Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1996 | Assistant vice president, Fifth Third Bancorp, Cincinnati.
Quick Climb | After only three years with the bank, Tjo (pronounced Cho) was promoted to assistant vice president. Now 28, he’s responsible for securing the business of some of the nation’s largest Fortune 500 companies. He started in the commercial credit department as a credit analyst. A year later, he was promoted to junior lender focusing on medium-sized businesses. Two years later, he was sent to the corporate division as a treasury manager.
How’d He Do That? | “I was told the time frame it took for me to get to this level is the shortest some have ever seen. But I knew I wanted to get into some sort of business application.”
The Job | He focuses on companies on the East and West coasts and parts of the South.
Client List | Includes Gannett Corp., Circuit City, Cinergy, Kroger, Gateway Computers, PetSmart, the Cheesecake Factory and the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.
A Good Thing | “I like my job. It definitely fulfills one aspect of my life—providing financial stability.”
Something Else | His passion, though, is coaching boys basketball. He now coaches fifth- and sixth-grade boys from a local school. “I love coaching and educating kids in terms of values.”
Life-Changing Event | While a student, he spent the spring semester of his junior year studying at Sophia University in Japan.
Road Trip | “It wasn’t a decision I analyzed. I just said yes. There was a sense of excitement and adventure being completely on my own in a foreign country, and that experience shapes my thought processes now. It opened up my world, and I gained so much perspective on different things. That was the experience that completely changed my life.”
Lifelong Struggle | As an American-born son of Korean immigrants, he considers himself American but is struggling with his Korean identity. He admires his father for seeking a better life in America by working his way through college as a bartender and becoming a computer programmer and business owner in Atlanta.
On Korea | “I don’t know if I’d want to live there. The way of life in the states is a lot different. Everything is bigger here. It’s a very rich country.”