2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Alexia Sabogal, University Of Michigan (Ross)

Alexia Sabogal

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“Born and raised New Yorker and 60% extrovert who enjoys sports, cooking, and building community.” 

Hometown: New York, NY

Fun fact about yourself:  I played the clarinet when I was younger and played in the Honor Band, comprised of select students from Catholic schools across the city. My favorite song was “Oye Como Va” by Tito Puente

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Virginia – Foreign Affairs and Women, Gender & Sexuality

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I previously worked at Major League Soccer as a Senior Coordinator on the Brand Alliances (formerly Business Development) team where we secured partners for the league and the United States Soccer Federation (including the Men’s, Women’s, and Youth National Teams, the Mexican National Team in the U.S. (Fun fact, they play more games in the U.S. than in Mexico), and the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association of Football (CONCACAF).

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021?  I interned at Google, specifically under the Google Customer Solutions umbrella, on the Strategy & Operations team focusing on sales strategy for their small and medium-sized business digital ad products.

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company as a Marketing & Sales Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: 

– Founding member of the Business+Tech Fellows class that led the launch of the inaugural Michigan Ross Sports Tech Conference and more recently oversaw the corporate engagement for the center and a new Startup Experience pilot program for MBAs

Business+Impact Nonprofit Board Fellow with Alternative for Girls (AFG), a Detroit-based nonprofit organization that focuses on helping at-risk girls and women by providing shelter, prevention, and outreach via mentorship programs. During my time, I helped develop their Social Enterprise strategy to aid their constituents with skill-building opportunities such as part-time jobs and resume workshops

– V.P. of Partnerships for the Entertainment + Digital Media Club, where I coordinated the first-ever cross-school networking event for MBAs interested in Entertainment, partnering with respective Entertainment and Media clubs at Columbia Business School, NYU Stern, UCLA Anderson, and USC Marshall

– V.P. of Alumni and Corporate Relations for the Sports Business Association

– Events Co-Chair for the Black Business Student Association

– V.P. of Membership Engagement for the Hispanic Business Student Association

– Beyond Business as Usual Podcast Team Member

– Section 4 Events Co-Chair

– Student Ambassador

– Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management Member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of launching the first Michigan Ross Sports Tech Conference in 2021. As a Business + Tech fellow, I led the Sports Tech vertical, which included launching the conference to build awareness of the center ahead of the launch. My responsibility was to form a conference leadership team, comprised of MBAs with similar backgrounds or passions to help execute the event. As the project manager, I led the group of seven MBAs over five months to launch the inaugural conference. Together, we secured over 35 speakers from top companies across both the sports and tech industries, such as Google, FanDuel, and WHOOP. Over 200 people, students from other business schools and industry professionals, attended from across the country, the U.K., and even as far as China. As we gear up for year two, the conference has a new leadership team of MBA1s and 2s who will continue the momentum. I hope that the conference will propel Michigan Ross as a leader in the sports and tech space and will be a piece of my legacy.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my time at Major League Soccer (MLS), I was a part of one of the largest multi-year partnership deals in company history. In late 2019, MLS announced a partnership with BODYARMOR as the Official Sports Drink of the league, 19 club teams, and two events under the joint venture with Liga MX. I developed the strategy deck that was used to pitch the President of BODYARMOR. It helped bring the vision of the partnership to life and helped get the deal across the finish line. Alongside the Deputy Commissioner, being a part of the pitch meeting of this iconic partnership is a memorable moment personally and professionally, something I’m most proud of.

Why did you choose this business school? Community, Community, Community! It sounds cliché, but it’s true. As a person who sits at the intersection of a few identities, it was vital for me to see the representation on campus and feel the support – and I did, even as a prospective student. Members from across the Black Business Student Association, Hispanic Business Student Association, and the Consortium helped and supported me through the application process. Once I became a student, I immediately bonded with my section-mates, despite being virtual. There is a level of intentionality and authenticity that Rossers have, and it’s hard to find elsewhere. Even in high-stress moments like recruiting, we are always looking out for one another by checking in, helping with interview prep, and forwarding opportunities. They say iron sharpens iron, and this community of diverse, accomplished people pushes you outside of your comfort zone, empowering you to be the best version of yourself. And, for that, I’m grateful.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Ross hosts several TED-style events about different topics that feature MBA students throughout the year. There’s Story Lab where select students share a personal story about a life-changing moment or a significant memory. The Out for Business Club hosts OUTx where members share their coming out stories; the Armed Forces Association hosts VETx, where veterans share their stories about their time in the service; and the Asian American Business Association has East Meets West, where members share their personal cultural stories. Most recently, the Michigan Business Women Club hosted WOMENx. Each club has its unique niche or twist to these TED-style talks, and I know more clubs, like the Black Business Student Association, are launching their version. These events indicate how reflective and vulnerable the Ross community can be and is, which is an undervalued aspect of business school. Students share deeply personal stories during these events; some have even brought me to tears. And, it’s prompted me to want to learn more about my classmates.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would spread out my leadership roles across both years evenly. In my first year, I prioritized recruiting, core classes, and different Ross experiences like Nonprofit Board Fellow over club leadership roles. I was under the impression that between the social, academic, and recruiting aspects of business school, I would be too overwhelmed to juggle club leadership. In my second year, I tried to double down on club leadership roles…by agreeing to be part of four different club boards. With recruiting occurring earlier this year, and as a club leader in your second year, it requires more responsibility, especially as we get the MBA1s up to speed. However, I’ve learned that whether it’s recruiting, classes, or clubs, business school has allowed me to become more proficient in multitasking. I would have been able to balance the different responsibilities my first year.

What surprised you the most about business school? I always heard that business schools — especially clubs, events, and initiatives — are student-led during the application process. I did not think much about it until I got here and saw how the students genuinely drive most things that occur on campus. During my time at Ross, several things launched: at least two new clubs, a new healthcare-focused case competition, and several new conferences. Each new initiative has the support and help from faculty and administration, which is also critical in getting things off the ground. Personally speaking, I’m working with my classmate Justin Rufen-Blanchette, to launch a new student venture fund at Ross that will focus on Sports Tech investments. There has been great traction and interest from the School of Kinesiology and the Zell Lurie Institute. I’m excited that I get to lead something like this and have the support of others.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? While a part of the Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s MBA Prep Program, we were encouraged to network with current students and alums in the industry or roles we were interested in. I spoke with several Ross students who came from a sports background or made a successful pivot into Tech. As for the alums, I talked to people who had a successful career in the sports industry or had a role at the intersection of sports and tech (e.g., sports partnerships/marketing at a tech company). Through my conversations with both groups, I learned how Ross could position me for success in a long-term career in Sports Tech. Furthermore, it served as research that helped me craft my essays to express my short-term and long-term career goals that not only made sense but were unique.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire?  This was a hard question, especially when my class is composed of remarkable individuals. Still, if I had to choose one, I would say Markyth Smith. Markyth is not only a classmate but a section mate, and I have the honor of calling him a friend. Markyth is always willing to step outside of his comfort zone, dive deeper into unfamiliar topics, and is always ready to learn from others. He approaches relationships with understanding, compassion, and grace. You can always find Markyth helping others, from breaking down complex problems from core classes to case interview prep. He is constantly pouring into others, lifting as he climbs. He most recently dedicated his time to help me with casing and was a big supporter, and I would say proponent, in securing my McKinsey offer. From casing advice to health and wellness tips, Markyth is there as a resource, sounding board, etc. I’m grateful for his help and friendship, and I look forward to witnessing the great things he will accomplish.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? One person sticks out as the catalyst during my business school journey – Angad Banga. Angad is a Ross alum, Class of 2020, and a former colleague at Major League Soccer. Truthfully, after a conversation with Angad, I began to consider applying to Ross. Angad was the only other person I knew applying to business school at that time. Whether it was early mornings or late evenings in the office, we would commiserate about application strategy, interview tips, and how to balance work and the business school process. Witnessing Angad’s successful transition from sports to business school and his support gave me the courage and push I needed to see it through myself. Angad and I always joked about how we were the foundations of the MLS to Ross pipeline!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Professionally, I would like to i) work internationally and ii) balance my work with social impact. I’ve always considered myself a “global citizen,” intrigued by countries and cultures outside of my own. This is what drove me to study abroad in undergrad and apply for Ross’ global exchange program. Although my study abroad in Argentina did not work out this year, working outside of the U.S. is something I would love to do. Navigating a different business culture and driving impact is a challenge and a goal I want to take on next. As for my second bucket list item, I’ve always made time to volunteer and mentor. Back in New York City, I mentored young Black and LatinX girls in middle school on school subjects like Math and English. Now transitioning into consulting, I look forward to prioritizing projects that promote racial equity and volunteering in the local community in my new home. This aspect of volunteering and social impact keeps me grounded as I advance in my career.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career?

While the pandemic has affected businesses, especially small businesses, it served as a catalyst for people to pursue their passions. The Great Resignation has given way to people launching their own companies, whether making masks or venturing into web3. The pandemic has taught me to prioritize my passions and that it is never too late to go after them. In a time when mental and emotional wellness is a priority, discovering and pursuing your passions can help improve your quality of life.

What made Alexia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“When you meet Alexia, you instantly see a spark. She has a passion for life and people that gives her the energy to take on new and groundbreaking opportunities. I selected Alexia to be a Ross Tech Scholar and to launch the inaugural Ross Sports Tech Conference. The University of Michigan is well known for its athletics and top technical degrees, so we saw an opportunity and demand to create a world-class conference. Easier said than done. Starting from scratch, Alexia built a plan then used her relational skills to build a team. In short, the conference, which took place in the middle of the pandemic, drew over 500 virtual attendees. In addition, there were close to 50 panelists and speakers for a one-day event. Even though Alexia’s role is done, she still gives a lot of time to the next set of leaders to ensure that the conference continues to become greater. That sums up who she is and why she will be on to greater things herself after Ross.”

Phil Brabbs
Managing Director of Business+Tech, Ross School of Business

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