Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2018


Jim Gawron

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Rocket scientist turned environmentalist striving to create a sustainable world through the power of business.

Hometown: Muskegon, MI

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a passion for learning, and I absolutely love the University of Michigan. This combination has made it almost impossible for me to stay away from campus. In fact, I am on track to have a total of four degrees (BSE, Meng, MS, and MBA), and all of them will be from the University of Michigan. I just may never leave!

Undergraduate School and Major:

Master of Engineering (Meng) in Space Engineering, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) in Earth Systems Science and Engineering, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Lead Engineer, GE Aviation (2015 – 2016)

Deputy Lead Systems Engineer, Orbital ATK (2012 – 2015)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was awarded ‘Rising Star’ of my corporation for my role in designing a satellite that secured a $55 million NASA contract. As the Satellite Technical Lead, I was responsible for developing a systems-level design capable of meeting specific mission objectives. This project was particularly challenging because of its aggressive six-month development timeline, but ultimately I achieved a feasible, low-risk solution. After an additional six months of proposal development and presentations, our proposal was selected by NASA for implementation. This was not only a huge contract win, but the shining moment of my career to date.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? My advice is to take the time to define your personal brand and use it as a consistent theme throughout your application. Your brand should combine your unique skills, experiences, and career goals into an overall picture of who you are. The admissions staff will be able to see exactly how you fit into their next class when this brand is continually reinforced in your essays, recommendations, and interviews.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? The list of reasons why I chose the MBA program at the Ross School of Business is quite lengthy.

The first and most important is that the University of Michigan is one of the world leaders in sustainability research and education. It permeates throughout the entire campus, from the course offerings to the actual campus operations and initiatives. The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise is one of the central pillars of the sustainability movement on campus and offers an MBA/MS dual degree program through a partnership between Ross and the School of Natural Resources and Environment. The prospect of attending such an innovative program with a proven record of results put Ross at the top of my list.

The second reason is the strong and diverse alumni network with former graduates working in the exact roles that interest me. I am particularly interested in a career in consulting, and Ross consistently ranks as one of the top schools for that industry.

The final reason is the connection that I have to the University of Michigan from my undergraduate work there. Ann Arbor is the quintessential college town with so many fun and interesting opportunities available. The passion and school spirit on campus is simply unparalleled, and I cannot wait to be a part of it once again!

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? My previous work on NASA science missions has provided me with a unique exposure to the study of climate change and other anthropogenic impacts on the environment. Over the past five years, I have watched with increasing concern as the key indicators of the Earth’s health have continued to worsen. These experiences have instilled in me a deep passion for environmental sustainability and have caused me to dedicate my life toward the active preservation of our planet.

Therefore with these motivations to guide me, I have determined that my dream job is to work for McKinsey & Company as a consultant within their Sustainability & Resource Productivity practice. In this role, I would like to focus on accelerating the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift away from the use of fossil fuels. Some of my specific interest areas are increasing the adoption of renewable energy using advanced financing models, transforming personal mobility by taking advantage of autonomous and electric vehicle technology, and making the operation of large corporations more sustainable through green building practices. I believe McKinsey would provide me with the best platform to reach some of the most influential organizations with these insights, which would not only positively impact our environment, but also the overall long term economic outlook.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I hope that my business school peers look back at our time together at Ross and say that I challenged them to be the best versions of themselves. I hope they are able to recall times when our hard work and collaboration resulted in the achievement of our lofty goals. But most importantly, I hope they see me as a lifelong friend whom they can come to at any time for advice, a second opinion, or to simply catch up.

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