Alex Plutzer Interview
Welcome to the first in a series of interviews highlighting LRS alumni/ae and their interesting and meaningful “lives after Long Ridge.” We are grateful to the alums who have agreed to participate and to Christine Costello, a current parent of Charlie ‘22 and Director of Admissions, who is conducting the interviews. An interview with Alex Plutzer, who started in Kindergarten in 1995 and graduated in 2001, follows:
Alex Plutzer’s curiosity for creating and building began at an early age in K-1 with Rebecca Fass and Robin Redniss. “I was always interested in construction, hammers, nails, bulldozers, and all sorts of stuff. And Legos! And somehow that made its way into technology.” Alex is participating in a rotational program at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA for product management and he’s currently working on his second rotation in Instagram Ads.
He works with a team, which includes engineers and a designer. As a product manager, his role is to set the goals for the team. As Plutzer explains, he helps to facilitate and “articulate the problem we are trying to solve and the opportunity. And then being that polar north compass that’s always making sure the team is heading in the right direction and making sure that everyone is briefed on progress and roadblocks.”
For Plutzer, a career in technology was a natural evolution, which began for him at Long Ridge where he was encouraged to develop a keen sense of curiosity. “I love trying new things and new experiences. This helps me in the technology world.” He adds, “Kids at Long Ridge are curious. Every kid is curious but Long Ridge encourages that. They are totally about you. Turning the box over. And seeing what’s inside.”
Not only did Long Ridge foster Alex’s inquisitive mind but it was also the place where he discovered two lifelong passions, music and art. Plutzer recalls, “I love music, and I don’t know if it was developed by Faith or because of Faith but she is a big person in developing my love of music. I went on to play a bunch of instruments by ear.” While at Long Ridge Alex’s talent for art and design began to emerge: “My love of art definitely started at Long Ridge. It was Karen Weissman who really got me interested in Sculpey. Sculpey is a kid’s version of clay. I used to love making patterns. That, I think combined with Legos, got me really into patterns and design.”
It was in 4-5 where Plutzer’s analytical skills were shaped by Ruth Qadrud-Din and Kathy King. They taught him the valuable and lifelong skill of perspective and understanding that no matter the subject, whether it was history or math, he could learn about a subject through varying viewpoints. As Alex explains, “Long Ridge took an interesting part in really opening up both sides for me. It’s something we try to do at Facebook a lot. It’s empathizing with the people who are using the stuff that we build. And making sure that we’re not just building stuff for ourselves. And that was something cool that I think Long Ridge did. It was about understanding something from both sides, which I really loved. Kathy and Ruth were a big part of that.”
After graduating from LRS, Alex attended the Rippowam Middle School and Stamford High School. In 2012 he went on to receive his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, with a major in anthropology and a minor in architecture.
When asked what sets Long Ridge apart from any other school, Plutzer says, “I think Long Ridge tries to instill really good moral and people values. You don’t just need to teach someone to be smart; you need to teach them how to apply it for good. And how to actually be a good person. And to me that’s the stuff that Long Ridge really specializes in.”
Alex’s advice to graduating Long Ridge students: “You now have a responsibility to pass on these learnings to other people. It was the first line of a song we sang at LRS, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” You’re now one of those sparks and it’s your job to create those fires. When you see that someone isn’t being considerate or thinking about something from the flip side or someone is bullying – it’s your turn to step up and think about what you learned at Long Ridge and be that spark.”