Marcus L. Wang was living and working in Manhattan. He had a prestigious job, with DLA Piper, in the top city, and his hours were 9 to 5. “That’s 9 a.m. to 5 a.m.,” said Wang, who saw the grueling hours as “part of my journey. I wanted legal experience in international business.”
The international arena was a long-time career goal of the Baltimore County native. After Harvard College, where he majored in English and American literature, Wang worked for a year at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development learning about international investments.
“Having a legal background was a plus,” said Wang, who then enrolled in Maryland with a Samuel and Anne Hopkins Leadership Scholarship, focusing on international law and spending a semester in his third year at a law school in China. “It was my first trip to China,” said Wang, whose parents are Burmese.
After almost two years at Piper, Wang had a decision to make. “Either I committed to the law or got out,” said Wang, who began looking for business opportunities. He found them at Under Armour, the Baltimore-based performance athletic brand company that was then young and local but thinking global.
Wang was offered the job of opening the company’s first retail store in China. It meant managing Under Armour’s entry into that market, “and you don’t get a second chance at first impressions,” said Wang, Operations Manager, China, who originally worked alone and is now the sole American on a four-member team.
The challenges were many, from understanding the Chinese consumer, who doesn’t play football or lacrosse, to the correct sizing. “And all without sacrificing brand integrity,” said Wang, where the store, in Shanghai, has become a huge hit. Wang lives in that city and returns to Baltimore once or twice a year.
In 2008, Wang founded the Leadership Scholars Legacy Endowment at Maryland, with the goal of encouraging contributions from others, whatever the amount.
“I owe so much to the law school and to the Hopkins scholarship. I wanted to pay it forward,” Wang said of the scholarship fund. “I’m always proud to represent Maryland abroad.”