Rob Bogucki ’94 graduated from the College of Engineering in 1994 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Since graduation, Rob has built his career in financial services and has lived in Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, and New York. Rob is currently a managing director at Galaxy Digital, one of the world’s leading firms focused on digital assets and technology-driven financial services; he serves as co-head of global trading and is on the firm’s executive committee. Living in New York City with his wife, Dr. Stephanie Lam-Bogucki, and their children, Catherine (12) and Matthew (10), and keeping a busy schedule hasn’t kept Rob from remaining very connected to the Cornell community. He has been a supporter of the Upson Hall Renovation as well as the Engineering Student Project Teams.
Do you have a favorite Cornell memory?
My favorite Cornell memory was the day I got in! I was waitlisted and had just returned from a weekend at Cornell with a friend who was already admitted. It was the pre-email era and I had hand delivered a passionate, handwritten note to the dean of admissions at the college of engineering. That Monday, a guidance counselor at my high school frantically pulled me out of Spanish class during an exam. We sprinted down the hallway to his office where the dean was on hold at the other end of an old-school rotary phone. Dr. Faust handed me the receiver and whispered, “Now Robert, don’t overthink this, I have no idea what you wrote, but the correct answer is YES.” I was the first person in my family to be admitted to an Ivy League school.
How has Cornell impacted who you are today?
Cornell is a huge part of who I am today. Cornell challenged me like never before, both academically, socially, and culturally. I grew up in a pretty homogenous community were everyone was of similar ancestry and followed a similar path in life. Cornell taught me that “the road less travelled” would make “all the difference”—and it most certainly has (I really wish Robert Frost hadn’t gone to Dartmouth!)
Is there a Cornell program or initiative that is near and dear to your heart?
Yes. The Student Project Teams initiative in the College of Engineering is, without a doubt, what always separated Cornell from the rest of the top engineering schools. Cornell forces engineering students to become “gritty” by getting their hands dirty. The project teams also teach collaboration, diversity of thought and, most importantly, the skill of communicating. A beautiful mind is totally useless if it can’t articulate and transmit information. The project teams help to develop and hone this often-overlooked skill. I like to visit the CUAir team when I am on campus as I am an avid drone enthusiast and builder.
Where do you see Cornell growing?
One distinct place where I see Cornell growing is through Cornell Tech here in NYC. In my day, going off to college was about isolation and being “up in the sticks” and “away” from the world. Today, it is about interacting and immersing. Cornell’s aggressive move to be a bold and progressive technology force in a city like New York showed incredible vision and foresight. Thank you, former Dean Lance Collins!
What has motivated your lifelong philanthropy?
I am always motivated to contribute both financially and personally to helping other people whose stories I can “feel.” I love interacting with people. Writing a check is one thing, but actually working with people and seeing their eyes when you have personally helped them with something is without comparison. We live in an increasingly dehumanized world and anything that couples a cause I am passionate about with direct human interaction is something I love to get involved with.
What kind of impact do you want to have on the world?
I would say that the two common threads in everything I have found purpose in are truth and efficiency. I want to see the world become a more transparent place with less barriers. Way too much of what we call “productivity” is actually “toll-taking” on the back of friction. Look at our aging infrastructure; look at the corporations who are constantly angling to keep a monopoly on good ideas. We need to decentralize and remove the barriers that aren’t exactly there by accident. I see a lot of purpose in being around anything that makes anything from the banking system to power generation more efficient and democratic. Let the best ideas win.
Do you have a favorite class or extracurricular from your time at Cornell?
Believe it or not, my favorite class was actually Psych 101. Even though I majored in engineering, most of the world we live in operates according to nuances in the human condition. Every interaction I have somehow gets sized up in my own head as how professor Jim Maas taught our class to distinguish different personality types. I can still see him standing on the stage telling us the top ten traits of a narcissistic sociopath.
Do you have a message for newly graduated alumni?
Follow your passions and true purposes in life. Forget about how you want to be perceived on Facebook or Instagram. Toss aside what others expect of you and commit to delivering what you expect of yourself. In today’s world of image and influence, I worry that people are not living their best versions of themselves, but rather the version that they think everyone expects them to live. I’ll never forget a Broadway play called The Ride Down Mount Morgan where the protagonist says at the end, “in life you have a choice: you can be true to everyone else, or you can be true to yourself…”
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