2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: LaTresha Staten, University of Michigan (Ross)

LaTresha (L.C.) Staten

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“A tenacious Detroit native seeking to pivot into technology and build a lasting, entrepreneurial legacy.”

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Fun fact about yourself: As an only child, the piano was one of my first friends and first expressions of creativity. For a long time, I thought that I would grow up and travel the world as a classical concert pianist. As I inched closer to that reality, I realized that I much preferred the natural joy of playing independently, versus doing so in a more disciplined manner. However, I still play and even have an 88-key piano in my apartment bedroom here at Ross!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Boston University, Bachelor of Science in Advertising & Business Marketing

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Verizon, Digital Marketing Account Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Microsoft in Seattle, WA

Where will you be working after graduation? Microsoft, Product Marketing Manager and Breadless, Co-Founder & CMO

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  1. Fellow, The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
  2. President, Black Business Student Association
  3. BBSA President, Ross Presidents’ Advisory Board
  4. VP of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Michigan Business Women
  5. Event Planning Chair, Section Board
  6. VP of Community, Ross BUS Management Team
  7. Venture Capital Fellow, Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund
  8. Fellow, Zell Lurie Institute’s Founders’ Forum
  9. Applebaum Fellow, Dare to Dream
  10. Executive Presence Award, Michigan Crisis Challenge

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of co-founding and launching a restaurant start-up during my MBA. In doing so, I was able to take full advantage of resources that the Zell Lurie Institute presented to entrepreneurs such as “Dare to Dream” and the “Founders’ Forum”. The restaurant start-up is called Breadless and is a premium sandwich shop on a mission to make it easy for people to live a low-carb lifestyle. Instead of using bread, our sandwiches are crafted with fresh and healthy greens such as swiss chard, turnip greens, and collard greens that are easy to hold on-the-go, packed with vitamins, and deliciously constructed. Our vision is to be one of the most well-known quick-service restaurants nationwide.

Since incorporating the company in June of 2019, we have won pitch competitions and brought in nearly $10,000 in sales via pop-ups at select fitness centers in the Detroit/Metro-Detroit area (e.g. LA Fitness, Crunch Fitness, YMCA, FitnessWorks), as well as catering from local businesses (e.g. Bedrock Detroit, TechTown, Co.Act, House of Pure Vin, Allied Media) and student groups at the University of Michigan (Healthcare & Life Sciences Club, Women Who Launch, Tech Club, Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Club, Michigan Marketing Club, and more). In addition to catering in metro-Detroit and on-campus for several Ross student groups, we began a lunch subscription service in February called “The Breadless Challenge” in which 20 people signed up and committed to eating Breadless each weekday for lunch. I am very grateful to the University of Michigan, the Zell Lurie Institute, and my community of Ross classmates and peers that have helped Breadless get started in such a short period of time. We are currently working on opening our first brick-and-mortar location.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Professionally, I am most proud of successfully breaking into “Big Tech” this past summer as a product marketing intern at my dream company. My previous work experience spans traditional advertising and digital media marketing, and I was accustomed to managing brands and driving creative development processes. However, I wanted to dive deeper to better understand what it takes to build, test, and deploy products for consumers from a more technical lens.

After successfully completing my internship at Microsoft as a Product Marketing Manager intern, I truly feel that I blended my strategic, analytical, and creative career interests in this one role. I specifically worked on the M365 Apps Marketing Group for Office and Windows, spanning product deployment, core user experiences, management, new motions, and developer platforms. My specific team focuses on M365 deployment across segments with the primary focus of enterprise adoption for Office 365 ProPlus and Windows 10.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? It is very difficult to choose just one favorite professor at Ross. when I think about which professor brought to life a subject I was very eager to learn about, it is Maxim Sytch. Maxim teaches one of Ross’ core courses: “MO 503 – Leading People and Organizations”. I enjoyed the way he taught this course because he tactfully contextualized how students can develop leadership skills, exhibit sound judgment in making decisions, motivate and influence people without relying on formal authority, and build and manage high-performing teams. We were pushed to operate outside of our comfort zones, think critically, and integrate insights from inside and outside the class, research, and leverage our previous work experiences to practice and apply our newfound leadership skills.

Why did you choose this business school? My career aspirations pre-MBA were to pivot into technology, explore the start-up and venture capital arena, and more actively develop my management and leadership skills. I was able to do each of these things in ways I couldn’t have imagined. At Ross, I knew that I would benefit from the university’s commitment to experience-driven learning in a myriad of ways. As a prospective student, I was determined to join the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund at Ross to better understand the process of investing in start-up businesses from the venture capital perspective. Learning the diligence and analysis behind investment decisions was essential to me understanding how to best position my own business to receive funding in the future.

On MAP, I explored Tel Aviv, Israel, working on a U.S. market entry strategy for a drone technology start-up focusing on the construction industry. As I approached my second year, I began fully engaging with the Zell Lurie Institute after launching our start-up restaurant concept, leveraging the multifaceted and extremely supportive University of Michigan entrepreneurial ecosystem. Finally, as a native Detroiter, I believe in the power of businesses to stimulate the state’s economy. I sought to attend Ross in order to further develop an impactful, Michigan-based business, and this spirited, forward-thinking community has been the best school environment in which to do so.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? The best advice is to truly understand what it is about your career and personal aspirations that Ross can specifically help guide you towards, versus other programs. Leverage current students, admissions fellows, webinars, and alumni. Come visit our campus to research and understand what #TheRossDifference truly is – and if it is right for you. In my experience, MBA programs can distinguish between candidates who are passionate about their school specifically and those who are not.  

What is the biggest myth about your school? One myth that I heard about Ross was that it was a “party school”. It’s not. When I visited Ross – and eventually came to school here – I found that some of the most impressive, hard-working individuals I had ever come across were here. They were able to lead organizations, do well in classes, run conferences, go to football games, and still engage socially with a welcoming, humble spirit.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? There are so many unbelievably awe-inspiring moments that I have experienced in almost two years at Ross. I’ve traveled to Thailand, Israel, Ghana, Colombia, and Whistler, heard my peers speak at Storylab, and made serendipitous deep connections with alumni in various cities. I wish that I would have documented this whirlwind of a journey with journaling, blogging, or audio recording the experiences right after they happened. It is hard to really marinate on these pivotal moments in real-time because so many things in business school require your full attention, whether it is class, recruiting, club involvement, or even for some, launching a company or raising a family. The one thing I would do differently is to build in time to thoughtfully process and marinate on these amazing experiences.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire a great many Rossers, but Vishnu Suresh is someone who comes to mind for many reasons. I see Vishnu as someone who has not only fully embraced the MBA experience but also appreciates the beautiful cultural exchange that can happen in this environment. I admire how involved Vishnu is with creating connections across different affinity groups, bridging the distance between domestic and international peers, and being an overall supportive and intentional ally to all. Vishnu defines what it means to be a global citizen, and I believe that it is important for everyone, especially future business leaders of the world, to possess these qualities.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I was most influenced by my mother. She had always been into higher education, possessing a master’s degree herself and several industry certifications and training. However, she also saw the value and fun in having her own enterprise. People may not know this, but people from Detroit believe in hustle – and this is a positive connotation. She may not know it, but I admired how she was able to have a steady job that she enjoyed for years and also have a side business focusing on something she loved to do which was to create healthy, homemade oils, soaps, and scrubs. Her entrepreneurial spirit motivated me to pursue my own ventures and I started on that path pre-MBA. That said, I realized that I had many gaps in knowledge that business school could help me to fill. Business school could arm me with the tools to dramatically increase my odds for business success. My mother proves to me with her own actions that I do not have to choose one lane. I can integrate two career paths into my life at once, which is what I am working to do now with Microsoft and Breadless.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. To become a director or executive officer on the board of a leading technology firm.
  2. To have several investments and business ventures of my own to create legacy and generational wealth for my family.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want my peers to remember me as a person who works hard, leads with grace, fosters positive energy, and is confident enough to be fully authentic even when that involves taking a stand for what I believe in.

Hobbies? I love to travel, dance, sing karaoke, and cook delicious meals from a range of different cultures (but especially my award-winning turkey chili!).

What made LaTresha such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“It is extremely rare for a student to participate in one of our student-led investment funds AND launch their own business through our startup programs, but it’s an incredibly powerful combination that allows you to view different perspectives from both sides of the table. While serving as a member of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, L.C. and her team invested real dollars in a real startup. She navigated the investment process with determination and dedication. As the founder of Breadless, a premium sandwich shop, L.C. worked tirelessly and with a purpose to launch her business while pursuing her MBA. Her efforts proved fruitful as she secured customers and generated revenue. L.C. is multi-talented and has acquired a unique combination of skills, which makes her an outstanding member of the class of 2020.”

Sarika Gupta
Managing Director, Zell Lurie Institute
Lecturer, Business Administration


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