Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class Of 2021

Patricio Zirion Rivera

Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

 “Mexican born and raised, with a passion for food, drinks, music, and sports. Tequila to bourbon, J Balvin to Frank Sinatra, Tacos al Pastor to Buffalo Wings, Fútbol to Football.”

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Fun Fact About Yourself: I lived in Boca Raton, Florida, for three years. During that time, I went to the same school as Jozy Altidore (U.S. Men’s Soccer team) and Andy Roddick. I once participated in a charity event with Andy Roddick, where people would try to return his famous +140mph serve. I miraculously was able to make contact with my racket!

Undergraduate School and Major: Industrial Engineering, Universidad Anahuac, Mexico

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Regional Brand Manager, Uber

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2016, as part of the Operations Team at Uber, I led a team of super-talented individuals in launching three new cities in Mexico: Toluca, Cuernavaca, and Hermosillo. It is not often you have the power and responsibility to change the way people move in a city. The feeling of pride I felt after arriving a couple of weeks before launch, hustling, setting everything up, and then “turning on” Uber in the city is unlike any other I’ve had in my career.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Down-to-earth and humble. When I traveled to Ann Arbor for Go Blue Rendezvous (Ross’ admitted student weekend), I didn’t know what to expect. It may sound cliché, but on the first bus ride from the hotel to the school I met some classmates that have already turned into friends and school hasn’t even started yet! I found that almost everybody was easy to talk to, humble, and super chill. At the end of the day, I knew that I was going to spend two years with my classmates, and wanted to develop relationships and friendships with super talented, interesting, and unique people.

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? The feeling of community with alumni and the admissions team. The alumni community was very helpful in the entire admissions process. Some alumni from Mexico reached out before my interview, and they were more than happy to do a couple of mock interviews with me. Also, I felt like Ross – and the entire admissions team – made me feel like more than a number. I felt valued, respected, and appreciated. In every conversation, I had I truly felt taken care of. It was not only me: the admissions team even called my wife on the day I was admitted! That made a huge impression on both my wife and me.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The Leadership Crisis Challenge. No matter how many cases you read in a classroom, nothing compares to what high-level CEOs and world leaders face during a real crisis. The Crisis Challenge is a pressure cooker simulation where MBA students are tasked with dealing with a high pressure, highly-publicized crisis for 48 hours. With twists-and-turns, news conferences, media reports, and a roundtable with the company’s “board members,” I believe this is as close to a real-life crisis as you can get.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? What will you do if you are not accepted into an MBA program?

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I felt I was ready professionally and personally to not only learn but to contribute. More and more, the MBA experience is about learning from others and learning through real “hands-on” experience. After eight years working, I was comfortable with my experience and knew that in a classroom I would not only be a passive listener, I would challenge, help, and contribute to the class.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Texas McCombs, Cornell Johnson, Northwestern Kellogg

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I’ll make a quick plug and shout-out Soojin Kwon (Managing Director Admissions Ross School of Business), by saying that I relied heavily on her YouTube video “How to Compare Business Schools”. It really is simple, but it saves you a lot of time and self-doubt to see and remember everything you value and want to prioritize.

For me, it started with culture. As I mentioned before, the feeling of community I felt from the entire admissions team, as well as alumni, really influenced my decision. I was always looking for a school where I felt like more than a number and looking for a place to make long-lasting relationships.

Second of all, I focused on the class size; I knew I didn’t want a 900+ person class where I was going to feel lost, but also didn’t want a 200 or less class where I would miss out on so many diverse and talented individuals.

Finally, I also wanted more opportunities to “learn by doing”, rather than just learning from books and in a classroom. I mentioned The Leadership Crisis Challenge before, but having a MAP project in our second semester before the summer internship is just another example of countless opportunities to learn by doing in the Ross MBA program.

Some bonus factors that led me to choose Ross: a) Going to the biggest football stadium in America (Take that Penn State) and b) A young, energetic and dynamic leader in Dean Scott DeRue.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My dad’s work forced my family to move quite a bit when I was younger. From 1994 to 2004, we moved five times. All that moving really shaped who I am today. First of all, arriving to so many new places forced me to become more open and quick to make new friends. Today, I always try to be open, friendly and seek new friendships with new people I meet.

Also, experiencing the nuances and cultures of so many different cities gave me a hunger for travel and culture. I started reading more at that time and became a bit of a history buff. As I’ve grown older, I appreciate people’s culture, history, and past and love to have conversations with people from all walks of life about any weird or random topic.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Working in the front office of a professional sports team. With my family, hopefully, some kids, a Labrador-retriever and a Minivan (wish it would be a Jeep though). Maybe coach a soccer team and learn a new language.

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