Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Christopher Connolly, University of Michigan (Ross)

Christopher Connolly

University of Michigan,  Ross School of Business

“I am a medical student interested in genetics, 3D-printing, and developing treatments for diseases.”

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have delivered three babies.

Undergraduate School and Major:

  • Stanford University, B.S. Biology (2015)
  • Stanford University, M.S. Biology (2016)
  • The University of Michigan Medical School, M.D. (2022)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Senate, Office of U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, Medical School Summer Intern

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? I personally learn best through applying knowledge to real problems and believe active learning better prepares me to face the challenges that will arise throughout my career. Ross’ commitment to action-based learning makes it a perfect fit for my learning style. As a specific example, opportunities at Ross such as MAP (Multidisciplinary Action Project) provide an unparalleled opportunity to test and solidify knowledge before embarking on a business school internship.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am very excited to become involved in Ross’ Design + Business (D+B) Club. As an undergrad at Stanford, I became interested in Design Thinking, which was pioneered by David Kelley at IDEO and the Stanford Design School. I believe that the basic principles of Design Thinking are underutilized in most industries. Getting involved with D+B will be a great opportunity to expand on my Design Thinking skills and enhance my ability to solve problems throughout my career.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Ross? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? I am excited and nervous to start business school for the same reason. My ultimate ambition is to help develop new treatments for patients. I am excited to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to jump-start this goal through many of Ross’ courses such as Venture Capital Finance and student-run funds like the Social Venture Fund. Like most people, I also find it daunting to jump into a new field as a complete novice. While I have a very strong foundation in science and medical training, I haven’t had as much exposure to the business side of healthcare. Thankfully, my excitement to start at Ross far outweighs my anxiety.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment has been getting into medical school as a person with a disability. Currently, individuals with disabilities can be denied the ability to matriculate into medical school due to physical requirements called “technical standards.” When applying to medical school, I knew that my test scores and grades were strong enough to go anywhere. However, I needed to find a program willing to work with me. After I was accepted at Michigan, a dean from the medical school called me and said, “Once you’re in, you’re family — and we take care of family.” This is the culture that permeates throughout the University of Michigan. That is the “Michigan Difference.”

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? One of the greatest benefits of completing an MBA at Ross now is that it will provide me with a unique perspective as I embark on the next stage of my medical training. After completing both business and medical school, I intend to complete a medical residency program. Pursuing an MBA prior to my first job as a physician will give me greater insight into the opportunities that exist to improve healthcare from both the patient and provider perspectives.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I only applied to Ross. During my first year of medical school I designed, 3-D printed, and patented modifications to my physical exam equipment to help me perform my clinical responsibilities. During this process, I worked with faculty and staff from the medical and business schools and Michigan’s Office of Technology Transfer. Although I contemplated applying to other programs, I realized that attending Ross would allow me to build on the relationships I have already made through the business and medical schools, get an exceptional education, and gain access to one of the strongest alumni networks in the world.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I was lucky to have a very personable interviewer who made our interaction feel more like a friendly discussion than an interview. The most challenging question might have been about my favorite part of living in Ann Arbor. It’s a toss-up between going to the Big House and Cantoro Italian Market.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I’m currently studying for my second medical licensing exam, which has been rescheduled twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In my limited free time, I have taken advantage of several opportunities from Ross including online accounting primers, resume workshops, and career research tutorials. I have also taken time to enjoy some fun virtual hangouts with my incredibly talented classmates!

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My defining moment was taking “Human Genetics,” the genetics course required of Stanford medical students, as an undergraduate. I had always been interested in genetics and took as many genetics courses as I could fit into my schedule. However, this course was unlike any I had ever taken. Over ten weeks, I learned about numerous rare genetic disorders and the latest advances in genetic testing. Despite learning a tremendous amount, the most valuable aspect of this course was listening to patients with genetic disorders describe the challenges they faced, their frustration with the limited treatment options for rare diseases, and their hope for a cure for their conditions. This course solidified my desire to attend medical school to provide care to those impacted by rare diseases, and inspired me to attend business school to learn how to develop and commercialize affordable treatments for patients.

 What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I am a big Costco fan. Business students could learn about establishing a loyal customer base, improving employee satisfaction, and creating a shopping experience with surprises down every aisle.