University News

A Warhawk in Silicon Valley

February 14, 2024

Written by Chris Lindeke | Photo submitted

John Buckley.

After 16 years working as an accountant and Partner at Ernst & Young and another 25 years working with the best and brightest in Silicon Valley, John Buckley is true to his roots as a native of Menomonee Falls and a 1982 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Still a diehard fan of the Green Bay Packers despite living 30 minutes outside of San Francisco, home of the rival 49ers, Buckley also remains true to the university where he earned his BBA in accounting.

“I can’t think of a better preparation for me to start my career in public accounting,” Buckley said. “I transferred after three years when we opened a technology practice in Palo Alto and ended up running the life science practice in the Pacific Northwest. All of that was building blocks, foundationally, from UW-Whitewater.”

Buckley is currently serving his second stint as a member of the UW-Whitewater Foundation Board, having been a part of the board from 2002-08 before rejoining in 2022. He is part of the board’s Financial Modeling Task Force for long-range planning and the Audit and Finance Committee.

Last March, Buckley welcomed the Warhawk men’s and women’s tennis teams to California, where the teams practiced and competed against other NCAA Division III teams as part of their annual spring break trip. He hosted the team at his club near his residence in Palm Springs, California, and arranged team hikes and meals outside of practice and competition.

Buckley has provided financial support for the tennis programs on numerous occasions over the last 25 years, is a mentor to Warhawk student-athletes, and is a resource for multiple UW-Whitewater students.

“We had the most memorable spring trip we’ve ever had,” said Frank Barnes, head coach for the men’s and women’s tennis programs. “Numerous times, Mr. Buckley has graciously and proudly stepped up to support the program and Warhawk Athletics.”

Tennis was an important part of Buckley’s student experience. A member of the UW-Whitewater men’s team from 1978-82, Buckley paired with Jim Woyahn at No. 1 doubles during his final year with the program for 25 wins, fifth-most at the top doubles position in one season in program history. They also co-captained the school’s first conference championship and qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament in doubles in 1982. Buckley was also a conference champion at No. 2 singles in 1982.

“I looked at my tennis team as my fraternity,” Buckley said. “It’s a core group of nine or 10 guys. You do everything together – you train together, you travel together. I’m happy to say, I still keep in touch with at least a half dozen of the players I played with in college.”

Buckley just as fondly recalls his experience in the College of Business and Economics. He was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting and finance organization, and Pi Sigma Epsilon, a fraternity for men and women in sales, marketing, and management.

Buckley called out former faculty members Jim Fischer, Bill Rafferty and Arno Kleimenhagen for their positive influence on his collegiate career.

Following graduation, Buckley joined Arthur Young & Co., which became Ernst & Young in 1989 following a merger with Ernst & Whinney. He worked as an auditor in Milwaukee for three years before moving to California after the company opened a technology practice in Palo Alto, where he became director of the firm’s life science practice in the Pacific Northwest.

“I think at least a third of the 22 kids in my starting class at Arthur Young were from UW-Whitewater,” Buckley said. “UW-Whitewater then, and I think still now, is a feeder for that industry in a big, big way.”

After 16 years in public accounting, including more than a decade working exclusively with Silicon Valley startups as his clients, Buckley pursued another passion – entrepreneurship.

He was integrally involved as Chief Financial Officer in the internal building of several venture-backed medical technology companies, two of which were acquired in larger strategic transactions. One of his startups in which he was a co-founder, Imperative Care, Inc., is currently a leading stroke therapy company that has developed devices that can rapidly remove blood clots from the brains of stroke patients, sometimes in as little as 10 minutes.

“Ultimately after 16 years, I decided that I wanted to do this myself – I wanted to be on the other side of it,” Buckley said. “I really enjoy the entrepreneurial aspect of building companies.”

Buckley is now retired but is still an active advisor to Imperative Care. He also sits on the boards of two other medical device companies and works as a consultant and advisor for several entrepreneurial CEOs in addition to serving the UW-Whitewater Foundation Board.

He recognizes the importance of the College of Business and Economics in his formative years as a professional.

“Foundationally, it all started back there,” Buckley said.