Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Anna H. Lam, University of Michigan (Ross)

Anna H. Lam

University of Michigan,  Ross School of Business

I am a first-generation Asian American who is fighting for a world that empowers and gives a voice to all.”

Hometown: Walnut, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: I roller-skate and am looking for others to skate with.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, Davis – Sociology & Psychology B.A.S.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Eden Housing, Associate Project Developer

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? Ross cares a lot about intersecting business with social impact. Through its centers, institutes, initiatives, and course offerings, I saw that Ross was providing the necessary resources to truly lead the way in making business a force for positive and social good. Just to name a few things that stood out to me – Business + Impact, +Impact Studio, Social Venture Fund, Nonprofit Board Fellows, and Social Innovation Series. Coming from a nontraditional, nonprofit background, this spoke to my hopes of creating a bridge between the private, public, and nonprofit sectors for the betterment of society. Ross was the only school that made me feel like they could provide a safe and resource-filled space for me to explore my goals for social impact.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am most excited about (1) the Urban Revitalization “circle” of the student-run Social Venture Fund, which seeks out investment opportunities that also have some level of social impact and (2) Detroit Revitalization & Business Initiative, which encourages student engagement with the city and promotes the healthy renewal of Detroit.

When I was conducting independent social research during my undergraduate education, I wrote my thesis on residential segregation, housing inequalities, and race. I specifically focused on a couple neighborhoods in Detroit, MI and Sacramento, CA. I’m very passionate about the revitalization of communities that have suffered. Not only am I excited to get into the nitty-gritty of impact investing with a focus on urban revitalization, I am also looking forward to seeing Detroit and its regrowth with my own eyes.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Ross? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? I am most excited to learn from a nurturing community and build upon my journey of self-empowerment. I am nervous about giving myself too much to do, and losing touch with my closest friends and family who are all long-distance.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment is staying true to my passion and curiosity regardless of how nontraditional it may be, or how little it may pay.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Since graduating from undergrad, I’ve been on a journey to understand the problems that America’s most underserved populations face. I have worked closely with individuals and families who were victims of a flawed system, I have learned about current solutions and built homes for these same individuals and families. Now, it’s time for me to learn the best way to scale impact and find ways to innovate change.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Columbia, UC Berkeley HAAS, UCLA Anderson, MIT Sloan, Stanford, USC Marshall

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? When asked why I was pursuing my career path in social impact, I explained how much I care about communities in need. Then, he asked me “But why do you care?”

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I have waived out of an accounting class and also taken Ross’ Fast Track in Finance so that I could start on an accelerated sequence of finance courses. Moreover, I have continued to reach out to students and graduates for informational chats about their careers plus any advice they may have for me in consideration of my goals. In preparation for how busy things will get and to thank them for their love and support, I have spent precious time with family and have made surprise goody bags for my friends.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I was attending UCLA’s Levine Affordable Housing Development Program, and I met a few people who helped me realize that our current perceptions and expectations for the private sector are limited and flawed. The private sector is capable of and should be socially responsible for the work that it does, the impact it has on people and the environment, and the communities that share this special planet. This prepared me for business school by giving me the permission to expect more from businesses and push boundaries.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Chobani. (1) They provide a safe space for their workers in a living wage, benefits, and assistance. (2) Founder Hamdi Ulukaya committed 10% of the company’s stocks to its employees. By promoting an employee-owned company, Chobani is a great example of healthy capitalism. (3) Chobani Foundation and Chobani Incubator. (Bonus) Chobani has a beautiful website, and their email updates to subscribers are pretty fun to read. All businesses should be driven to do good in some way. And there are many ways to do even better than what we are currently used to seeing.


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