Adam Blum

When Adam Blum was asked to join the Chancellor's Centurions, he didn't hesitate. "Working with and leading with my peers is important work," he says."We are the future."

Paying Back by Paying it Forward

By any measure, Adam Blum is the kind of benefactor that institutions like The University of Texas at Austin dream of. A faithful Longhorn (he earned his BBA and MPA in 2006), Adam’s loyalty to his alma mater was steadfast throughout his years as a student. He never missed a Longhorn football game—whether played at home or away. As a student in the McCombs School of Business, he created and taught the “Advanced Topics in Financial Reporting” course, which is still available to students. Upon graduation, he continued his involvement as a lecturer, mentor and volunteer in the business school. Today, Adam serves on the Longhorn Foundation Board and BBA advisory board. His generous financial contributions to those entities secured him a spot in the Chancellor’s Council, and he was one of the first alums to be asked to become a Chancellor’s Centurion.

“When they formed the Centurions and asked me to join, I didn’t hesitate,” Adam says. “Working with and leading with my peers is important work. We are the future. I was eager to be around other young people who have the same passion.”

Building connections is one of Adam’s specialties. When he went off to Goldman Sachs in New York soon after receiving his diploma, Adam sought out mentors and worked hard to become indispensable to his colleagues. He set high personal standards, was his own “tough boss,” and he smiled—a lot. “Wall Street is, obviously, a very unique place to be. It was full of people with edgy personalities. So I thought that if I were likable, if people enjoyed working with me, then I could show what I could do.”

Adam’s approach worked. He made sound investments and lifelong friends. In 2008, news of his successes drifted southward and Adam was recruited by Austin Ventures to be a conduit for arranging financing for new and growing local businesses. Then, in 2011, Adam took a big leap and went out on his own.

“At some point, you have to get out there and take a risk,” says Adam. “I was in a good position, financially, so—at age 28—I started doing it on my own.” Since founding his company, Adam has made investments in oil and gas, distressed real estate and a few start-ups. He has assisted clients with government contracts and dabbled in the import/export business. “This is sink or swim. Still, I’m careful and I don’t take unnecessary risks. I go find interesting stuff and do it.”

Among the issues that captures Adam’s attention and philanthropy is public higher education in Texas, which is why he is an ardent supporter of both UT Austin and the UT System. “It’s my duty as a Texan to support the institutions of Texas.” In doing so, he adds, he and others can help to minimize the gap that exists between the public funds allocated for and the actual cost of running a system of universities and health care institutions. “We can’t always raise tuition, so we need to increase philanthropy,” Adam asserts.

The Centurions are in a great position to engender such support. “Most of the young leaders in Centurions are ‘pied pipers’ and have tremendous influence in their broad networks,” he explains. The Centurions “can engage their communities” and reach a segment of the population that “no one else in the system can reach.”

What’s more, says Adam, when you bring up-and-coming leaders together “under the banner of furthering the mission of the UT System,” you help to build a strong network within the group, which can lead “to any number of professional, social and other community outlets and opportunities for members.”

Adam firmly believes that he and his fellow Centurions are poised to join the next generation of global leaders. In accepting that mantle however, he is also keenly aware of his obligation to pay back—and pay it forward. “We’ve all made it. We’ve grown up and succeeded with help from our mentors and universities,” Adam says.  Mentoring others and encouraging them to become actively involved in supporting higher education and the UT System, “is just the right thing to do.”