help knock on doors and advise the administration on key issues that affected students back in those days,” Chang said.

These issues included managing budget cuts, tuition increases and the acceptance of gays and lesbians in Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC) programs. The vital nature of these issues made Lobby Corps a very special program to Chang.

“My biggest fear was that I would be a loner,” Chang said. “I was not comfortable in my own skin having come to this country not speaking a word of English.”

Overcoming this struggle was a natural process. As Chang got more involved in the campus, his said his fears slowly dissolved.

“Davis felt for me — it’s just a place that makes you feel like [you’re] home,” Chang said.

Chang’s daughter Alyssa reflects her father’s opinions of the University despite being in high school. She said she found her brief time on campus to be everything her father has touted it to be.

“Everyone was really ready to help you, whether it’s finding your way around or getting into deep conversations about how to apply for college,” Alyssa said. “Out of all the colleges I’ve visited so far, this one really stood out to me. Maybe it’s the Aggie air.”

Chang met his wife, Hiromi, at Davis, and they have been together ever since. She likened their early relationship to that of Pepe Le Pew and Penelope Pussycat of the old Warner Bros.’ “Looney Tunes” cartoons, and in their time together she has been very supportive of his career growth.

“Challenges give him struggles. Struggles make him grow. Growth leads him to the next leap. All I do is encourage and just be patient,” Hiromi said.

After a successful undergraduate tenure, Chang’s next step was to advance his self-envisioned quest to become a lawyer. He set his sights on UCLA Law, which he attended right after graduating from UC Davis.

“I knew that I would be in school for another three years. I envisioned my life to fit that of a model law student,” Chang said.

Before law school, Chang sought out practical experience he could bring to a post graduate education, shunning distractions such as television. Upon completing his law degree at UCLA, he worked at several places before finding a position at Warner Bros., a job that did not come without its ups and downs.

“[Success] is a combination of being at the right place at the right time … having the job skills and having an interest in what you do,” Chang said.

Chang said he has found the entertainment industry to be an exciting enterprise.

“The entertainment business is a mass market business. It’s just fun,” Chang said.

Chang also said that he found similarities between the Davis and Warner Bros. environments. In his education and work, he surrounded himself with open-minded people, and his ability to adapt to different environments was critical.

Chang’s proficiency in Japanese has also helped open doors in his career, and he strongly suggests that students try to become well-versed in a secondary language.

“I work quite a bit with Japanese companies. It makes it easier to develop a common bond,” Chang said.

Now, as far as the future is concerned, Chang said his goals are less tangible, focused more on a particular mindset.

“My biggest ambition for my life is to have more happiness and less worries … that can apply to anything,” Chang said.

 

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