2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: William Ryu, College of William & Mary (Mason)

William Ryu

College of William & Mary, Raymond A. Mason School of Business

“Active citizen, sushi aficionado & enthusiast of well-organized spreadsheets.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have traveled to 28 countries and 33 US states so far – hoping to double the former and make the latter all 50 by 30!

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea & Fairfax, VA

High School: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology

Major: International Relations & Business Analytics (Data Science)

Minor: Management & Organizational Leadership

Favorite Business Course: Sustainably-Inspired Innovation & Design

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Alvin P. Anderson Scholar
  • Robert M. & Rebecca W. Gates Scholar
  • Branch Out Alternative Breaks – Development Coordinator & Site Leader
  • The Gentlemen of the College a cappella – Publicity Manager & Historian
  • New Student Orientation Aide & Griffin Ambassador
  • Merrimac Juvenile Detention Center – W&M Community Mentor
  • Student Assembly – Chair of Independent Elections Commission
  • Kappa Delta Rho & Order of Omega
  • Aide to University President Rowe
  • Aide to Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences Donoghue Velleca
  • Cohen Career Center – Employer Relations Assistant
  • Reeder Media Center – Student Media Assistant
  • William & Mary High School Model United Nations Conference – Chief of Staff

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • EY – Risk Advisory Consultant [Tysons, VA]
  • Navigators Global – Research Intern [Washington D.C.]
  • Global Research Institute – AidData Research Assistant [Williamsburg, VA]

Where will you be working after graduation? Accenture Federal Services – Management Consulting Analyst

What company do you admire most? One of the companies that I admire the most is Clif Bar. I’ve always enjoyed their products but also admire the company for its efforts in sustainability and value-driven management. I’ve noticed the intentionality that Clif Bar prioritizes in its practices of corporate social responsibility and respect many of the decisions that its leaders have made to support various communities and populations in need.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Don’t let any of the prerequisite classes determine the fate of your interest in business. Classes like introductory accounting made me question my ability to pursue business as a major, so I joined the undergraduate business program as a minor in Management & Organizational Leadership. I am a firm believer of divergent paths in life leading to unpredictably positive outcomes, as my affirming experiences with that minor eventually pushed me to pursue more with business. However, I wish someone had told me that finding one or two of the prerequisite classes challenging should not discourage me from being confident in my ability to be a successful business major.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? (Everything that you see on The Office is the complete opposite of how a business should be managed and led.) In all seriousness, the thing that has surprised me the most about studying business is how people-centric it is in multiple dimensions. While I expected to study consumer behavior and client-engagement practices, I didn’t expect to learn about how to be intuitive leaders, inclusive peers, and intentional members of the community. Nearly every one of our classes has required some sort of collaboration, teaching us the importance of strategic teamwork and equitable codependence.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? The extracurricular achievement that I’m most proud of is having successfully co-led Branch Out, our university’s service-learning alternative breaks program,during the COVID-19 pandemic. Branch Out typically revolves around in-person community engagement activities, and every aspect of our program had to be reimagined to prioritize the health of our students and our partnering community organizations. While virtually-adapting our program, we focused on making it accessible to all students and engaging with organizations that we were previously unable to learn from. Through our efforts, we were able to successfully recruit record numbers of applicants for our program and make meaningful impacts across communities. I am most proud of this achievement as it taught me how to focus on the core mission and values of an organization to effectively adapt to challenging circumstances while preserving what is most important.

Which classmate do you most admire? Suzie Bae ’20 – Suzie has a level of ambition and motivation that has thankfully often rubbed off on me. I most admire her ability to set a goal and see that it gets achieved no matter the hurdles to overcome. I truthfully often think “What would Suzie do?” and become inspired to make the most of what I have to accomplish things that appear daunting at first. I am fortunate to have had a peer mentor as supportive and encouraging as her during my time at William & Mary.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? This is probably a cheesy answer, but my mom. Growing up, my mom encouraged me to pursue anything and everything that I was interested in. She has helped me see challenges and uncertainties I come across as opportunities, and I owe my constant curiosity and drive to be involved to the encouragement she has given me to explore and learn. I greatly enjoy being actively involved in a number of activities and organizations, and hope to remain that way beyond my days at William & Mary.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I hope to eventually serve as an ambassador for the US State Department. I’ve also wanted to be an architect at some point in my life – I would love to pursue that goal sometime in the next decade or two!

What are your hobbies? Photography, Hiking, Traveling, Architecture & Design

What made Will such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?  

“I could list several reasons as to why Will is such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021, but the most important one for me is his genuine commitment to improve the community around him and William & Mary is a better place because of him.

Community commitment has lost some of its meaning because, unfortunately, it has been adopted by organizations across the globe that want to clean up their social act, though only in words. But in the case of Will, this is a value by which he lives. During his time with us, he has taken a number of leadership positions in student organizations and committees. He has used his roles to challenge the status quo when the organizational thinking was stuck in the proverbial rut and did not take appropriate account of, for instance, diversity and inclusion. Changing the way an organization operates takes stamina, the ability to push outside one’s comfort level, and a strong desire to overcome the inertia sticking with the old, and inadequate, ways of thinking. This is exactly what Will has been doing while a student with us, and what he will be doing once he graduates.

Will is one of the brightest students with whom I have had the pleasure of working. He is the ideal candidate for any number of positions where he would do brilliantly. Instead of applying to the highest paid jobs, Will meticulously research positions that would allow him to make the greatest social and community impact. He was attentive when employers talked about how they invest in the local community, how they value stakeholders’ feedback, and made his career decisions based on these factors. This alone demonstrates a maturity and clarity that many people—me included—do not have at his young age.

As graduation day fast approaches, I look at Will with mix feelings: melancholy, because I will miss him when he graduates, and immense hope, because whatever his future holds, he will not give up working towards meaningful and lasting social impact. What an honor to have met him.”

Iria Giuffrida
Professor of the Practice of Law / Deputy Director, CLCT, William & Mary Law School
Visiting Faculty for Business Law, Raymond A. Mason School of Business

“Will is a student coordinator with Branch Out Alternative Breaks. He’s brought a fruitful mix of skills and determination to the role: creative thinking, graphic design, information management, marketing, critical analysis, and a willingness to chase the details that make the big picture better, while dreaming an ever-improving big picture. Underlying his work is a clear commitment to equity, and care for others. Will also employs practices of community-building while doing his work to expand the Branch Out community, drawing our team together for work and fun. It has made our leadership board and program stronger, and those involved have enjoyed their work and roles more because of his efforts.”

Melody C. Porter                                     
Director, Office of Community Engagement

“Will was a student in my Principles of Marketing course in the Spring of 2019. One of the first things that stands out about Will is his welcoming nature and his optimistic, positive attitude.  While he is a very intelligent and ambitious young man, it is his approach to life that makes him stand out. Even amid a pandemic, his outlook is always positive and encouraging.  He was very active in class discussions and his comments reflected thoughtfulness and understanding.  I truly enjoyed having him in class, but more importantly, I have enjoyed getting to know him since he has been in my class since he has made it a point to stay in touch.”

Lisa Szykman
Associate Professor, Marketing


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