December 16, 2021 • By Xanat Hernandez
David Kang EMBA ’17 starts his workday at 6 a.m., ready for Wall Street to begin trading for the day. However, growing up he envisioned himself as an early riser for a very different reason. Kang originally studied biology at UCI, with the goal of becoming a doctor. Taking a year off after obtaining his bachelor’s to study for the MCAT, Kang had a “moment of clarity” when chatting with his fellow undergrad alumni. He knew he wanted to choose a different path.
Now Kang is CEO at Ducenta Squared Asset Management, a global fixed income asset management firm based in Los Angeles. In April of 2020, Kang led the $3 billion acquisition of Tortoise Credit Strategies, a move complicated by the pandemic.
“My team and I believe this move was as much of a partnership as an acquisition,” said Kang. “It has allowed us to grow our business both in the U.S. and Asia as we combined our client-centric and traditional distribution models to add value to our clients.”
When asked why Kang chose UCI once again for his MBA he simply said “UCI is my home. I’ve always felt comfortable and taken care of here.” When he was first considering a graduate-level education, Kang had already been working in Wall Street for 18+ years. He was eager to both learn from his cohort and share his expertise.
“Something clicked when I started meeting MBA students and realized I wasn’t meeting many students with a background in finance or experience with Wall Street. I saw a group of leaders that I could learn from and grow with. When I debated what Business School, the obvious question popped up; “why would I do this anywhere else?’”
Kang was also looking for a strong academic background in his chosen field. He emphasizes the importance of having a clear goal when enrolling in a graduate degree.
“It comes down to academic assurance. I wanted to make sure that I was doing it right. Going through the EMBA program reaffirmed that I was on the right path, and it actually enhanced and accelerated the path.”
Kang also gained new connections that continue to impact his path to this day. He connected with past dean Andy Policano and Sharon Nakamura-Brown of the Center for Real Estate (CRE) at the Merage School. Kang continues to serve on the board of the School’s Center for Real Estate, has recently joined the board of the School’s Center for Investment and Wealth Management and remains connected with his cohort.
“Mr. Kang is one busy executive making waves and spearheading some amazing global business transactions, but more importantly, he’s a thoughtful, multi-dimensional human leader and a rising star among our alumni,” said Nakamura-Brown, managing director and CDO at CRE.
Kang’s passion for higher education and giving back to his community shows no sign of slowing down. In the future, Kang hopes to continue sharing his experience with students and to help support the School financially through an endowment.
He said, “I want to help students get from where they are today to where I am today. If I can help them connect the dots as best as I can, I’ll feel like a made a difference in their lives.”
His advice to aspiring investment professionals? Be bold and speak up.
He said: “You have to be bold and ask for what you want. Look for guidance from those who are already there and most likely, very willing to offer it. Start from your home, your network, go to them and leverage the relationships that you’ve already made.”