UHV alumnus, entrepreneur achieves success in business
University of Houston-Victoria alumnus Steven Kaufman has climbed his way up the ladder of success by creating the mortgage company ZeusLending.com and winning an award from the Houston Business Journal for his leadership.
Like many successful people, Kaufman had to start from the bottom of the ladder to get to the top.
He graduated from the University of Houston-Downtown in 2000 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting, then earned his Master of Science in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at UHV. He recently received his doctorate from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Kaufman already was a CPA when he enrolled at UHV. He practiced accounting during the day, then attended graduate school at night.
“As an accountant in a public accounting firm, I ended up investing in real estate funds very young,” he said. “I didn’t pick finance or mortgage; it picked me. The firm where I happened to work had just started putting me on this case with other mortgage companies. And through a series of events, I started my own firm, ZeusLending.com, in 2001.”
After years of building his company, Kaufman was named Most Admired CEO by the Houston Business Journal. At first, he was surprised by the news and couldn’t believe it.
“I thought the Houston Business Journal had made a mistake,” Kaufman said. “I am grateful for that and the fact that it recognized all of the contributions I made to the people that I work with as well as the city.”
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Kaufman moved to Baytown as a child, then moved to Houston as a teenager to start college. During his time in Houston, Kaufman competed in the first-ever UHD powerlifting competition and placed first.
“I still have the trophy,” he said. “About 10 years later, it led to a semi-professional career in powerlifting. I became a four-time champion and a world record holder in powerlifting. It sparked a pretty cool hobby.”
He contributes some of his success today to UHV and the education he received.
“UHV was the launching pad because of its programs designed for students who need to work during the day,” Kaufman said. “When I was attending the school, almost everyone in my classroom was a professional and was going back to school to earn their degree as well.”
Kaufman said one thing he remembers about the education he received at UHV was how practical the information was.
“Most people who were taking the CPA exam and had earned their degrees at UHV were much more prepared than almost any other university study group I went to,” he said.
In 2013, Kaufman was selected to be the keynote speaker for the UHV fall commencement ceremony in Katy. He said UHV has come a long way since he attended, and he is impressed with the way the university has expanded and evolved.
He loved the faculty members in the UHV School of Business Administration because they had a lot of practical knowledge. Kaufman also said the professors had a deep respect for the students because they were working with professionals.
“The relationship between the students and professors was more like a partnership,” he said. “I completed the Harvard Business School’s strategic marketing program, and even that program didn’t quite have the type of collaboration in education that UHV does.”
Alumni Feature highlights the exceptional alumni who graduated from the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a UHV alumnus, contact Ashley Strevel, UHV communications manager, or call 361-570-4290.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.
Lisa Shapiro, Special to UHV