Alumni

When Yichi Zhang, ’13, is wearing a T-shirt, it’s impossible not to notice his left arm. He has a full sleeve of tattoos, which isn’t an uncommon sight these days, especially in the millennial generation.

But fellow Richmond alumni will immediately recognize the designs inked on him, including the university’s shield, a spider web, the school mascot, even the façade of the Robins School of Business. Originally set on a career on Wall Street, Zhang had a change of heart before graduating, realizing he wanted to pursue more creative endeavors.

I want to be great at what I do.

“The moment I decided I didn’t want to be in finance, I started designing my tattoo,” said Zhang, a native of China who finished high school in northern Virginia. “I want to be great at what I do, and I want to be the type of person in the future where I can be an ambassador. I can represent and say, ‘Hey, I graduated from UR.’”

Zhang frequently espouses that sentiment — aloud, not just by virtue of the ink on his body. Heavily involved in student activities as an undergraduate, he’s transferred that same spirit to extolling the benefits of a Richmond education to prospective students and organizing alumni gatherings in Beijing, where he lives. That approach has also worked for him professionally, as evidenced by being named to Forbes’ China “30 Under 30” list for his creative branding consulting agency, Flip the Script.

“A personal branding business requires a person to pay a lot of detailed attention to your clients’ projects,” said Zhang, who returned to campus in January to give a talk, “The Art of Storytelling,” at Robins. “Because of that, I need to look into the specific needs that they have and then figure out the angle.”

Perhaps his most successful project has been himself.