James N. Strawbridge
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Class of 1984, BS
What is your hometown?
Los Altos, California (1991-Present); Menlo Park, California (1987-1990); Baltimore, Maryland (1961-1987).
How did what you learned at Virginia Tech impact your career?
Through my coursework, I learned the importance of hard work, discipline and a logical approach to solving difficult problems. I also gained an appreciation for the importance that technology would play in the future. Through the cooperative education program, I learned how to thrive in a corporate environment. Through my extracurricular activities, I learned how to be a productive member of a team and how to lead others.
Why did you choose your profession?
I have always had an interest in the liberal arts and business as well as engineering and technology, and being a business lawyer to technology companies seemed to be the best way to combine all interests. I always expected that law school plus my Virginia Tech engineering degree would ultimately lead to a role in business, ideally a technology business.
Why did you decide to come to Virginia Tech?
I knew that Virginia Tech was a top university, especially for engineering. I had relatives that attended Tech, and all of them loved the school. I knew from my first visit that Virginia Tech was a very special place. I was also fortunate enough to receive a Marshall Hahn scholarship, and Tech had a great cooperative education program, both of which helped fund my college education.
Who influenced you during your career and/or time at Virginia Tech?
It would be impossible to name professors without leaving a deserving person off the list, so I will simply say that I was fortunate to have many great professors. Through my role in student government, I was especially influenced by the then Vice President of Student Affairs, Sandra Sullivan, and by the Vice President for Alumni Relations, Tom Tillar. Tom in particular took a keen interest in my success as a student leader and my career path, and he was especially helpful with respect to my interest in, and admittance to, the University of Virginia Law School. Years later, Tom would introduce me to Brian Slingerland, a fellow Hokie who would later found and serve as CEO of Stemcentrx.
What’s one of your favorite memories from Virginia Tech?
Well this certainly isn’t original, but I always loved fall at Virginia Tech and walking to class amid the changing colors. I also loved giving campus tours, as I was especially proud of the beautiful campus. As for any one event in particular, the MDA Dance Marathon sponsored by the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils was a very fun event that fostered community and raised tens of thousands of dollars for a very worthy cause.
B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Virginia Tech, 1984; Juris Doctor, University of Virginia, 1987
Independent Consultant (September 2016-present); Chief Operating Officer, Stemcentrx, Inc. (a privately held biotechnology company acquired by AbbVie Inc in June 2016) (2015-2016); Partner, Cooley LLP, a law firm (2014); General Partner & Chief Operating Officer, Worldview Technology Partners, a venture capital firm (2001-2014); Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer, RealNames Corporation, a privately held technology company (1999-2001); Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C., a law firm (1995-1999); Associate, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C., a law firm (1987-1995)
ADVISORY BOARDS, COMMITTEES
Advisor to a handful of privately held technology companies.
Class of: 1984
Year Inducted into Academy: 2017