Meet the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2019

Kashay Sanders  

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Boundlessly curious organizational design nerd committed to transforming companies by cultivating exceptional, inspired talent.

Hometown: Bronx, New York

Fun Fact About Yourself:  On my first day of high school, I was intent on taking French and was baffled when I saw Japanese on my schedule. After sitting in one Japanese class, however, I became intrigued. I ended up sticking with the language for seven years and spending a summer in Tokyo in college.

Undergraduate School and Major: Dartmouth College, Women’s & Gender Studies

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

IDEX Fellowship in Social Enterprise, Fellow

VOICE 4 Girls, Program Development Manager

Center for Economic Opportunity, NYC Urban Fellow

NYC Parks & Recreation Department, Services Coordinator for Workforce Development Initiatives

Community Solutions, Learning & Facilitation Adviser

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment was holding a leadership role at VOICE 4 Girls, a girls’ empowerment social enterprise in Hyderabad, India, during its very early stages of development. As head of content, I led a team in the start-to-finish creation of a curriculum for our flagship program, a summer camp for low-income girls. The camp has a dual mission: providing girls exposure to life skills and improving their English-speaking abilities. While more than 3,000 adolescent girls experienced our curriculum in the summer of 2013, the organization now has a reach of over 30,000 girls.

The opportunity to work globally, lead a diverse team, and tangibly witness the impact of our content gave me a professional confidence that continues to serve me to this day. The experience instilled in me a willingness to raise my hand to tackle complex challenges at subsequent places of work. It also moved me to be proactive and find ways for my skills to add unique value to an organization.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Don’t be afraid to activate the far corners of your network to help you excel at the business school application process. I reached out to a college friend I lost touch with, who was attending a school I applied to. She ended up being instrumental in taking my essays to the next level and the process allowed us to reconnect. Another person I knew from a fellowship I completed several years ago gave my resume a total makeover. I found that people are so willing to extend their help and insights when asked.

In short—don’t shy away from reaching out to your college roommate’s cousin’s sister you met twice if they are at one of your dream schools. You would be surprised at how excited people are to engage prospective students!

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? In my professional life, I consistently made the following observation: many organizations are so fixed on achieving their aim, that they forget what makes it possible to attain success— their people. I realized that a lack of emphasis on talent development and culture could stifle an organization’s impact. In my most recent place of work, I tapped into a passion for designing solutions around this exact challenge.

Thus, when applying to business school, I knew I wanted to go to a place where I could learn about creative human capital strategies and organizational design. The Ross School of Business stood out as a leader in this realm. It was one of a few schools with an active, thriving human capital club. It also houses the Center for Positive Organizations, Ross’ academic hub for promoting and researching positive business practices. The student and career services-led support for building a career in human capital also impressed me. I felt that at Ross, I could truly geek out about effective people management and better equip myself to serve companies in growing their people.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Although interest in human capital is on the rise amongst MBAs, an understanding of the impact of strategic HR is still not widespread. Therefore, success to me means I am creating spaces, formal and informal, where I can engage my peers in understanding the power of strategic HR, why MBAs choose that path and the gains that result from leaders who leverage the function effectively.

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