Morgan Lee Lives in Levis—“One of the Most Iconic Brands in the World”
by Marianne Skoczek
Morgan Lee MBA 99 has worked for some of the best-known and respected brands in the global marketplace in a variety of financial and strategic positions. “Intel was an ideal place to work immediately following graduation; it allowed me to learn how a world-class high-tech manufacturing company operates,” he says. “The finance rotation program gave me the opportunity to support various facets of the company, including IT, marketing and revenue.”
Next, Lee dove into the fast-paced and dynamic world of interactive entertainment working at Electronic Arts, an international leader in video games. “I was pretty popular at cocktail parties when guys would learn that I forecasted video game sales for a living and had to play video games for work as part of my research,” he remembers. Today Lee is director of corporate finance at Levi Strauss, thrilled to be working for “one of the most iconic brands in the world.”
What are you passionate about in your work?
It is great to be able to work for a company with such a long history and with local San Francisco roots. Who didn’t ever have a pair of Levi’s jeans in their closet?
As director of corporate finance, I am constantly working to drive our finance team to work smarter, more efficiently and help our business partners make the right financial decisions. I am in a unique position where I am faced with many problems that don’t have clear solutions. I often need to figure out a solution on the fly—which keeps me on my toes.
Where is your career headed?
My role seems to be ever changing and evolving, which has kept things interesting for me. What I like about finance is that the core financial skills can be transferred to almost any industry, whether you are selling semiconductors, video games or jeans. Sometimes the most interesting opportunities present themselves when you least expect it.
How are you a game changer? Or—how are you making a positive impact in the world?
One of the benefits of working at Levi Strauss is the emphasis on volunteerism, community activism and making environmentally conscious business decisions. Our motto has always been “profits with principles.” Every year, a worldwide community day is held where all Levis employees volunteer at local charities. It’s a great way to give back to the community. Also, a portion of our profits are set aside every year to fund our nonprofit foundation.
How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?
The GSM’s focus on teamwork and collaboration has really helped me throughout my professional career. These soft traits are often overlooked but crucial in navigating and being successful the corporate world. In many instances, it is not only about how smart or talented you are, but also how well you can rally your co-workers behind you toward a common cause.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
I married a fellow UC Davis Aggie and we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this year. We live in San Francisco with our two sons, ages six and three. It’s great to be able to live and explore the city with the family, whether it’s playing on the beach at Chrissy Field or taking the kids to Union Square. And there is never a shortage of new restaurants to try when the wife and I have a date night.
Your favorite GSM memory?
There are too many memories to pick just one. The lifelong friendships and alumni network developed at the GSM are as important, if not even more important, than anything learned in a classroom. At a smaller school, there’s an especially strong bond developed between alumni. I do fondly remember playing on the GSM intramural sports teams and trying to keep up with the undergrads.
How do you support and participate in the GSM now? Why is it important to support graduate business education?
I try to bring the family to Picnic Day whenever I can to visit the campus and the GSM. The GSM was an integral part of my professional success so I definitely want to give back whenever I can, either financially or through investing my time helping out fellow alumni.
Anything else you’d like to share?
As a San Francisco native and an avid Giants fan, I have been fortunate enough to see a World Series game and a Giants no-hitter in person at AT&T park. When I am not working or home with the family, you can always look for me at the ballpark at Levi’s Landing.