Justin Lee, ’15 (BUS)

Justin Lee

Senior Associate, Palladin Consumer Retail Partners

WerthWatching is an extension of Justin’s vision as a Business student at UConn. In 2014, Justin founded the UConn Consulting Group (UCG), a strategy consulting group bringing together top students with alumni who attended elite business schools and consulting firms. UCG was founded on the belief that given the resources and training, UConn students can compete and land jobs at top companies around the world.

Justin Lee is doing things WerthWatching:

  • Implemented “Strategic Consulting” minor as part of undergraduate curriculum
  • Expertise in consumer-focused buyouts and growth equity investing
  • Leading Werth Institute’s efforts to help students on non- traditional career paths

Why did you choose to work for your employer and how has the experience been?

When I was leaving investment banking, I knew I wanted to go into private equity. PE was attractive to me because you are the principle on the transaction and are truly partnering with the founders or management teams. This alignment of interests and ability to have a true impact on companies sounded exciting. Palladin had a long-standing track record of investing in consumer businesses while operating with a lean team which meant I’d be getting a lot of experience in a sector that has been experiencing dramatic changes.

How did UConn prepare you for the field you are in today?

UConn gave me a good general business background that has been built upon through work experience. While academics are important, UConn also provided a great social setting whether it be on-campus, sporting or other events. Many people believe that a 4.0 GPA will result in an “easy” job search but interviewers are increasingly looking for people they like and can work long hours with.

What’s your favorite UConn memory?

I look back on my UConn experience very favorably so it’s hard to narrow it down to one. Two immediately come to mind:

  • 2014 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships
  • Delivering the final presentation for our first project as the UConn Consulting Group; this really solidified the legitimacy of something that I spent a lot of time pursuing

What advice do you have for today’s students or aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be proactive. Nobody is going to hand you the job you want just because you have a good GPA and went to UConn. You need to do more – join clubs, network and utilize the resources around you.

What’s next for you?

While I can’t speak in specifics, my company is at a pretty pivotal time in its lifecycle and there are a few large initiatives that should come to fruition over the next 6-12 months. I’m also excited to be working with the Werth Institute to enhance outcomes for students interested in non-traditional career paths. As someone who had to jump through a lot of hoops, I’m hoping we can make it a bit easier for the next generation of UConn students.

Do you have any personal or professional goals you’d like to reach?

I don’t set specific goals such as obtain “X” job title or anything like that – at least not anymore. I like to stay flexible and setting goals sometimes inhibits your ability to think outside the box and be creative. Goal setting works in moderation. To answer the question - I want to gain more experience in my current field and see where it takes me.

What’s your favorite podcast at the moment?

Given the shift to work-from-home over the last year, I have unfortunately significantly cut down on my podcasts. My favorites to listen to on my commute were The Joe Rogan Experience, Stuff You Should Know and How I Built This.