Alumni in Action: Skip Sanzeri ’83

Skip Sanzeri ’83.
Alumni in Action

Since graduating from the College 40 years ago, Skip Sanzeri ’83 has mentored dozens of Claremont McKenna students, recent graduates and even high school students interested in attending CMC. It’s his way of giving back. “I certainly feel like I owe a lot to CMC,” he said.

Sanzeri of San Mateo, Calif. is the founder, chief operating officer and chair at QuSecure, which works on advanced quantum-safe cybersecurity “to prepare for the day when quantum computers come online with enough power to break all of the world's current public key encryption,” he said. He shared his thoughts on how CMC is special and how it has prepared him in all aspects of his life.

What were some of your favorite experiences while at CMC?

Overall, my favorite part of CMC was the camaraderie with the other students. CMC had a great balance of academic and social activities, and I happen to play a sport as well. So, whether it was hanging with the baseball team, my dorm mates or other groups, my favorite experiences involved being with different groups of friends.

In particular, one of my favorite memories was when the CMC baseball team won SCIAC and we went to the nationals in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. We gave it a great run back there but came up short. So not only did we lose, but the locals thought it would be funny to play “Hotel California" by the Eagles over the speakers as we were exiting the stadium.

On campus I had a lot of fantastic experiences. I recall in 1980 I was taking a class in political science from Fred Balitzer and he was supporting Ronald Reagan for President so we were asked to drive for Reagan’s motorcade on the 405 Freeway as he was going to speak at Loyola Marymount. I remember they shut the freeway down and there were a lot of upset commuters. It was a great experience since we were able to hang out with Reagan's team.

How did your time at CMC prepare you for your career?

CMC provided an amazing learning environment for me, largely built around the fantastic students and faculty. When I arrived at CMC, I realized I was now with some of the smartest people I had ever met. Since I attended a public high school in San Mateo, I now needed it to “keep up,“ so I was continually challenged to improve. Additionally, small class sizes allowed learning to be a fun exercise because we were able to actively contribute to each class and we were encouraged to meet with professors one-on- one. As a result, I was excited about learning, but also this aspect of CMC helped me as I worked through various curricula. Both students and faculty were extremely helpful, and it seemed like everybody was trying to ensure we all succeeded.

On a more specific note, I gravitated towards microeconomics, or the theory of the firm. I’ve always enjoyed small business and to this day, I still work with small businesses as I have worked in venture capital and a few years ago decided to launch another a venture-backed start up. Shortly after graduating I bought my first business and I’ve always enjoyed trying to turn small companies into larger ones. My microeconomics, banking, and marketing classes all contributed to my career.

How would you describe the CMC community?

I can think of none better. My years at CMC created some of the fondest memories that I have. In my opinion, the environment provided the perfect balance of academia, social activities, and athletics. It seemed like the school was supporting us in all these areas and wasn’t leaning towards one or the other. My boys attended other colleges, and I could see that those campuses seemed to emphasize one of the three over the others. CMC allowed me to be me, yet at the same time I could grow and change with the environment, students and faculty.

Why is it important for you to be involved at CMC?

I certainly feel like I owe a lot to CMC. I give as much as I can, and also participate in as many activities as possible. Additionally, I found it important and beneficial to provide mentorship to CMC students and recent grads. Each time a CMC student contacts me directly or via LinkedIn, I always try to respond and help. I’ve even mentored high school students applying to CMC to ensure that they know all of the benefits of attending CMC and have the best chance of admission.

To demonstrate some of the ways that CMC has continued to provide benefits in my life, I would simply refer to my own company, QuSecure. Noah Mesel ’83 and I have kept in touch over the years and not only have followed each other’s careers but have become very good friends. In fact, Noah is one of the first people I met at a welcome party in 1979 in Pleasanton Calif. Now Noah is the chief legal officer at QuSecure.

Additionally, Pat Shore ’19 is one of our program managers at QuSecure. Pat and I met at a CMC baseball alumni virtual event that was held during Covid. Pat contacted me after the event and told me he was interested in what we were doing. Since he had a physics degree from CMC, he was perfect to join our company as we were working on cybersecurity to handle quantum computing threats.

And, Matt Gleason ’88 is one of our investors, as is his brother Chris Gleason, who attended Pomona and graduated in 1987. We have a few Stanford folks in our company, and a friendly competition, but the running joke now is that CMC has taken over! Lastly, you never know what CMC’ers you’ll run into as you traverse life journeys. Accenture is one of our very important partners at QuSecure and is led by Julie Sweet ’89 who is currently the chair and CEO of Accenture.

I feel like in today’s environment it’s more difficult than ever for recent college graduates to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. So, I encourage students to use the CMC network as much as possible and ask for help, or to just build connections. I didn’t do that when I was first moving into the workforce, but I can see the value now. I’ve found that there is a fantastic trust between CMC alumni that just cannot be duplicated elsewhere.

Gilien Silsby


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