Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Cheryl Li, University of Michigan (Ross)

Cheryl Li

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“An advertising veteran now advocating for minimalist lifestyle and maximalist life experience.”

Hometown: Shenzhen, China

Fun Fact About Yourself: There’s always a day (or more) in my trips where I’d eat at more than 10 restaurants in a day.

Undergraduate School and Major: New York University Shanghai (as the second class ever!) Double majored in Business & Marketing, and Interactive Media Arts.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: TikTok, Global Product Marketing Manager

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? Might be a cliche answer for Ross but definitely the team spirit. It’s important to me in two folds: 1) Networking could be uncomfortable and feels insincere but the Ross culture makes it as natural as meeting a new friend at a party; and 2) An environment like this reminds me to always uplift and care for each other, and encourages me to develop into a more thoughtful leader.

What has been your first impression of the Ross MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Ross story so far. Some of the nicest people I’ve met. I cold emailed an alum working at Amazon and I got a reply within the same week. We initially set a 30-minute call but she wanted to make sure all my questions were answered, and we ended up talking for over an hour.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross? Easily MAP. It’s a mini internship before the summer. The school sources them but students still get to pick. And you potentially get to travel to a new place all sponsored. What gets better than that?

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why?  Grounded. People here feel down to earth and genuinely care about each other and doing business for good. I have so much respect for all the dual-degree students we have and am so excited to work with them. Even though we are at a business school, we know that business is not the end in itself, but only a means to make a bigger impact.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It’s tempting to talk about the product launches I managed that unblocked revenue and significantly improved customer satisfaction in a sector with a history of high complaints. But what I truly view as my biggest accomplishment is how I changed the way everyone on our team works to be data-driven.

Three months of self-initiated programs from methodology and technical skill sharing, to 1-on-1 catch up and problem solving transformed how the team works in the way we think, document, communicate and report. It helped our team demonstrate the value of our work and gained leadership recognition and support on important projects. The impact spread beyond our immediate work performance and pushed cross-functional partners to be more data-driven. This improved my peers’ performance review results as I later learned from my manager, and even helped some make career transitions. It is so rewarding and humbling to see the profound impact I was able to make on not just the business, but the people.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Any student-led podcast by your target school. Business Beyond Usual is a podcast created and managed by Michigan Ross MBA students. It’s so informative and most importantly, allows you to get used to the MBA language and mindset (specific to the school you’re applying to). Especially during the busy application season, podcasts are so much easier to fit into a daily routine.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? The leadership experience I have had up until this point has shown me that leadership is a huge responsibility to others and it takes practice to hone in on the style that fits me and makes me proud. I want to fine-tune my style of leadership at this stage of my career before I take on more responsibilities.

Tech strategy, either at a tech company or a management consulting firm.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UVA Darden, Northwestern Kellogg, Berkley Haas.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Michigan Ross’s MBA program? Talk to current students and alumni, get used to their language and mindset, and be true to yourself in this process. If it feels easy enough then the school is probably a good fit for you and your fit will naturally come out in your essays and interviews.


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