From Nanjing to NYC
In 1992 Cliff Chow moved to the United States—Blacksburg, Virginia to be specific. His story isn’t a born-to-build story, in fact Cliff was born to be wild. Growing up he always wanted to be an entertainer, a rock star. Those who know him will find this easy to believe. However, his grandfather was an iron worker and his father worked on large civil projects in his hometown of Nanjing, China, so off he went to Virginia Tech to earn a degree in Engineering.
“I didn’t come to the States to act,” reminisced Cliff, “I came to study engineering because it was our family tradition.” After earning his Master’s in Civil Engineering, he turned in his books and put on a suit to step into his role as a project manager at HITT. It was 1998 and, for those of us who remember, the industry was a different animal. The landscape was not too dissimilar to the Wild West—and Cliff wanted a part of it. “I’m pleasantly surprised that the dream I always wanted to pursue helped me be successful at HITT. It comes down to charisma, a strong desire to express myself that made me successful. People remember me.”
The core HITT values that Cliff adopted in his first few years are still alive today. “They were true American values: hold yourself to the highest standards, manage aggressively, exceed client expectations, and work hard, play hard.” Cliff admits that while he embraced these values, he may have adopted the play hard part most enthusiastically. Executive Vice President Brian Kriz said “Cliff’s success can be attributed to a combination of strong leadership and loyalty. He approaches everything strategically and relentlessly pursues excellence.”
To Cliff, one American value that HITT embodies stands above all others: individualism. “Chinese, Asian, naturalized American citizen—my diversity is more than that. It’s my eccentric appearance. When Brett hired me I had platinum blonde hair and earrings.” Cliff remembers how Co-Chairman Brett Hitt was able to see through his appearance to his potential. “Diversity is what makes this company the best place to work. We need to remain open minded for the generations to come.”
Almost 20 years later, his days are spent in the same place many American immigrants first landed—New York City—leading our regional office as a vice president. “Despite our employees’ differences in hobbies, interests, or backgrounds, our clients receive consistent service because we all embrace the same values. HITT’s future is diverse and bright.”