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Alumnus Abroad

A Q&A With Shao Li Robert Liu '82

Where were you born? What do you consider home?

Taipei, Taiwan.  I grew up in Tokyo and the US.  Home is Hong Kong.

Why did you choose to attend William & Mary?

I fell in love with the campus.  

What was your major?

Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics.   

Did you have a favorite course and/or professor while you were at W&M?

Chemistry Professors Trevor Hill and Melvyn D. Schiavelli. Organic Chemistry is so cool. 

Do you have a favorite memory of your time at W&M?

I spent the whole summer synthesizing an organic compound, and found the compound synthesized was not what we had planned.  The expected NMR peaks were not there.  At least we found out “what did not work.”  The methyl group near the double bond was too large for the back-sided attack on the – Cl.   

When were you last on campus?

Summer of 2006. 

What career path(s) have you pursued?

Chemist (W&M BS).   Engineer (Stanford MS, Silicon Valley).   Investment banker (UCLA MBA, NYC, Los Angeles, Hong Kong).   Entrepreneur (merchant bank, property investment, bakery, and financial technology, all in Hong Kong). 

Do you have any current projects/passions you’d like to share?

I co-founded Yintran (means silver transfer in Chinese) to allow anyone or any business in Hong Kong to money transfer HKD (Hong Kong Dollars) via mobile safely with privacy and bank-grade security (like Venmo in USA). I hate writing checks, and in Hong Kong there is no mobile money transfer like Venmo. So I decided to do it myself 3 years ago. We just finished testing the iOS and Android apps. Good times. Each check costs Hong Kong banking system US$ 2, and there are 150 million checks written a year in Hong Kong. We aim to eliminate the checks in 5 years and inject US$300 million efficiencies into Hong Kong banking system. In a period of 10 years thereafter, we may save the banking system in Hong Kong US$ 3 billion. Win-win-win for the community. No need to write a check, to administer the checks, nor to process the checks. 

How do you think your experience at W&M has affected your life and decisions you’ve made?

No adversity or challenge is too great.

Do you have any advice for current students?
  • Stay physically healthy and mentally alert.  Find your passion in what you excel or what you aspire.  Set a high, achievable and excitable goal, and start every day with this goal in mind. 
  • Always “ask for” it, and if it is a “no” then ask again in a different way.  
  • Push the limit. 
Is there any advice you wish you’d received?

If the CEO of a billion-dollar company asks you to be his or her assistant, take it. Stay loyal, and chances are you will have his or her job one day. 

Do you think international experience as a student is helpful in future life and career?


Anything else you’d like to add?

Stay humble, inquisitive and aggressive.