Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017

Yuanchao Xie

Yuanchao Xie


University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

Hometown: Shanghai, China

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Science in Electronic Information Engineering, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: 

McDonald’s Corporation 

2013 to 2015: National Compensation and Benefits Manager, China Headquarters

ITT Corporation 

2011 to 2012: Shared Service HR Manager, China Headquarters

2009 to 2011: HR Executive / Senior HR Executive, China and India Headquarters 

Honeywell International 

2008 to 2009: HR Business Partner, Honeywell China R&D Center

2007 to 2008: Recruiting Specialist, Honeywell Aerospace Asia-Pac

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? My single piece of advice is don’t be intimidated by the GMAT. I remember I had a lot of anxiety when I found there are so many must-have test preps, such as the official guide and Manhattan. I had little time and had to work. The application deadline was approaching. I only covered the verbal part of the official guide and I decided to take the test. It was 680, not too bad. Later I took another two tests, scoring 710 and 740.  Through these real battles, I learned how to adjust my pace and acquainted myself with real problems that the GMAT uses nowadays (quite different from the outdated problems in the official guide). Most importantly, I didn’t feel any nervousness about the test, which helps me to focus and get a better score each time. Anyone can take as many as five tests in a year! Capitalize on it! Now GMAT even allows us to peek at the score first and cancel it if we want.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? An easy way to get school information is to look up the rankings. I know many international students strictly refer to ‘M7’, ‘S16’, and top 20 or 30 MBA rankings when they make their school list. However, rankings aren’t everything.

In my experience, I strongly recommend that MBA applicants visit campus and see if the schools really fit for you.

I visited the U.S. twice for campus tours. I visited USC Marshall, Rice Jones, UT Austin McCombs, UNC Kenan-Flagler, Duke Fuqua, UMICH Ross, Dartmouth Tuck, and Cornell Johnson. After I sat in on classes, interacted with current students and admission officers, and walked around school buildings and libraries, I could clearly figure out which schools I like and which I didn’t. Campus visits made my target school selection fairly easy. You have to see it to believe it.  Other than that, I also encourage prospective students to talk with current students and alumni, and attend coffee chats or information sessions in your city. Grasp every chance to talk with these people. They provide insider information and even a moment of truth that you may never get through the school website. 

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? I think the biggest challenge is not GMAT or TOEFL, but writing a good essay. It is a process of self-reflection. I took months to think about my motivations, future career passions, my strengths and weaknesses, and leadership style. Before I began to write essays, I had already drafted my top three professional achievements, two personal stories, and a brief autobiography since childhood. However, I still met plenty of difficulties. Writing smoothly and succinctly in a second language is a big obstacle, let alone a crisp essay to wake up readers. My Ross essay involved more than ten versions. Revising essays is the most time-consuming job. I have received a lot of help from my mentor and friends, but I only take some of their suggestions. I think it is very important to keep my essay true to myself.

Other than that, keeping in touch with the admission officers is very important. I think it is a good idea to let them know me even before the admission interview. I met AOs through information sessions and school visits, and we kept in contact with emails. I think presenting a positive image that is smart, easy-going, and probably funny is crucial to win over AOs. The most important skill for every MBA is communication, so just start by communicating with AOs first. Make them your biggest supporter. Don’t feel timid. Be brave!

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Fact first: I applied to ten schools, got interviews from eight, and luckily received seven offers. Among these offers, I was debating between Cornell Johnson and Michigan Ross. They are both very elite schools and I could not make a decision at the time. I consulted some current and former MBAs. They suggested for me to consider employment prospects at each school. After all, we have to land jobs to pay back MBA loans. At first, I leaned towards Johnson because it offers a dual-degree program, allowing me to complete an MBA and a master in HR in two-and-a-half years. It is the most prestigious education for HR professionals, holds great reputations globally, and is highly pursued by big name employers. I even wrote a reject letter to Ross, but it never went out my draft box. I couldn’t bear to turn down my dream school.

It only takes a powerful competitor such as Johnson to reconfirm my dedication to Ross. It is always the simple reason – ‘fit’ – that differentiates Ross from others. I love Rossers. They are humble, smart, and always willing to help. They are all very responsive and friendly to prospective students. I contacted four Ross students for mock interviews. All of them accepted my invitation instantly and later threw me a full-length interview when they had to work 100 hours weekly. In addition to that, I enjoyed very much the application process. Interacting with Ross AOs and faculty, I can feel that they really care about applicants, always attentive and thoughtful. Once during a chat, I told a Ross AO that the deposit deadline for another school is approaching, which is obviously a tiny trivia, but the Ross AO surely remembered it. I got the acceptance letter from Ross several days before the official decision release time so that I can save some money from that deposit. Moreover, I like the state-of-art Ross building and the beautiful city of Ann Arbor. I know I will have great experience here with my loving classmates and professors. It has been a truly fantastic start since I came to school last month for English program and Accounting waiver course. I feel very fortunate that I made the choice. Go Blue!

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? One of the great charms of MBA is that is has so many possibilities, which is only more so at Ross. I know I will get all the resources and network to explore every career interest that I have. Currently I am still in the process of figuring out my career pursuit, which includes management consulting, HR consulting, corporate strategy, and corporate HR. I expect to understand more during the orientation and career action day. Apart from careers, I have more expectations for my experience at Ross. I hope to hone my leadership skills, help others grow, and become more global-minded and culturally-diverse. I feel very proud to be a member of the Ross class of 2017 and I will make my mark here as a great team player and a faithful friend. 

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