Meet the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2020

Georgia Cassady

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Hey ya’ll! I’m Georgia from Alabama, welcoming winter coat suggestions.”

Hometown: Enterprise, Alabama

Fun Fact About Yourself: In the middle of Main Street in my hometown of Enterprise, Alabama, stands the world’s first monument built to honor a bug—an agricultural pest called the boll weevil.

Undergraduate School and Major: Wake Forest University, Communication Major, minors in Journalism and Entrepreneurship

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:

Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Washington, D.C.

Manager of Media & Strategic Partnerships

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I went in to my 2016 year-end review armed with facts, figures, and a well-planned speech. I confidently asked for a promotion, sure I would get it. And then I didn’t. My CEO said he wasn’t sure I could lead, and I needed to speak up. I took that feedback and ran with it. I asked for more responsibility and was impeccably prepared and well-spoken in meetings with my CEO. I adapted my communication style to display authority and confidence. In June, I got that promotion. I’d say this is my biggest accomplishment in my career so far because I learned the value of constructive feedback and, more importantly, earned the respect of my CEO.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? From my group interview at Ross to today, every classmate I’ve met has been a truly authentic person. I immediately felt like I was with friends on my interview day. Every conversation with future Ross classmates, even before I made my decision on which school to attend, has been open, honest and genuinely helpful. These authentic conversations and experiences with my future classmates are what made me ultimately choose Ross.

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? I’ve only had one full-time job since college, and it was fairly non-traditional. A key factor that led me to choose Ross was the amount of hands-on, experiential learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Specifically, Ross’s MAP (Multidisciplinary Action Projects) program sealed the deal for me. At the end of my first year, I’ll work for seven weeks on an actual business problem for a real organization—not a hypothetical case. Having this extra work experience will give me the skills and extra boost of confidence I need going in to my summer internship and post-MBA job.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m really looking forward to the Ross Business + Impact Challenge! It will be an amazing opportunity to work with a team to solve a social challenge, which is exactly what I hope to do post-MBA.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I minored in entrepreneurship in college and always thought I’d go back to school for an MBA, but I didn’t really know when or why. After college, I knew I wanted an impactful job and ended up working in PR at a nonprofit. Through my job, I saw first-hand the impact large companies can have when they use their financial resources to improve and save lives. I loved my job and wanted to do more. I want to work in a large corporation developing and implementing impactful social campaigns. I know that in order to make that move from the non-profit side to the corporate side, there are some fundamental business skills that I need to learn. So now was the time to make the jump!

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I strongly believe the best investment you can make is in your education. I wanted to switch careers and knew I had a huge knowledge gap. The best way to fill that gap was to get my MBA. I never questioned whether it was worth the investment—I always knew it was.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB, Berkeley-Haas, Kellogg, Yale SOM, Duke-Fuqua, Darden, Texas-McCombs, UNC Kenan-Flagler.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized location and size of the city, class size, opportunities for social impact beyond the Net Impact club, and experiential learning. One thing I paid a lot of attention to was the other applicants interviewing with me. I knew these could be my future classmates and wanted to make sure I went somewhere I really connected with the other applicants.

What tools did you use to evaluate schools? I was a Forte MBALauncher, so I got exposure to current female students at several MBA programs through that organization. Fellow MBALaunchers were great resources, as well as MBAMission Insider’s Guides and Poets & Quants school profiles. I, of course, went to lots of MBA fairs and meet and greets in D.C. (where I was living until now).

How did you research culture? How did you know it fit your career goals? I researched culture through informational calls with current students involved in the clubs and organizations I wanted to be involved in during my MBA, like Board Fellows and the Net Impact club. I asked about their experiences at school to see if they aligned with everything I’d learned through my research. I asked if anything at the school didn’t meet their expectations, what the class experience was like, and what they would change about the program (if they could). By talking to students at each school with similar career goals as me, I learned whether my goals could be achieved through experiences and support offered at that school.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? The moment that most defines my life happened my freshman year of college. It was Christmas break, and my mom had just been diagnosed with a stage 4 ovarian cyst. We were sitting in church on Sunday morning, and an extremely sad song started to play about a child whose mother was dying. All the child wanted for Christmas was to make sure her mother looked beautiful when she went to meet Jesus that night. My mom is my best friend in the entire world. Hearing this song, I lost it. And then my mom lost it. We sat in church sobbing. I’m an ugly crier, and at some point, my mom looked over and saw how ridiculous I looked. Her tears turned into uncontrollable, contagious laughter. I started laughing, and that was the moment I think I became an adult. That moment taught me that the only way to get through trials, no matter how sad, scary or overwhelming, is with a positive attitude and sense of humor. Thankfully, my mom’s cyst was benign, and she’s as healthy as ever! Now, we constantly remind each other the importance of facing life’s challenges with a positive outlook, and I know there’s nothing I can’t overcome.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? After I graduate, I’d love to work in marketing at a large, for-profit company with a strong focus on social impact. Making a difference in my career is extremely important to me, so my focus will be more on the company culture than the job function.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself living in a mid-sized (preferably warm) city, leveraging my marketing and social impact experiences into a corporate social responsibility role at a social-driven company. As corporate social responsibility becomes more of an essential business function than a public relations play, I want to be a leader in helping social-driven companies be even more active in implementing creative, effective and relevant corporate social responsibility programs.

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