703-581-8157 aswinjohn@vt.edu

Interview with James Wu

Interview with James Wu: Brand Consultant.

I conducted an informational interview with James Wu. James currently works independently as a brand consultant. He attended Virginia Tech, majoring in Economics, and graduated in 2001. After school he decided that he did not want to work for a large company, and instead he decided to start a company with some of his classmates. The company explored the relatively new area of digital marketing and eventually became Modea which is located in Blacksburg.

He primarily worked as a salesperson and account manager, recruiting large corporations to use Modea’s services. Modea had placed James in New York since that was where most of his clients at the time were located. During his time there he would attend productions at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He wanted to be able to promote events for them and wanted to make an impact for a non-profit, so he left Modea and worked for the Academy. However he soon found that wanted to make even more social impact.

He joined a non-profit named Acumen that used technology and fundraising to benefit those in poverty around the world. He began in his familiar area of fundraising, but deciding he wanted a change, moved into a marketing and brand position. James largely self-taught himself during this time and went onto become the Global Manager for Branding for Acumen where he rebranded the company.

Having successfully branded Acumen, James then went onto strategic planning for large organizations for a year and half before deciding he wanted to work for himself. He currently does branding and promotion for a variety of non-profits.

I admired how James had moved up largely on his own bootstraps. He created his own company and taught himself to acquire customers and later fundraise. He then learned marketing and branding by himself and became a global brand manager. Additionally, with all the skills and expertise he gained, James always tried to find a way to bring it back to help non-profits and create positive change in the world. It was awesome to see the impact that a Virginia Tech grad was making.

Wanting to move into the branding industry myself, I asked James about possible career paths that would lead to a brand manager position. He told me to avoid data analyst or account manager positions and instead focus on marketing analyst or brand analyst positions since they were most directly associated with the creative positions. I plan to use his advice and hopefully one day I will be able to use my expertise to create positive change in the world!