Alumni Spotlight: Adam Presser

By Lauren Goulston '94
Adam Presser '96 recently sat down with JTD to chat about his accomplished career and how JTD prepared him for everything that followed.
Many years before Adam Presser '96 became the right-hand man to TikTok CEO Shou Chew, before he led WarnerMedia businesses throughout China and Australia and New Zealand, before multiple distinguished Chinese language fellowships and a JD-MBA dual-degree at Harvard, there were The 5C's.  "They were my North Star," Adam  said, reflecting on his formative years at JTD.  "They were my compass."  
How did JTD shape the person you are today?
When I think back to some of my earliest memories of how I wanted to form a value system, how I wanted to treat people and exist within an environment that was new or different, it was really grounded in the 5C's.  Everything about the 5C's was a language for knowing how to be a kind and respectful and thoughtful and curious and engaged person.  It just felt like if you do the 5C's then you can be a positive contributor to your community and the people around you.

What drew you to Chinese entertainment?
Chinese movies. For three years in high school, I watched Chinese movies and had this incredibly eye-opening experience of feeling like, on the surface this was a very foreign and different language and culture, but through the movies, you could start to appreciate that actually so many of the themes are the same as what you would see in any typical Western movie.  I love entertainment and feel like it's a bridge to the world and can be that underlying force that brings people together across cultures.

What have you most enjoyed about working at TikTok?
The mission and the vision of the company, which really is front and center for everyone.  The mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.  The vision is to provide users with three things: a canvas to create, a window to discover, and a bridge to connect.  And I feel personally that is what my journey has been.  Moving to a different country and coming back and seeing media and entertainment in terms of what it should try and accomplish.  I feel those two—the mission and vision—together definitely fit that mold for me.

What is your favorite JTD tradition?
The Carols. I think about the Carols a lot, actually.  I was thinking about them today, about that moment when you light one candle and there'd be a domino effect where everybody's candle would be lit.  The setting was just so beautiful.  You had everyone’s families there, and you're standing with all of your friends, and you're singing these songs.  It just felt like the embodiment of a community.

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