Enticed by badminton opportunity, alum found community at ASU

By

Kirsten Kraklio

It’s been more than 25 years since Clinton Ang graduated from Arizona State University, yet he can recall with ease the feeling of arriving on campus and walking down Palm Walk for the first time on that hot summer day.

“I checked into Palo Verde West where I was staying in the dorm and then I walked down Palm Walk and you know — everyone was nice and freely dressed — and I thought, ‘OK I could get used to this,’” Ang said.

Ang graduated in 1994 with dual degrees in psychology and computer information systems, the latter of which was a result of his father’s doubt about his chosen path.

“I first chose psychology because when I joined, I was 17 years old and didn't really know what I wanted to do except play badminton and enjoy life. So I chose a discipline which I always kind of enjoyed: behavioral psychology,” he said. “Then, after a semester, I spoke again to my father and he said, ‘What are you going to do with a psychology degree? I think you better think about taking something more serious, you know?’”

So Ang added his second bachelor’s degree in computer information systems.

Today, Ang serves as the managing director of CornerStone Wines and as chairman of the board of Hock Tong Bee wholesaler and distributor of wines, which was originally founded by his great grandfather, Ang Soo Seng. CornerStone Wines has grown to have a presence in 28 countries and a staff of 100 employees. As a trained fund manager, Clinton also manages the family’s equity holdings, which are spread across jurisdictions including Hong Kong, Europe and the U.S.

He credits his psychology degree with giving him a foundation of emotional intelligence (EQ), which has proven beneficial in his career.

“I think it helped me a lot on the EQ side. It's very important to be able to observe a situation and then be able to reflect very quickly and decide on the right approach,” he said. “I can't say that I am perfect in doing the EQ side, but I would say that my psychology degree has definitely helped me improve.”

University of life

Ang describes his years at ASU as the “university of life.” He arrived from his home in Singapore to ASU on an athletic scholarship for badminton. While he had been accustomed to traveling for the sport since a young age, like many students, college was the first time he experienced full independence and he quickly embraced it by seeking opportunities on and off campus.

“I got involved with sports, with ESP, with the honors college, with all the various colleges, the international students club, Singapore Students Association, the Asian Coalition, and wow, quite a few others,” he said. “It was awesome."

Additionally, former ASU President Lattie Coor recommended Ang for a then-new role as a university survival specialist at the educational support program to help provide support to other ASU students. And Ang also pursued entrepreneurial opportunities buying and selling home goods and products such as tables, chairs and TVs to fellow students.

Ang had no shortage of experiences at the university and his advice to current and future students is to live similarly: “You know, we want to look back at the time that we spent in college and know that we have enjoyed life to the fullest and not regret (anything).” 

He said his time both inside and outside the classroom provided lessons he continues to draw on today.

“I'm really thankful for ASU and for my days in The College. Everything that happened there, everything that I was exposed to, really molded me and gave me opportunities, perspectives and readiness for life,” he said.

This fall, Ang will be honored as one of The College Leaders for his career achievements, adding to a lifetime of awards and honors.

Other awards Ang has received include:

  • 2001 — Australian Chambers of Commerce Young Achiever of the Year Award

  • 2002 — Singapore Tatler’s Most Promising Young Person Award

  • 2002 — Singapore International Foundation Young Business Ambassador to Australia

  • 2002-current — Singapore Tatler’s The 300 List

  • 2009 — Singapore Youth Award for Entrepreneurship

  • 2010 — Junior Chambers International 10 Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award

  • 2010 — Youth Olympic Games, Singapore Flagbearer