School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Want to achieve great things? Dare to dream!

January 2016
By Natalia Mukhina

Alumnist - Jay Huang

Alumnus - Jay Huang, PhD in Mathematics


Jay Huang’s breathtaking career path suggests that a formula of success should necessarily include three elements:

1. People who have much to teach you
2. Books, which can change your perspective
3. Dreams, which drive you beyond what has already been accomplished.

Having graduated from Queen’s with a PhD in math in 1991, Jay Huang has been pursuing a successful career in the telecom and IT sector, starting with the position of a senior engineer at BNR/Nortel, and rising to the rank of Vice President of Nortel and then Managing Director of Intel China. However, in February 2015, he made a life-changing decision to run his own business. Jay has founded Jade Stone Venture, a venture capital investment company, as well as co-founded an Internet education company.

“I left Intel to pursue my dream,” Jay says, convincingly proving the statement that a single dream can be more powerful than a thousand realities.

Thinking back on Queen’s, Jay Huang speaks gratefully about his university supervisor, who played a considerable part in Jay’s future success. “I am forever indebted to Dr. Lorne Campbell, the head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics then. I have learned a lot from him, both as a PhD student and as a person who moved into a new cultural environment.”

Studying in other country in a foreign language is always a challenge, Jay emphasizes. “I remember the warm feeling of being a part of Queen’s community. I remember every party, which I spent with my supervisor, his wife Eha, and other colleagues. They all treated me as family”.

It is not just a bright metaphor. In the distant 1988, Jay came to Kingston with his wife, who is also a Queen’s alum. “I vividly remember that one day Lorne Campbell invited my wife and me to a dinner. I answered – ‘Yes, surely!’ How might I react to the supervisor’s invitation?” laughs Jay. “But Lorne said, ‘Jay, you should have asked your wife first whether she agrees to come before saying yes.’ So, Lorne taught me not only how to be a mathematician, but also how to be a gentleman! It was a truly priceless experience.”

Shortly before graduation, Jay found himself interested in many different things. He wanted to try his hand working in industry. Fortunately, Jay got a job offer from Bell Northern Research, the R&D branch of Nortel. Jay says his PhD experience reinforced his belief that success is on the side of those with strength and preparedness. “I got a job in a recession time because I was particularly well prepared,” Jays argues.

Always passionate about work, Jay has shown impressive results. Within a few years at Nortel, Jay worked not only in Canada, but also in the United States and China, moving up the career ladder. It seemed that all was going well, and why change anything? However, Jay made a decision to resign from Nortel in 2008.

“In many respects, I was encouraged to that step after reading Jim Collins’ famous book Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... And Others Don't. While reading, I was reflecting a lot and applying some cases from the book to my current situation.” Jay compared Nortel’s CEO with “the level five leaders” and decided that he was not the person who could turn Nortel around. In 2008, he left Nortel and joined Intel China. A year later, Nortel declared bankruptcy protection and never recovered from that. Jay’s instinct had not deceived him. “It only took nine years for a 126-year-old high-tech company to complete its journey from the world’s number one in 2000 to bankruptcy in 2009,” Jay laments.

Jay’s responsibilities as the Managing Director of Intel China included key business areas of managing government relations, sales, and marketing. However, Jay has been always passionate about new challenges. This time, he has been inspired by the words of Robert Noyce, co-founder of Intel. Noyce said, “Don’t be encumbered by history. Go off and do something wonderful.” This became the motto for Jay in his decision to found his own company.

Jay knows beyond doubt that running your own business is an absolutely different thing than being an employee. There are more responsibilities, more stress, but also more freedom in pursuing your dream. Asked to share some “alumni wisdom” with the current Queen’s students, Jay responds with confidence: “Keep an open mind, be prepared, and pursue your dream! Nobody and nothing can stop you in such a compelling journey.”