2016 Best MBAs: Lily Hamburger, University of Michigan

Lily Hamburger

Lily Hamburger


University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“Ross just wouldn’t be Ross without Lily. She has been a champion for groups of students and has rallied to get new programs to make the student experience even better. She is passionate about social impact, positive business, and diversity, and it shows in her commitment and enthusiasm.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD

Education: Middlebury College, BA in Environmental Studies (History focus)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Volunteer Coordinator and Human Resources Developer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? I did two: General Motors and MBAs Across America

Where will you be working after graduation? TBD

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Frank Moran Distinguished Leadership Award (2016, Student elected)

– Leadership roles: VP of Special Projects for Detroit Revitalization and Business Club; VP of Alumni Relations for Net Impact at Ross; Liaison for Ross Chapter of Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM); +Lab Fellow, Ross Leaders Academy Fellow, elected president of Section 6

– Community work: Detroit Impact project at Henry Ford Learning Academy; convened conversations at Ross administration level to optimize Ross-Detroit relationship and build a more strategic approach to community engagement; volunteered to support emerging small businesses and women entrepreneurs outside of any club or class; part of a team implementing MBAs Across America as a Ross program going forward to create pathways for more students to engage with social enterprises; RLA project supports a youth owned and operated radio station getting off the ground in Detroit; supported SGA leaders in putting on Ross’s first Diversity Week celebrating our multicultural community; organized a summit of alumni in impact careers from around the country to guide current students exploring that path at Ross.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the impact careers summit I organized via Net Impact this fall. I know first-hand how difficult it is to navigate a non-traditional career path in business school and I wanted others to see the great opportunities in the impact space via alumni who are out there doing impressive work. I managed the project from start-to- finish, and it was a great moment for the Ross impact community to come together and realize the momentum it had, in spite of lacking the same institutional support that traditional careers necessarily have.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Thus far, I am most proud of the year I spent working for ARCH in India. I was alone in a completely foreign place and I built relationships that not only helped my project succeed, but helped me thrive in that place personally. Across many cultural, language, and lifestyle differences, I was able to truly connect with people in my small town and surrounding villages in a genuine way that affected all of us deeply. I will never see the world the same way because of those relationships.

Who is your favorite professor? This is a hard choice. I am going to say Venky Nagar because he has taught me to think holistically about business problems. He has also opened my eyes to a lot of thought leadership on a variety of business topics. I appreciate that his courses are simultaneously philosophical and practical.

Favorite MBA Courses? Surprisingly to me, some of my favorite courses have been in accounting. I liked ACC 564 with Dr. Dave and ACC 650 with Venky. I also really appreciated Intrapreneurship with Professors White and Davis, Supply Chain Management with Damian Beil, and Services Marketing with John Branch.

Why did you choose this business school? I only looked at schools that I thought were walking the walk in terms of opportunities to explore and learn about the intersection of business and social change. There are a handful of schools that do that, but I chose Ross because of the people here. As one prospective student recently put it, “Ross is a place where you can get a world class MBA and be a human being at the same time.” The thing I cherish most here is my classmates.

What did you enjoy most about business school? As someone with a non-business background, I learned a ton every day, which was thrilling and valuable. The thing I enjoyed most, though, was meeting some of the smartest, brightest, most passionate and inspiring people I’ll ever meet — my classmates. I hope some of them will remain colleagues and friends for life.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? Everything is always changing and we each have the power to change the game — to really think about the future we want to see and to shape our teams, organizations, products, and outcomes for the better.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Be yourself, and come ready to engage. Ross is a place where you can be a human being and get a world class education at the same time, and, as in life, you get out what you put in.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw a job posting for a community engagement roll with a small consulting firm and realized the impact I could potentially have in the private sector with my passions, experiences, and expertise….but I needed more to get there.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…not as well informed or equipped to engage multiple sectors on solving the problems of our generation, and also not connected to the amazing Ross network.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? I admire many people for different reasons. I appreciate people who are taking a stand on something and changing the status quo to benefit us all, like Mark Benioff (Salesforce) encouraging corporate philanthropy in the Bay Area or Sebastian Jackson (Social Club Grooming) encouraging real dialogue in communities starting like Detroit.

What are your long-term professional goals? To connect multiple sectors on solving our world’s biggest challenges.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I owe a big thanks to my husband, John. He has given me countless rides to school, taken up cooking and made me many meals, and been extremely patient, forgiving and understanding through an intense experience. I owe a lot of my success at Ross to having someone fully support me like that.

Fun fact about yourself: I sing and play trumpet in our school’s rock band, Risky Business

Favorite book: The BFG

Favorite movie: The Fall

Favorite musical performer: Do I have to pick?! Ladysmith Black Mambazo never fails to move me

Favorite television show: TV? What’s that?

Favorite vacation spot: Since moving to Michigan, it’s gotta be somewhere warm. I like to see new places, so I can’t choose one.

Hobbies? I perform with Ross’ own rock band, Risky Business. This is by far my most fun activity in business school.

What made Lily such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Ross just wouldn’t be Ross without Lily. She has been a champion for groups of students and has rallied to get new programs to make the student experience even better. She is passionate about social impact, positive business, and diversity, and it shows in her commitment and enthusiasm. As a leader, she channels her energy into areas where she can make a meaningful impact. This year, she led efforts to create a specific conference on impact careers. She has been a unifying force across many groups of students, and she makes an incredible effort to be inclusive. She takes time to understand someone else’s point of view, and she has deep empathy for others’ experiences.” — Heather Byrne, Managing Director, Full-Time MBA Program, University of Michigan, Ross School of Business


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