Meet The MBA Class Of 2023: Eden Berdugo, University Of Michigan (Ross)

Eden Berdugo

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“Fervent community leader excited about leveraging entrepreneurship to advance social and economic justice.”

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: When the pandemic hit, I was lucky enough to spend time back home with my family. While there, I started photographing my mother’s cooking, which is influenced by our Jewish and French Moroccan upbringing. I have since been transcribing her recipes and working on compiling a cookbook for my sisters and me who still have a lot to learn from her!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, San Diego; Double major in Political Science and Urban Studies & Planning

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Director, Division of Business Services, NYC Department of Small Business Services

What word best describes the Michigan Ross students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Approachable. First, Rossers are so quick to respond and offer their time and insight; there was not one student or alum who didn’t get back to me when I reached out (which was not the case for other schools). Once I connected with them, our discussions were often very conversational and in no way sugarcoated; this helped quell my nerves and focus on the conversation I was actually having rather than trying to impress or “perform.” Not only did I get honest advice and feedback, I was creating genuine connections with future classmates. They were so willing to support me throughout my application process. They would edit my application, prep for my interviews, suggest the best GMAT/GRE resources, and help me make the decision to go to Ross this year. The support I received from the Ross community significantly impacted not only my success but my decision to attend Ross.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Michigan Ross’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? In addition to Ross’s robust action-based learning curriculum, its collaborative and community-oriented culture attracted me to the program. I am a strong believer that individual success is contingent on the support from, and success, of our communities; I thrive best when I can build and foster community among my peers. I learned about Ross’s culture from conversations with students and alumni and at Ross’s Women in Leadership Conference, and experienced it as I prepared for the start of the program. Students and staff actively offered their support, guidance, and feedback. They helped me on everything from crafting thank you emails to recruiters to revising my resume using Ross’s resume format to finding the best eyebrow threading salon in Ann Arbor. I am excited to build community and collaborate with the class of 2023!

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross? I am really excited to join Ross’s Social Venture Fund, one of the very first student-led impact investing funds. The fund supports for-profit companies to devise and implement innovative solutions in the field of climate, community development, education, and health in the US. I want to leverage my skills supporting New Yorkers in launching and growing their small businesses and apply my learnings at Ross to invest in companies that are committed to measurable social and economic impacts. Participating in the Social Venture Fund will be a great opportunity for me to continue pursuing my passions for advancing economic equity.

When you think of Michigan Ross, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Seasoned: It is very clear that Ross has spent extensive time and resources iterating and perfecting every aspect of the program. The amount of academic resources, recruitment support, and career coaching — as well as the sheer size of the alumni community — are just a few components that speak to the program’s expertise. One way that leadership, faculty, and staff at Ross show their seasoned commitment to our success is by not only listening to our feedback but collaborating with us to enhance services accordingly. Ross has also exemplified a commitment to DEI through their 2015 five-year DEI strategic plan that has since been updated to meet the evolving needs of the Ross community.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As director at NYC’s Department of Small Business Services, I oversaw two full-time program managers, nearly $1 million of public and private funding, and ten programs that served over 1,000 minority- and women-owned businesses annually. Last year, I quickly pivoted my team to focus on COVID-19 relief efforts, and I am most proud of the success of the initiatives that I led.

Specifically, I spearheaded the first consulting project between SBS and Deloitte to create a reopening playbook for businesses recovering from and growing beyond COVID-19. I also managed a team of four to pilot the City’s first mentorship programs for Black and low-income entrepreneurs recovering from COVID-19 as part of the Mayor’s Racial, Inclusion and Equity Taskforce. Lastly, I launched NYC’s inaugural cohort-based entrepreneurial bootcamps for Black entrepreneurs and Black women entrepreneurs who have faced systemic barriers in launching and growing their businesses this year.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? When COVID-19 hit, I helped New York City businesses as well as my dad’s business, a small concessions store in San Diego, recover from COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, I spent many of my days alternating between reviewing my dad’s revenue statements and payroll records to dispersing NYC relief grants and submitting these very documents on behalf of my dad. I lived at the uncomfortable intersection between dispersing funds and requesting them myself. In the process, I gained perspective on the difficulty of navigating public and private institutions for low-income, minority, and immigrant communities. I concluded that we have a collective responsibility as a society to provide mutual aid and quality services for vulnerable communities, especially during periods of extreme uncertainty. A strong and diverse business ecosystem is also imperative to building and preserving equitable economies, and we cannot build such an ecosystem without a bold vision and strategy.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? After a challenging year supporting small businesses, I came to a turning point in my career in which I want to scale my impact. I want to use my MBA to consult companies on how they can funnel more private sector dollars to small- to mid-sized, minority- and women-owned businesses. Ultimately, I want to design and implement end-to-end strategic processes for private and public entities that create pipelines of diverse and sustainable suppliers and drive inclusive growth. I felt that the best way to pursue these goals was by going to business school, specifically to gain the academic foundation, industry experience, and an amazing network that will support me along the way.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Just Ross!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Michigan Ross’s MBA program? To all future applicants, but especially to the women, minority, first-generation, and low-income applicants: if they can do it, you can too. Don’t ever doubt yourself and your ability to not only get over the finish line but thrive while doing it. There will always be someone with more time, money, and resources than you, so drown out the noise and focus on what it is that YOU want and how you will get there. As cheesy as it sounds, you are the only one who will live your life so don’t let the perception of others’ success get in the way of yours.

In terms of tangible advice, start early and gradually with the following things: study for the GMAT/GRE; connect with current and former students to get a feel for Ross; and start a Google doc with any and all passions, interests, professional learnings, and dreams to help you craft your narrative when it comes time to. Lastly, create a project plan for your application journey; you don’t have to plunge into everything at once as long as you are organized and realistic with your timeline.