Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017

Spencer Heaton

Spencer Heaton


University of Michigan, Ross School of Business 

Hometown: Provo, Utah

Undergraduate School and Major:

Brigham Young University – BS Zoology

University of Michigan Medical School – MD

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

University of Michigan Department of Anesthesiology – Anesthesiology Resident Physician

Johns Hopkins Blaustein Pain Treatment Center – Pain Medicine Fellow

Desert Pain Institute – Pain Medicine Physician

Wasatch Sports, Spine & Pain Treatment Center – Founder / Pain Medicine Physician

Idea Ninjas – Co-founder / Medical Device Developer

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? I scored well on the GMAT as an undergraduate student, but that score was long expired by the time I decided to actually pursue an MBA. As a result, I had the experience and pleasure of taking the GMAT twice – 14 years apart. A practice GMAT with no preparation revealed an interval improvement in all things verbal and a proportionate decline in all things quantitative, with an overall similar score.  Verbal skills improvement wasn’t surprising, given the heavy reliance on verbal comprehension and critical reasoning required to read medical journals and practice evidence-based medicine. Quantitative skills decline was disappointing but also understandable, since medical practice requires intuitive understanding of principles of math in statistics, physics and physiology with very rare actual computational tasks. For those like me with a STEM background but rusty computational skills, I would recommend the Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides for brushing up on the quantitative knowledge and tricks required to quickly and successfully navigate the GMAT questions.

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? My advice for applying to schools would be to aim high, aim for a good fit, and avoid trophy hunting – in other words avoid simply substituting published ranking lists for your own personal list. Take the time to visit the campuses that most interest you. Go on tours.  Attend information sessions. For me, paying attention to the interest among current students in health care industries and the resources invested in health care related opportunities led to significant reshuffling of my list over time. Remember, you are applying to business schools that are adept at branding and marketing.  Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement without investigating the substance behind the claims.

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? Throughout the application process be your best self – don’t pretend to anything you aren’t. At the same time, don’t sell yourself short. Schools are just as interested in what you’ve learned from real world mistakes as they are in what you’ve accomplished with your innate strengths and talents. The nuances of your unique character can be hard to communicate on an application form, which is why the written essay serves as the bridge between the application form and the interview. The tone and topic(s) of your essay should set the stage for your interview conversation. For me this meant a less-than-formal essay tone since I have never been a very formal interviewee.

The interview is your chance to give a positive subjective feel to the objective data presented on the application. Having sat on both sides of the interview table, I can say without hesitation that simply finding a genuine connection will carry more weight than putting on a good formal presentation. The same goes for recommendation letters. Someone who really knows your strengths as well as your weaknesses and is still willing to unequivocally support you is a better choice compared to an influential or successful figure who will only put your resume in narrative form and call it a letter of recommendation.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? In addition to having an exceptionally well-crafted business school, the University of Michigan is home to many other top-tier graduate programs, promoting a perfect setting for interdisciplinary collaboration. The health care concentration within the full-time MBA program at Ross provides opportunities for classes in the school of public policy, school of public health, law school, nursing school and medical school – all without separating the health care concentration MBA students from the rest of the MBA class. Although my experience and interests are primarily centered in medicine – leading to my choosing an MBA program with a proven track record in health care – I also want to be immersed in the full spectrum of education offered from a top-tier business school.  With this in mind, Ross stood out as a perfect fit for me.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate?

Of course some of my goals will be shared by all MBA students – like gaining the education and skills necessary to contribute in meaningful ways in a particular industry.  Additionally, I am approaching my MBA experience looking for answers to some specific questions that have formed over time in my mind relating to opportunities in the realm of medical devices and the overall delivery of medical care.  I don’t expect to fully answer these questions in the short two years ahead, but I intend to be within striking distance.

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