Inside Michigan Ross: A Look At Action-Based Learning

Business + Impact Challenge: Team Yost presenting the solution to the peers

Our MAP project turned out to be different than all others before it. After we kicked off the project in person, we needed to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic requirements quickly. Some teams had to reshape the project scope to work virtually with the employees worldwide from Brazil to China. Although it was discouraging not to travel to various destinations in 2020, we had a great experience delivering concrete recommendations to the MAP sponsors. I even know classmates who interned with their MAP sponsor, continuing to work on their projects as MBA interns to implement their strategies throughout the summer.

My project team was composed of five Ross MBA students each from different countries (Nigeria, USA, Taiwan) with diverse backgrounds from CPG, supply chain, healthcare, and R&D. Our client was Microsoft’s manufacturing division, which was partnering with large manufacturing companies to modernize their technology, operations, and skill sets. Before talking to our client from Microsoft, we spent a week as a team setting the team norms, understanding each other’s expectations and goals, and aligning our responsibilities. At the same time, we have been through sessions where we learned about the resources available throughout MAP; for instance, Ross assigned one librarian to help us with research and one communications consultant for documentations and final presentations to each group. Although, it might feel like we spent a long time on these topics, aligning within the team on everything upfront with clear and written communication helped us to have a healthy working environment.

As team Microsoft, in eight weeks, we worked closely with our MAP sponsor, who was also a University of Michigan alum, and our academic advisor. MAP was my first consulting experience where I experienced two important aspects: client management and interviewing. We were working on a manufacturing transformation strategy in light of the information we collect interviewing the subject matter experts at Microsoft. Our objective was to create a framework for their transformation and a white paper to be published publically. We followed a three step process as MAP team:

MAP Reveal Event with personalized MAP Reveal card

  1. Research: This was the hardest part as we needed to dive into limitless information online and interview the experts.
  2. Digest: We prioritized the information which makes sense for the post-COVID transformation of manufacturers and documented the insights.
  3. Structure: In the second half of the course, we worked on our paper that includes a digestible framework for the transformation strategy.

In the end of MAP, we published this white paper with Microsoft for the manufacturing players to reshape their strategy according to the changing business environment with the pandemic. In our white paper, we provided a framework under three pillars: operations, technology and people. We choose to spare more space to the people’s transformation as it takes longer time than the transformation of technology and operation. Through MAP, I was able to experience Microsoft’s working culture and learn about their approach to the industry players.


Until now, I conveyed my action-based learning experience in my MBA1 year. In my second year, I am and will be engaged in more action based learning opportunities this year such as Living Business Leadership Experience (LBLE) course, club leadership and projects, and coaching opportunities.

This winter, I will enroll in a course called “Living Business Leadership Experience.” Over a semester, students work strategy projects for real companies operating in various industries from sustainability to media. The difference of LBLE from MAP is that both undergraduate and MBAs can enroll in the class and work on the projects for a longer time, 16-weeks in total. This will be the time where I will leverage all my learnings from MAP and Business + Impact Challenge for teamwork, leadership, and project management, as well as fundamentals from my core marketing, strategy, and management and organizations courses.

At Ross, there are 45 student-led clubs where you can learn how to run an organization as the club’s leaders. To experience that, I joined the Michigan Code Academy, which is sponsored by the Center for Academic Innovation therefore enabled me to work with the wider University of Michigan. In this club, I worked as the Marketing VP along with six other classmate VPs in my first year. I worked on the club’s branding and ran the communications to 200 members across the university and alumni. As the club leadership, we will continue organizing education sessions for SQL, R, and Tableau for the Ross students.

Workshop in +Impact Studio – Finding solutions for common challenges women face

Lastly, I want to grow as a leader who is open to sharing knowledge with others and improving myself as a coach. That’s why I am coaching first-year MBA students through Women: Rising Program of Michigan Business Women and the Peer Support Network Program this year. Both programs provide first-year MBA students a safe space to engage with second-year MBA students and leverage their expertise from the previous year. We just kicked off the first meetings for both programs where we listened to the MBA1’s expectations and needs. These platforms are great opportunities for us to listen to the MBA1s and for MBA1s to learn from our experiences from last year’s pandemic and the adjustments we made.


Action-based curriculum means learning by doing, which means to me experiencing – using your knowledge actively in a real scenario. Personally, my engagement and interest increases when I work on real projects rather than hypothetical business cases or business cases from the 1980s. Besides learning more effectively, while working on a real project, we do not have specific roles. Therefore, we have the chance to experience different things, such as how to be a project manager or researcher. This freedom provides us safe space to develop our skill gaps or experience different functions without long commitments. In MAP, I was responsible for client management, as I wanted to experience it for the first time. Also, I was responsible for the topics I wanted to learn more about, such as sustainability and long-term vision for manufacturers.

For me, the most important benefit of action-based learning is that it provides multiple platforms for us to learn from each other as Rossers. I am able to work with many of my classmates who are from various industries and geographies and continuously I am learning from their insights with real examples.

My name is Ebrar Erdem and I am a second-year MBA student at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. I’ve previously lived in Wisconsin, Germany, and the UK for short periods during my undergraduate years at Bogazici University, where I studied Chemical Engineering. I knew that I always wanted to have my MBA in a diverse and dynamic environment to develop myself further. This is what brought me to Ann Arbor in July 2019. Before coming to Ross, I worked for five years at GlaxoSmithKline in various roles and organizations from MENA to Emerging Markets organizations. This summer, I had a fantastic experience in Amazon Web Services as a Sr. Program Manager Intern. Aside from work, I am a sailing captain, an advanced SCUBA diver, and an amateur artist who plays the drums and works on oil paintings. You can follow me on my LinkedIn and Instagram to hear updates about MBA life at Ross.

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