Meet the MBA Class of 2024: James Ma, Ivey Business School

James Ma

Ivey Business School at Western University

“I’m a competitive person at heart with a passion for learning and teaching.”

Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI, USA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was a professional Super Smash Bros. Melee player, formerly ranked #12 in the world

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor – Major: Aerospace Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: North American Lighting, Design Engineer

How has the case method enriched your learning? I love the case method, I’m significantly more engaged in every class and it has allowed me to learn about multiple industries from my classmates. The breadth of experience and the organic sharing of knowledge would be very difficult to replicate with traditional teaching methods.

Aside from classmates and cases, what part of the school’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The length of the program was definitely a key part of my decision-making. I am American and my wife is Canadian. We decided that we wanted to move to Canada to raise our family. I have one year in school to advance my career, but also to foster that transition compared to two years was very important to us.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I was at ZF (previously TRW), I designed a number of brake packages and rotating components for the RAM HD trucks by myself from scratch. The situation was very abnormal due to a combination of retirements and resignations where I was left alone to do the work. It was incredibly challenging and involved a lot of learning and innovation to deliver everything on time, but the process and results were very fulfilling. If you see a RAM HD truck on the road, chances are something I designed is in there.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Something that I have always enjoyed is coaching talented people. Throughout this school year, I have had the opportunity to host both formal and informal review sessions for classmates in subjects where I’m strong. The feedback I’ve gotten is that my review sessions were very helpful during the final exams and I’ve gotten personal thanks from a number of classmates.

Where is your favorite hang-out in London (Ontario)? Why do you (or your classmates) gravitate there? I don’t have a favorite hang-out spot in London, but I regularly go out to eat at restaurants with my classmates, I keep a list of local restaurants that I rate, comments on, and share. I’m a home cook and avid food enjoyer; sharing new and different types of cuisines with friends is one of my great joys in life.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? Post-graduation, I hope to find employment either in finance or consulting. The MBA program has really broadened my view of what opportunities are possible and I have made a real effort to look into options outside of returning to the engineering field.

What did you do during the application process that enabled you to get accepted into Ivey? I was very authentic in my application. When you know who you are it’s a lot easier to craft the narratives and storylines necessary for your application and interview. I think authenticity really shines through.


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