Meet the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2020

Jane Roberts

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Empathetic problem-solver with a desire to build strong teams and cultures. Nutella enthusiast.”

Hometown: Arlington, VA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m currently cycling from Seattle to Lake Michigan on a supported bike tour with a group of 35.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Wisconsin – Madison, double major in Geography and Communication Arts

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:
Advisory Board Company (acquired by Optum), Washington, D.C.
Associate Director – Strategic Marketing

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Adopting a high-growth and flexible mentality early in my career allowed me to take on a wide variety of projects and responsibilities that in turn gave me true insight into the inner workings of the company.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The quality I notice amongst my new classmates is a genuine openness to new experience. It is energizing to have conversations with peers who are approaching the significant challenges ahead with such enthusiasm.

Aside from your classmates, 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? Ross’ dedication to giving students the opportunity to apply course material to benefit real organizations. MAP is the most obvious example, but the more recent partnership with Shinola is evidence of a continued emphasis on hands-on learning. This is a key factor for me because I want to enter my internship and full-time position with confidence in my ability to apply models and systems learned in class.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Well, personally I’m really looking forward to traveling with classmates on my upcoming MTrek to Chile and Argentina after orientation, as well as joining Out For Business. OFB has a strong presence on campus and cultivates a welcoming environment.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? It was reflecting on my long-term goals that led me to pursue an MBA – I very much enjoyed working with my team but ultimately felt that marketing wasn’t going to be a long-term fit for me despite the tremendous growth I experienced. An MBA affords me a chance to pivot functions without starting from scratch career-wise.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? A lot of research goes into making this decision. For me, it was imperative to see exceptional employment numbers amongst graduates, and in particular seeing MBA graduates working in jobs and for companies that I am most interested in.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg, Tuck, Fuqua, Anderson, McCombs

How did you determine your fit at various schools? The first factor I prioritized was culture. As a former D1 athlete, I know that I thrive in a collaborative, team-based environment. The second factor I mentioned previously, the opportunity for students to turn theory into practice. And lastly, I was looking for programs with strong general management offerings.

Speaking with current students was the most enlightening, particularly reaching out to those that were alumni of my company. LinkedIn was most useful tool in this endeavour as our company didn’t have infrastructure in place for this type of networking. It’s a great baseline for understanding a student’s perspective on school culture if you have the same starting point (though I imagine this heuristic breaks down for the largest companies).

If I could do it again, the only thing I would change in my approach is visiting programs in advance of applying. It wasn’t feasible at the time given my schedule, but I found while attending interviews that there were some schools where my expectation didn’t align with reality. Given the amount of time that goes into each application, I definitely think the trade-off for stepping foot on campus in advance of starting an application is worth it!

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Earning the chance to be recruited by the UW Women’s Rowing program. While on the team, I gave little thought to how being surrounded by a group of exceptionally strong, goal-oriented, and industrious women would change my life. It wasn’t until after graduating and moving into the workforce that I came to realize that the experience granted me many lessons, especially in mental fortitude and the navigation of challenges as a team.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Put my all of my hard-earned MBA skill sets to work in an intellectually stimulating and challenging role that allows me to grow my expertise in general management.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In 2023, I will be three years into my post-MBA career. I see myself continuing to apply my high-growth and flexible mentality to achieve new leadership opportunities as well as helping shape an inclusive culture within my future-company.