Alumnus pursues dreams back to Saratoga

January 4, 2010 — by Karen Yang

After graduating in 2002, alumnus David Lii returned to Saratoga after college to work as both an assistant coach for the varsity football team and an investment analyst in downtown Saratoga.

Lii, who played football when he was a student here, continued visiting the team during the summers of his college years at UC San Diego. His love for the sport compelled him to take on the position of assistant coach. He now coaches the safeties on defense and works with the special teams.

“I don’t consider it a job whatsoever. I get to go hang out with the boys and help them learn some life lessons on the football field,” said Lii. “The more players, the better because that would mean more get to share the great memories that I have and the bonds that are built with the teammates.”

Looking back to his years at SHS, Lii fondly recalls some of his best memories of playing football. He particularly remembers how he scored the only touchdown during the Los Gatos game his senior year after intercepting and returning a pass for a 96-yard touchdown.

“Football is the ultimate team game. The bond between teammates is like none other and is forever lasting,” said Lii. “Football teaches you the discipline that is required in order to achieve your desired goals.”

The friendships and roots Lii has made through high school football extend beyond sports. During a visit to the team after Lii’s third year at college, he asked Kevin Tanner, who had coached Lii, if he was in need of any summer assistance at his investment firm, Saratoga Research & Investment Management. After interning for a few years, Lii was hired following his graduation as an analyst on the firm’s research team. He has since added the title assistant portfolio manager and in addition to his research responsibilities does most of the trading required to initially invest new portfolios and rebalance existing ones.

“At Saratoga RIM, I like how I’m constantly learning,” said Lii. “And having just touched the tip of the iceberg in my financial investment education, I won’t be leaving anytime soon. Still too much to learn, and too much that our team here can accomplish.”

After working for Saratoga RIM for over three years, Lii expressed his gratitude to the math courses he had taken at SHS. Having taken math through calculus, Lii appreciates the strong foundation that these classes provided for the economic courses he took in college.

“Without these fundamentals, economic theories like equilibrium and efficiency I learned would have been nearly impossible to understand,” said Lii.

The groundwork provided by the AP Computer Science class he took here also galvanized his interest in that subject. Although he had entered UCSD with a plan to major in electrical engineering, Lii became fascinated with computer science after his first year. He was unable to switch to computer science, but he managed to change his major to management science.

Despite this disappointment, Lii continued to pursue his interest, taking all but one lower division computer science course. The skills he acquired from these classes now play a fundamental role at Saratoga RIM.

“The ability to think like a computer scientist surprisingly comes into play at Saratoga RIM,” he said. “It is the computer science logic that allows us to cut down our massive starting database [of 10,000 companies] and be able to focus our attention on the best 200.”

Although Lii had no idea where he was headed while in high school, he now knows that the best advice he took was pursuing his interests, in both career and athletics.

His advice: “Find something that you’re passionate about, and pursue your biggest dreams with it, working as hard as necessary to achieve your goals. And never give up.”

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