Samantha Ku

Samantha Ku, B.B.A. '10

Miami Business School Prepared Alumna for Life as a Professional

Samantha Ku, B.B.A. ’10, graduated from the University of Miami as a 21-year old, in the middle of an economic recession, an unforgiving employment market, and several thousands of dollars in debt. Things looked bleak.

Her last day as a student was, as she described, “a perfect storm of emotion to end the greatest college experience anyone could have.” After a night of celebrating the end of her college career, she came to the sudden realization that even after more than 50 interviews throughout her senior year, she was jobless. The thought of moving back to her parents’ home in Wisconsin seemed like the end of the world. “After commencement, I broke down in tears and my mom told me to go home and sleep it off.” What happened next was Ku’s version of the proverbial ‘when one door closes, another opens,’ albeit with a few hours of panic in between.

“A few hours later I woke up to my phone ringing. It was Citibank and they were offering me a job in New York City.”

It’s been nearly a decade since that roller coaster of a graduation day, and today Ku considers herself a reformed banker turned techie. She currently leads a team of 21 employees that approves over $1 billion in business and consumer loans at Square, Inc. A long way from her original career in finance, she credits her husband to encouraging her to take the plunge into ‘FinTech.’

“My husband is my tough love critic while being unwaveringly supportive, and I would not have taken the leap of faith from a stable career in banking to joining a tech company had he not encouraged me to take the risk. I owe my career accomplishments to him,” she said. “My parents grew up in Taiwan extremely poor and never had the luxury of a dream. They immigrated to the US and sacrificed everything so that I could have dreams and aspirations. I owe my personal accomplishments to them.”

Leaving traditional banking for ‘Fintech’ allowed her to learn what it means to have an impact. “At Square we are disrupting the industry and working toward financial inclusion to a traditionally underserved community, a community that my parents could have easily fallen into in Taiwan.”

Reflecting on her time at UM, Ku said it was the university, particularly the Business School, which prepared her for her life as a professional. “The Business School prepared me down to the smallest detail of how to present myself, from writing a thank you note to the appropriate amount of closed toe/open heeled shoes,” she said. After she started at Citibank, they told her that it was her thank you note that set her apart from the other candidates, and ultimately led to that phone call on graduation day.