Sun, Mar 06, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Richard Chang leads by example

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Richard Chang rises to the occasion while playing for Taiwan's national team during the mid-1980s. Chang is now now president of Costco Wholesale Inc (Taiwan).

PHOTO: RICHARD CHANG

Where are they now?

This is a question that is often asked about former sports stars.

In a three-part series this month, we will visit three former athletes who took the nation by a storm with their stellar performances while at the pinnacle of their athletic careers. Each of them then found an equally rewarding career after their competitive days were over.

Richard Chang (張嗣漢), now president of Costco Wholesale Inc (Taiwan), made the most of his four-year basketball scholarship at the University of California at Berkeley during the mid-1980s, where he played NCAA Division I basketball and graduated with a degree in international economics.

He then returned to Taiwan to play on the national basketball team for several memorable seasons before heading back to the US to pursue a career in commercial real estate and subsequently in the wholesale-warehouse industry.

With his American style of play and an uncompromising approach toward the game, Chang set a new standard for how basketball was played here in the mid-1980s as he led Team Taiwan to memorable tournament sweeps of the Japanese and South Korean national teams in the 1985 and 1988 Jones' Cup, respectively, making Chang a household name in Taiwan.

Chang says his secret to success in the business world is related to the work-ethic that his college basketball coach, Lou Campanelli, instilled in him some 20 years ago. Chang says that he has applied the same work ethic to building Costco into a market leader in the local wholesale-warehouse sector.

"The dedication and discipline that it takes for a young athlete to excel in his game exceed those of any typical seasoned business associate by far," Chang said. "There is no reason why a successful athlete couldn't do well in any career after sports."

While former athletes may not have problems with mustering up a desire to succeed, they are, nevertheless, not always given the proper training when deciding to pursue another career.

This is why Chang has organized an initiative called "Life after Athletics" as a way of providing young athletes with valuable work experiences and a viable strategy in preparation for life after their sports careers have ended.

The program invites qualified local athletes to participate in an internship program with corporations to gain work experience in the corporate world.

Companies participating in the program include Proctor & Gamble, Taiwan Cellular Corp, American Express, Nike and UPS.

"It's a way for me to give back to the community and the young athletes who have committed much of their lives to a sport that they love," Chang said.

Chang also recognizes the challenges involved in getting athletes to put aside their celebrity status to "really learn the ropes" in a brand new vocation.

And while many athletes may dream of becoming a coach after they're too old to compete, such an option may not be available or desirable for everyone.

"Becoming a coach in the sport you love is a great way to transition into another career after athletics, but not necessarily the only way," Chang said.

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