Alum spotlight: Lenny An

Lauren Smith

Nov 30, 2023

Lenny An standing outside with the CMU quad in the background

Lenny An (ENG'11,'12) thinks the rigor of the chemical engineering program at Carnegie Mellon is important in preparing future engineers. He also emphasizes the value of the team-based curriculum, which helps students learn to interact with others.

An remembers bouncing ideas back and forth with classmates in the ChemE cluster. "We weren't sitting at home, studying by ourselves," he says. "We spent so much time together. It showed us that even though we were engineers working on problem sets, we were working in a team."

An graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 2011 and stayed an additional year for the Master of Science in Engineering and Technology Innovation Management program.

He started his career in technology consulting before moving to work for various startups across the advertising and cybersecurity ecosystem. From cybersecurity, An pivoted to politics, working on a Congressional campaign in lower Manhattan and connecting with the Asian diaspora community there.

It’s all about systems thinking. How do you get things from one system to another in the most efficient way possible?

Lenny An, Vice President, Project Management, Citigroup

Back in the private sector, An now works at Citigroup as a vice president for project management. He manages individual work streams in the digital transformation of the loans and lending infrastructure at Citigroup. "It's all about systems thinking," he says. "Chemical engineering still applies. How do you get things from one system to another in the most efficient way possible?"

In addition to his chemical engineering background, An draws on the soft skills he developed as a consultant working in customer-facing roles. "It's a very different way of thinking that I've grown into in my career," he says.

An's way of thinking has also grown during his decade as an alumni volunteer leader. He first connected with the New York Metro Alumni Network when he moved to New York City after completing his master's degree. As he met more alumni in the area, An started helping to plan events and joined the board as the young alumni representative. Eventually, An became president of the New York Metro Alumni Board.

"In New York, there are so many different alumni, spanning so many industries, schools, and years. As president, I had to take on a different lens, to understand how these alumni want to connect," he says.

There are so many different alumni, spanning industries, schools, and years. I had to take on a different lens, to understand how they want to connect.

Lenny An, Vice President, Project Management, Citigroup

After a couple of years, An stepped away from alumni leadership. It wasn't long before he was re-engaged through his side business, Dumpling Dude. An led a virtual dumpling-making workshop for CMU alumni during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dumpling Dude unites people with food. "Dumpling-making is very communal, especially in Chinese families," An says. In the latest evolution of the business, An's small group workshops include themed discussions. "I want to use dumpling-making as a vehicle to invite conversation about topics that I think are important," he says.

An, who is Chinese American, also teaches mahjong lessons in New York. He says he didn't embrace that part of his identity while growing up in Pittsburgh. "With a lot of the things that I'm doing now, I want to tap into my cultural identity and educate others about it," he says.

A year and a half ago, An was nominated for the Alumni Association Board. "I keep having to level up my view. Young alumni, then the New York metro area, and now all alumni across the world," he says. "It's given me more perspective about the university as a whole and how we can help more alumni." This year, An is a co-chair of the Spring Carnival Reunions committee.

"I didn't realize the power of the CMU network for a while," he says. "Everywhere I look, there's someone from CMU. I want to help foster more CMU alumni connections."