THE MARCH 2015 BULLS EYE FEATURE: Sandy Student
Sandy Student, a partner at TechCXO, is self-described as “the eternal optimist.” Also as “outgoing, funny, skinny, bald, and meticulous.”
And, actually, he’s just happy to be here.
He relates a story about his genuine brush with death very matter-of-factly: “I was lobbying a Congressman in his office in Washington and I had a heart attack, I am alive today because two nurses were lobbying the Congressman across the hall. They saved my life and it reinforced for me the need to always look to assist others.”
His father, David, now deceased was a publisher and his mother Jacqui, 81, was an office manger as well as a caterer when Student was growing up. “So my lunches were the envy of all the other kids at my table. I got shrimp cocktail and scallops wrapped in bacon for lunch.”
Student has two sisters—Susan, 57, a para-legal and educational director, and Sarena, 52, an exercise coach.
“Growing up as the oldest and the only boy I was the one who had to ‘break-in’ my parents. I made them confront teenage issues, school dress codes, driving, curfews, etc. My sisters thanked me for making their lives easier, too,” Student recalls.
Student grew up in Cheltenham Township, a suburban community outside of Philadelphia, which he describes as “similar in many aspects to Evesham Township (where he lives now).
Although his childhood ambition was to become a CIA agent, his summer jobs took a more mundane, albeit entrepreneurial, bent—he worked as a camp counselor, owned a label making business, and worked at a Hi-Fi store.
Student, who is divorced, has two children—Sam, a 21-year old IT technician, and Stephanie, 26, a General Manager in Hospitality Services.
His children, Student says, “think that I pre-plan everything, have an answer for all subjects, and cover every contingency.”
Student worked in the stereo industry while going to college, then moved into working for a chain of independent supermarkets. After earning a BA in Political Science from Arcadia University, he went back into the technology business and worked for RCA, then Sony, then Kodak.
“My first real job was working for Wall to Wall Sound when every kid had to take a stereo to college. I had a great times growing up in the music industry,” he recalls.
As for what he knows now that he wishes he’d known then, Student says that “it’s that you can’t solve everything, take stock of what you can control.”
Today, he’s at TechCXO, a private technology company that employs 83 people and has been named an Inc. Magazine fastest growing company.
“We are a technology firm that helps bring new companies and new products to market. We raise money, push product development, launch products, and devise successful marketing campaigns,” Student explains.
He joined TechCXO three years ago and says that the best part of his job is “bringing new products to market that radically change how services are provided.”
And the worst part of his job, he adds is having to travel to distant clients…something he did earlier in his career, often logging hundreds of thousands of miles annually.
The best advice Student ever received, he says, was “from my first boss at Sony…’take logic and throw it out the window.’ “
On the flip side, the worst advice Student ever received was “from my Uncle, who told me to buy real estate in Florida this was just before the downturn in 2007.”
Today, Student describes his business philosophy this way: “Always understand the point of view of the person on the other side of the desk. But never take NO for the final answer.”
His best decision, he is certain was “going to work for Sony. In the ‘80s and ‘90s Sony drove the electronics business and the record number of new product introductions were just incredible.”
Student feels that his worst decision was “not going to work for Apple in the 1990s when the recruiter called, but it was a vastly different company.”
He recalls his toughest decision as “having to close down a factory while I was at Kodak, the product as conceived was not right for the market, it would have been a disaster from the initial product launch.’
To this day, Student says the accomplishment of which he is most proud is “achieving the number one market share position for digital cameras when I was at Kodak. I surpassed my former colleagues at Sony with this achievement.”
The “dumbest thing” he ever did was “not moving to Japan for two years when given the opportunity.”
Asked how he measures success, Student replies “If we are bringing smiles, delights, and happiness to consumers, and employees. Do our products excite people and are we always improving. Do the products we introduce make for ease of use, and did we do good things? Work is a four-letter word but you have to enjoy it every day.”
So, not surprising that his personal motto is “Stand for something or you will fall for anything.”
Asked about his best experience as a volunteer, Student says the organization he respects the most is the Evesham Township Police Department.
He also points with pride to his election to the Evesham Township School Board, which provides education for 4500 children in grades K-8 and his work as president of the Evesham Celebrations Foundation, which provides community based events for over 80,000 people each year, including the Taste of Evesham, Harvest Fest, Fourth of July Parade, and the Mayors Cup 5k.
He is also proud of Team Evesham, a community cycling group that he founded, which has more than 700 members. “We ride for various charities and for fitness and recreation” and of his role as chair of Evesham Vision 20/20, which drafted a plan for the future developments and improvement to living conditions in Evesham Township.
Ditto his role in the Police Unity Tour, which raises money to honor officers killed in the line of duty and also to increase awareness of fallen law enforcement officers and the Senior Meal Program, which provides hundreds of meals to senior citizens during the holiday season.
One game you will never beat him at, Student says, is Trivial Pursuit.
In addition to dogs, Student is allergic to “boring people, msg, and cats.”
“If you really want to make me angry, be impolite.” And, he notes, “when people don’t like what I have to say, they roll their eyes and grumble.”
One bad habit that Student just can’t break is being connected to his cell phone
The thing of which he is deathly afraid is “dessert.”
And his candidate for the best South Jersey athlete ever is Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
If Student had a “do-over,” what it would be “spending more time with my children when they were younger.” Which jibes with his biggest “aha” moment: “When my kids started to drive, I suddenly realized all the danger they were in not from themselves but from others out on the highway. My parents seemed smarter now.”
The farthest he’s ever been from home is Japan and if he could travel back in time, he would you go to the ”Woodstock concert to see if all of the stories are true and if the music was that intense.”
When he meets people, the first thing he notices about them is “their smile.”
If Student could do one thing to change South Jersey, it would it be for the region to have a higher opinion of itself. “We are too down on our area,” he says.
When he brags about South Jersey to people from elsewhere in the state or from out of state, he tells them that “it is an unbelievable place to live, wilderness, shopping, beaches, universities, fresh produce and great options for families.”
Asked why somebody would want to meet him, he replies “because I can connect folks to others who they would want to meet.”
And, finally, his epitaph—as he would like it to be written: “The only constant in life is change.”