2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: James Ly, Wisconsin School of Business

James Ly

University of Wisconsin School of Business

“A jokester who loves riding his electric scooter and accumulating unfolded laundry.”

Fun fact about yourself: Half my wardrobe is from Costco or Amazon Basics

Hometown: Eden Prairie, Minnesota

High School: The Blake School

Major(s): Marketing

Certificate(s): Public Policy, Education and Education Services

Favorite Business Course: GEN BUS 306 – Business Analytics I

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During


Business Involvement:

Wisconsin Consulting Club

  • President
  • Vice President of Internal Development
  • Internal Coordinator

Wisconsin School of Business

  • Consulting Certificate Committee
  • Senate Council

American Marketing Association:

  • Vice President of Programming
  • Diversity & Inclusion Committee Lead

Non-business Involvement:

  • Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Affinity Group
  • Running Club
  • Asian American Student Union
  • Psychology Club


  • Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs Kohl Scholar
  • Dean’s List

Where have you interned during your college career?

Kaiser Associates: Washington D.C., Summer Associate Consultant

Office of Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan: St. Paul, MN, Public Engagement Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided

Who is your favorite business professor? My favorite business professor is Michael Johnson who teaches Marketing. I am currently enrolled in his Marketing Strategy course, and am loving it. Professor Johnson teaches with such great passion and has deep expertise in the field. For every case study we examine, Professor Johnson will be able to connect it to our own life experiences in a way that makes the content more engaging and applicable.

I admire his love for teaching and truly look forward to attending class each day even in a snowstorm.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? In general, I would encourage all students looking to major in a business-related field to be open to new opportunities and be adaptable.

On a more personal level, my biggest piece of advice is to create your own definition of success and embrace failure. In terms of creating your own definition of success, it is important to note that everyone is on their own individual journey. No one knows what goes on behind the scenes in your life, so you should give yourself credit for what you have accomplished and factor that into your personal definition of success. Be more self-compassionate!

My second piece of advice would be to embrace failure. View each failure as an opportunity for learning and growth. The strongest business leaders can lead through the good times and the bad times. Embracing failure is an essential skill in business and in life.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What surprised me most about majoring in business was how essential business is to social impact oriented organizations. Initially, I knew having a business background was important for running non-profits and philanthropies, but I didn’t know the magnitude until after taking business classes. I started to learn about how many non-profits failed due to mismanagement. Now I have a better understanding of how versatile a business background can be in other disciplines and areas of study.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? All of my success and failure from the past has led me to who I am today. I am incredibly proud of how far I have come over these past few years, and so I wouldn’t do anything differently.

What business leader do you admire most? I admire Will Shivers most. Will is a Senior Associate Consultant at Kaiser Associates, where I interned last summer. He is incredibly charismatic and hard-working. Will radiates positive energy and is dedicated to being a better version of himself each and every day. His ability to motivate and inspire others is absolutely unmatched. I look forward to seeing what Will accomplishes further in his career and am thankful to have been able to learn from him.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of becoming President of the Wisconsin Consulting Club. I joined as a way to make some friends in the midst of a pandemic. Joining turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Here, I have met my best friends, and some of the smartest and hardest-working people I know. It is an absolute honor to be a part of such an amazing organization.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I most admire would easily be Dana Tabaza. Dana embodies the definition of resilience and perseverance. She gives 100% effort into everything she does from academics to extracurriculars. I am amazed by her ability to learn new things and adapt to difficult situations. Dana also excels beyond the classroom. Over my time in college, I have seen Dana single-handedly transform the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Middle Eastern North African (MENA) culture programming. She has taken on many initiatives to create a more inclusive environment. Dana makes a big impact in every community she is a part of, and is truly one of the most admirable and inspirational students on campus.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank Leta Krueger. Leta was the President of the Wisconsin Consulting Club the year before me. Throughout that year, I had the pleasure of working on the board with her. It felt like each week we had a disagreement, but looking back I realized how much she cared about my personal and professional development. She was very patient with me and continued to push me to be a better version of myself. She helped me with interview preparation, and she helped me understand different leadership styles and skills. Leta has given me many opportunities and I am incredibly thankful for her leadership in the Wisconsin Consulting Club. Leta paved the way for me to follow in her footsteps as President of the Wisconsin Consulting Club, and I attribute that as being one of the most important factors in my success today.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? As a first-generation college student, it has been a dream of mine since high school to graduate college. My second bucket list item is to found a company dedicated to advancing workforce, social, and economic mobility.

What are your hobbies? I love to play hockey, chess, video games, and listen to music. I also love to hype up my friends.

What made James such an invaluable member of the Class of 2023?

“James Ly is a first-generation college student in the Wisconsin School of Business. James is an active member in the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) student organization and continually seeks out new perspectives inside and outside the Wisconsin School of Business community.

As the President of the Wisconsin Consulting Club, James organized multiple diversity and inclusion events for the Wisconsin Consulting Club. Most notably, collaborating with a newly created student organization, HUMAN Capital, on a mental health awareness event. The event focused on work-life balance. Specifically, it focused on how consultants tend to set high expectations for themselves during the academic year as they try to balance the job search process alongside co-curricular involvement and the pressures of having to have a great resume and be ‘top-notch’ candidates.

James previously held a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion position in the American Marketing Association during a time when DEI positions were newly created within only a few student organizations in efforts of inclusivity. The American Marketing Association is a student organization comprised of approximately 130 members.”

Natalie Arriaga De Brooks (she, her, ella)
Student Life Manager for Engagement
Wisconsin School of Business


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