Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017

Tom Carney

Thomas Carney


University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

Hometown: Voorhees, NJ

Undergraduate School and Major: Johns Hopkins University Peabody Conservatory of Music – Bachelor of Music and The Manhattan School of Music – Master of Music.

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Over the past ten years, I’ve been a violinist in numerous On and Off Broadway pit orchestras. Some of my most recent highlights include: Doctor Zhivago and The Last Five Years. In addition to Broadway, I’ve recorded on Hollywood film soundtracks for such films as Noah, True Grit and The Departed and I’ve recently performed on screen in the recent remake of Annie and Winter’s Tale.

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? As a student of the violin, I’ve had the privilege of engaging in direct mentorship with esteemed practitioners of my craft, including the concertmasters at the time of the New York Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras. A consistency that I found in my mentors was a mastery of the basics and an ability to use time efficiently in the practice room.

I would encourage test takers to emphasize these same tenets. In the same way that the practicing of scales and etudes enables musicians to navigate the technical demands of repertoire, I feel that a solid technical foundation of the quantitative and verbal concepts that are evaluated in the test can empower applicants to assume the path of least resistance in tackling problems. Additionally, I would recommend emphasizing the quality of your study time versus quantity. Aim to not let a moment go by where you’re not giving it your very best, diagnosing and addressing problem areas strategically with a clear big picture view of what you want to achieve in your sessions.

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? I’d advocate for applicants to commit to defining what they’re looking for in a business school, listing these criteria in order of importance, and researching programs that convey the best fit.

Assess not only what you can offer a program, but also what a program can offer you. I found school information sessions, campus visits, and networking with alumni, faculty and current students to be extremely helpful in determining where I’d like to apply. 

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 would say that you should have a firm grasp of who you really are and BE YOURSELF. I found the business school application process to be very introspective. I’ve always been encouraged to perform with integrity and identity. Likewise, I made it the goal of my applications to convey who I was as a person and professional in an organic, sincere, and memorable way. In selecting recommenders, I’d advise approaching people who have managed you, can attest to your merits as a professional and person, and will be supportive and well-vested in the success of your application.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? An on-campus visit to Ross cemented my passionate desire to attend the school.

I’ll never forget how a first-year literally donated several hours out of his day to acquaint me with Ross and to introduce me to his fellow classmates. I witnessed a shared enthusiasm and passion amongst the student body for the school and its offerings ranging from the quality of experiential learning opportunities available such as MAP and the Leadership Crisis Challenge to Ross’ robust and accessible alumni network.

While sitting in on a strategic marketing class, I observed an eclectic and intelligent exchange of ideas and opinions from a diverse student body. I found the lessons that were conveyed in class to be enriched by this discussion and I could see myself adding to the conversation.

I left Ross that day with a conviction that the school epitomizes genuine care and collaboration, the celebration of diversity and striving for impact, all ungirded by a diligent pursuit of excellence.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? It would be a privilege to engage in leadership roles of student organizations and to pioneer new initiatives on behalf of the school. I’d like to leverage my experience in the performing arts and what I will learn at Ross to creating impactful and lasting contributions to the program and beyond. I’m currently exchanging ideas with one of the school’s professors about representing the Ross brand by spearheading music therapy initiatives in the area.

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