Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Alexia Sabogal, University of Michigan (Ross)

Alexia Sabogal

University of Michigan,  Ross School of Business

Sports enthusiast and storyteller who’s curious about innovation, passionate about cooking, and a people connector.”

Hometown: New York, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: When I was 13-years-old at summer camp, I made my own oar from scratch and canoed for nine days on the lakes of Maine.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Virginia – Foreign Affairs and Women, Gender & Sexuality double major

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Coordinator, Brand Alliances at Major League Soccer

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As they say, “One learns business by doing business” and Michigan Ross’ action-based learning opportunities make this possible. In particular, the Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) program, Ross’ signature seven-week program, allows students to consult with an organization to solve a business challenge. These projects with U.S. or international corporations range from marketing strategies, to proposals, and business plans. I am definitely a hands-on learner, so I look forward to pursuing an international experience with exposure to professionals at an industry of my choice. Hearing the enthusiasm in the voices of alums and MBA 2s as they spoke about their MAP experience affirmed my decision for this journey.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am excited about another one of Ross’ action-based learning programs: the Sanger Leadership Center’s Crisis Challenge. Teams are designated as senior executives responsible for responding to a crisis in a high-stakes environment. This simulation tests your ability to work on a team, strategize effectively, be nimble on your feet, and most of all, work under pressure – which, for me, forces me outside of my comfort zone and to rise to the occasion. I often learn something new about myself and I look forward to pushing the limits during this challenge.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Ross? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? I am most excited about going to Ann Arbor, meeting and bonding with my classmates and the MBA 2s. Living in a college town like Ann Arbor will only help facilitate relationships with my fellow Rossers. Especially coming from New York City, it is nice to have a change in pace and experience the Midwest hospitality (I hear that’s a thing!).

What makes me nervous is that there’s always something to do. When you’re talking to alums or second years, you’re always given the advice of knowing what you want to prioritize before business school starts – it can be social, academics, or recruitment. These commitments are often viewed as a triangle where only one can be at a time can be on the top. My worry is that I will spread myself too thin by wanting to do and experience everything in two years.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: This year, I was named to the Front Office Sports Rising 25 list that names 25 people, all under 25 years old, who are upcoming leaders and game changers in the industry. I was the first and only one to be nominated by Major League Soccer, so I was humbled to be chosen.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I was approaching three years at Major League Soccer (MLS) when I thought about what my next move and next five years would look like. I was at a point where I had built my own network within the industry, but was missing key business acumen and skills to grow into certain leadership opportunities. I often saw that people who had business experience outside of sports were highly valued within the industry, so that inspired me to explore getting an MBA to fill the gaps and make the transition.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Anderson, Columbia, Darden, Kelley, Owen, and Wharton.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Why are you leaving sports to get your MBA if your long-term goal is to work in the same industry?

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I took advantage of the early recruitment opportunities through the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management’s Orientation Program and the Management for Leadership Tomorrow’s Professional Development Program. Both programs have provided the opportunities to network and interview with companies like Amazon, Dell, Microsoft, Nike, and PepsiCo. This process has helped me nail down my elevator pitch, or what Ross calls your ‘odyssey’ and the CAR/STAR framework. I’m very grateful to enter business school with two offers and look forward to recruiting on campus…virtually of course! I also took the MBA Math online course to help mentally prepare for the CORE work. Coming from a non- quantitative background, I wanted to gain a sense of what to expect.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My defining moment was when I planned and hosted a client engagement event around the 2018 FIFA World Cup across three different U.S. markets. Part of the responsibility of the Brand Alliances department is to engage clients – brands or agencies – about partnership opportunities. We wanted to capitalize on our sport’s biggest moment, the World Cup, despite the U.S. Men’s National Team failing to qualify.

As a result, I pitched the idea to host a “World Cup Brunch” event for our clients. This event included a half-time program of a panel that featured the president of the local MLS club and Howard Webb, the 2010 World Cup Final head referee, discussing the state of soccer in our nation. The event hosted over 200 people across San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Planning and hosting each brunch taught me how to work cross-functionally, manage up, and adapt to change. It also gave me a 101 in food and beverage minimums! I believe this experience not only provided a glimpse into the chaos of what business school could be like but also equipped me with the tools to navigate through it.


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