Parameters for image-map-2:{}
University of New Haven logo
Joe Young
Joseph Young '86 M.S.
Executive Vice President of Global Operations, Finisar

Growth Strategy

In 2004, Finisar, a supplier of optical communication components and subsystems based in Sunnyvale, Calif., was a healthy $200 million venture. Then Joseph Young ’86 M.S. assumed the position of executive vice president of global operations. Nine years later, the company is the world’s largest supplier of optical components and subsystems, with revenues just shy of $1 billion.

Growth and development have followed Young consistently. Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering the drive and dedication he had for his own professional development in the early stages of his career.

After graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a B.S. in management engineering, Young began his career at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford. Just a year later, he embarked on his master’s degree in engineering at UNH as a night student.

“Pratt & Whitney was a wonderful experience, and they offered tuition reimbursement,” he recalls. “So two nights a week I attended classes at UNH, driving about 45 minutes from work to West Haven.”

But Young’s educational aspirations didn’t stop there. Still two classes shy of earning his M.S., he put his UNH studies on hold when the opportunity presented itself to pursue his MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

After completing his MBA, Young picked right back up where he’d left off at UNH, completing his final credits through independent studies from across the country in Silicon Valley, where he had taken an engineering position at Raychem, another giant in the aerospace, automotive and telecommunications industry.

“It was through the help of my advisor at UNH, Dr. Ira Kleinfeld, that I was able to finish those final credits,” Young says. “I’ve always felt the faculty at UNH were really focused on supporting students like myself, people who were working but were motivated to learn more and advance their career.”

With an M.S. and an MBA under his belt, Young channeled that motivation, working his way up the ranks at Raychem to become the company’s senior director of operations for the electronics group.

In 1999 he made the decision to try a completely different corporate culture, becoming the vice president of operations at a startup called Lexar at the start of the age of digital photography and in the midst of the dotcom boom. The company would go on to become a leader in the manufacture of digital media products.

Young soon became VP of operations at yet another successful startup, LightLogic, a fiber optics company that was acquired by Intel in 2001. He oversaw the enterprise optics unit at Intel until 2004, when he left to take his current position at Finisar.

Along the way he also found time to marry and have two children. His daughter, Sarah, is attending medical school at Virginia Tech. His son, Joseph, graduated from RPI last year. Young says he’s not sure his son will follow his footsteps, pursuing multiple advanced degrees amid such a flurry of professional growth.

But he says he would recommend it to anyone.

Posted Summer 2013