His Love of the Ocean Inspired His Gift
Eck Meng Goh’s gift to UCLA Anderson was inspired by his young daughter, who chose donations to ocean-saving causes in lieu of birthday presents
Goh believes what’s important is making sure we have sufficient resources for the growth of life on the planet
MBA student Sarah Heiser (’23) currently holds the Goh fellowship
Eck Meng Goh (’92), founder and CEO of Singapore-based Stratos Capital Private Ltd., cares deeply about Earth’s oceans.
He and his daughter, Elizabeth, love to scuba dive, and together they’ve seen the bleaching of coral reefs, a phenomenon that occurs when warming ocean waters cause coral to expel algae and turn white, which distresses them and exposes them to mortality. Determined to make a difference, Elizabeth asked her friends and family to recognize her birthday with donations to causes dedicated to healing the oceans — with the Gohs pledging to match their gifts dollar for dollar.
“I thought it was important to lead by example. Seventy percent of the world is covered by water, and the water is filled with plastics. We as a race, as humans, have been choking it.”
Elizabeth’s selflessness (which has spanned several birthdays by now) inspired her father to endow UCLA Anderson with a fellowship providing financial support to a student interested in environmental causes. “I thought it was important for me to lead as well by example,” Goh says. “Seventy percent of the world is covered by water, and the water is filled with plastics. We as a race, as humans, have been choking it. I’m very glad that people are starting to take notice of how important the oceans are for sustaining life, human life, on Earth. So that’s why I also chose saving the oceans as an important thing.”
Goh founded Stratos Capital and has been its chairman and CEO since 2007. He has more than 20 years of experience in investment banking and private-sector management, and is currently managing director of several family-owned businesses with primary interest in property and investments. Before settling in Singapore, he spent over 10 years in New York and San Francisco as an investment banker with Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and Citibank. In addition to his UCLA Anderson MBA, he holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Monash University in Australia.
Goh recently returned to campus to attend his 30th reunion, meeting with old classmates as well as UCLA Anderson Dean Tony Bernardo and MBA student Sarah Heiser (’23), who holds the Goh fellowship.
“She’s lovely,” Goh says of Heiser. “I’m so glad that she is also evolving herself. She was asking me if the fellowship was aimed only at social impact, and I said, ‘No. It doesn’t have to be social impact. It doesn’t have to be not-for-profit. What’s important is making sure that we have sufficient resources for the growth of life on this planet.’”
He says his interest as a young UCLA student was not necessarily in studying finance.
“When I first came to Anderson, most of my classmates were interested in finance. I was already in finance, and that was probably the last thing on my mind,” Goh says. “I came to Anderson looking to expand my knowledge and expose myself to different things. I had also looked at the film school. I looked at urban planning. I looked at arts and not-for-profits too.”
Once enrolled at Anderson, Goh formed a relationship with Senior Associate Dean (then Professor) Al Osborne. “I just bonded with Al and I became one of his teaching assistants for the full-time program. Through that, I got to know him better,” Goh says. “He’s just a good guy, you know?”
Goh’s relationship with Osborne continues to this day. The reunion gave them another chance to catch up. Their bond played a role in Goh’s decision to create the fellowship, as did his family’s values.
“My family has always believed in education,” Goh says. “I delayed part of my donation because during the early stage of the pandemic, there were a lot of less fortunate people that needed financial assistance. So I delayed part of my giving while I was funding other causes to help the less fortunate in Singapore, particularly people who were not able to get medical help.
“Basically, education has been something that my family has always believed in because people help themselves,” he continues. “Hopefully by giving, I’ll inspire the future recipients to also give back to the school.”