2017 MBAs To Watch: Laura Florez, University of Michigan (Ross)

Laura Florez

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

Age: 29

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I’m passionate and curious and love to get involved into challenging situations and deep discussions

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia

Fun fact about yourself: I’m closing my MBA experience with a non-traditional focus: ballet and hip-hop classes.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Universidad de los Andes, Bachelor of Science Industrial Engineering, Cum Laude and Master of Science Engineering, Operational Research

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? StratCo, Senior Consultant. Boutique management consulting firm in South America

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? The Boston Consulting Group, Bogota

Where will you be working after graduation?  The Boston Consulting Group, Chicago

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President of Michigan Business Women Club – MBW
  • Teaching Assistant for Applicable Microeconomics and Applicable Business Statistics
  • Ross Leaders Academy Fellow – Sanger Leadership Center
  • Co-leader of Colombian-Trek
  • Dean’s list

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m proud to have been elected Co-President of the Michigan Business Women club (MBW) and of becoming the first international student to have that position. MBW is one of the largest clubs at Ross that promotes women’s personal and professional development. One of my goals before entering into the role was to provide a forum where diverse experiences and perspectives could be shared within a more inclusive community. I am very pleased to have built a collaborative environment on the MBW board and to have made an impact on its member’s commitment to promote diversity.

While leading the club, we organized at least forty events that build a supportive community and addressed relevant issues to women in business. Specifically, MBW hosted workshops with the objective of motivating and empowering women to achieve success and building greater awareness on the need for committed allies to the gender equity cause.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The professional experience that I am most proud of is the project I led to redesign and implement changes in the organizational structure of one of the largest cement companies to allow the senior management to efficiently manage operations in twelve countries while growing through acquisitions. It was an enriching experience because it was my first time as a project manager and I faced several challenges that were determinant to successfully implement the proposed adjustments. These ranged from motivating my team to exceed expectations up to working directly with the client’s CEO and all the leaders of the organization.

This experience taught me that involving the people of an organization when facing an important change is just as important as dealing with the design or the financial implications of a project. But most importantly, it helped me refine my definition of leadership by realizing the importance of understanding that a team’s motivation lies in creating an environment where everyone feels empowered and their creativity is used to solve difficult situations and achieve powerful contributions.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? There are many great professors at Ross, but one of my favorites is Greg Miller. I took two of his classes, Principles of Financial Accounting and Financial Communication and Investor Relations. Greg has an ability to engage the whole class in discussions about what may be a not very popular subject — accounting. He is passionate about teaching and incredibly knowledgeable.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? One of my favorite courses was Managing Professional Relationships with Jane Dutton. Besides the multiple opportunities to reflect on my own experience, this course reinforced my belief of the importance of developing soft skills to produce a greater impact on businesses and people. Moreover, during this course, I developed a personal purpose statement to treat every interaction as an opportunity to develop high-quality connections with people around me.

Why did you choose this business school?  There are millions of reasons why I decided to come to Ross, but there are four in particular that made me choose this great school. First, Ross’ commitment to make a positive impact in the world resonates with my own way I see life. Second, its action-based learning approach allows Rossers to get involved with the community and learn in a more experiential way. Third, the school truly believes in creating a sense of community based on the power of diversity. Lastly, Ross offers outstanding career opportunities, specifically in consulting: the field I wanted to pursue as my professional career path.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The opportunity to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and create a strong network from whom I’ve learned so much and value greatly. Getting out of my comfort zone was not easy. In particular, that’s because I had to overcome my fear of not being able to communicate my ideas in English as effectively as I would normally do in Spanish, my mother tongue. Getting the help of my friends and my network in MBW definitely helped me take this big step, and has allowed me to enjoy learning more about the world from the unique perspective and background of my peers.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The wide range of opportunities to develop myself was my biggest surprise from Ross. Business school provides a great opportunity to learn about industries and careers that I didn’t even know existed. It also offers a great amount of opportunities to be challenged and practice new skills in a safe environment. However, this wide range of options can be overwhelming, so my recommendation would be not to overcommit and make strategic decisions to balance the quality and quantity of your commitments

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your schools MBA program? Visit Ann Arbor and let Ross amaze you. Learning first-hand about Ross is an important step to identify what makes Ross special for you. If you come to Ann Arbor, talk to current and former students, walk around campus to envision your life here at U-M, and start planning which experiences you would want to get involved with.

What is the biggest myth about your school? When I was applying to Ross, I thought that not many companies came to Ann Arbor to hire MBAs. That is a myth! The reality is that once the recruiting season begins, you will see more companies than you ever thought existed (in addition to the most recognized players of every industry holding corporate presentations, coffee chats, office hours, and on-campus interviews). All of the top ten most desirable companies to work for recruit Ross grads on campus.

What was your biggest regret in business school? One of the biggest challenges at business school is to decide how to spend your free time. There are so many clubs, initiatives, and social events, and it becomes very important to choose what to do and what not to do. One of my biggest regrets was not having participated in the Leadership Crisis Challenge. This experience would have really tested my ability to strategize in high-risk and high-pressure environments.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My husband! He is also a Ross MBA student in the Class of 2017. Juan has been involved in the Ross community as co-president of Design+Business club, student ambassador, and admissions interviewer. He has been my role model because of his commitment to pursue what makes him happy and encourage others to do the same.

I knew I wanted to go to business school whenI realized that I wanted to pursue an accelerated path to become a better team leader and a better consultant.”

If I hadnt gone to business school, I would beat my previous consulting job regretting not pursuing my dream to do an MBA.”

 If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Besides reducing tuition costs, I would promote more opportunities to have deeper discussions on controversial topics with other graduate schools at the University of Michigan, where we can learn from other fields such as law or public policy, that play an important role in business.

 What is your ultimate longterm professional goal? My professional goals involve continued learning and strengthening my skill set to help companies make a greater impact and overcome big challenges. I hope that in some years I will continue to be as enthusiastic about what I am doing as I am now as a consultant.

Who would you most want to thank for your success?  Without a doubt, my family.

First, it would be my parents because they have been there to encourage me to think bigger and have been my sponsors in every step I have taken. Second my husband, because he has kept me centered. He has been extremely patient, forgiving, and understanding through an intense experience. I owe a lot of my success at Ross to having someone who has fully supported me like that.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A friend who is willing to make others better and become better because of others.

Favorite book: Digital Fortress, Dan Brown.

Favorite movie or television show: Friends – I can watch it again and again  

Favorite musical performer: I need to name here an amazing Colombian performer- Shakira

Favorite vacation spot: I don’t have one; I prefer to travel to a different location each time.    

Hobbies? Dancing, cooking, and traveling. These hobbies allow me to disconnect from daily routines and connect with myself and others.

What made Laura such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Laura has embraced everything Ross stands for — she pushed herself out of her comfort zone, grew personally and professionally, and has received very high rewards for doing so. She is at the top of her class academically, has accepted an offer from The Boston Consulting Group, and took on leadership roles during her time at Ross. Originally from Colombia, she infused herself within the American culture. She gained respect from her classmates with her sense of curiosity, integrity, and willingness to take on leadership roles. She is one of the co-presidents for Michigan Business Women, where she has worked hard to ensure international female students feel included. Laura co-led the first Columbia-trek, leading more than 25 of her classmates to her home country to explore its cultural, business, and social aspects. I’m most impressed by her ability to excel at a lot of things and to continue exploring new things. This semester she took advantage of the breadth of opportunities U-M provides and took dance classes at the University’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Laura is the kind of person you immediately feel at ease with — she has a genuine presence, is a great listener, and always puts Ross and her classmates first.”

Heather Byrne

Managing Director, Full-Time MBA Program

Ross School of Business, University of Michigan



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