Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Forrest Cox, University of Michigan (Ross)

Forrest Cox

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“Diligently and persistently driving towards the common ground to meaningfully engage, support, and prosper together.”

Hometown: Alexandria, VA, with strong ties to my tribe the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Mayetta, KS

Fun Fact About Yourself: My wife and I have a Xoloitzcuintle, don’t worry we are currently heavily investing in full body doggie parkas in preparation for the winter!

Undergraduate School and Major:

University of Michigan – Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Major: Public Policy; Minor: Native American Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Data Analyst, Universal Service Administrative Company – Lifeline.

USAC administers a fund run by the Federal Communications Commission that we all pay into called the Universal Service Fund. This fund promotes equitable access to phone and internet services nationwide making sure that telecommunications carriers are serving low-income communities with affordable options.

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? Aside from being my alma mater (GO Blue!), the MAP program at Ross made it really stand out from the rest of the pack. The ability to have essentially another internship, with the possibility of engaging with an industry and function outside of my focus area – and the potential of the project to be located abroad – is really exciting to me and greatly separates Ross from other schools.

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. I entered Ross through the Consortium and immediately alumni and current students were providing their congratulations and offering to be a resource. So far, I have met folks from all sorts of backgrounds carrying a passion for what they did previously and a strong openness for what is to come. There is a constant high level of thinking promoting very thoughtful conversations among our group. Our Consortium group at Ross is big and constantly communicating, making sure we each know when pre-MBA items are due and celebrating each other’s wins. The now second years I met last year and the alumni I have met have been incredibly helpful in sharing resources and introducing me to others who can speak to the intersection of my interests and their experiences.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross? I am most excited for the Finance Club and the multiple student lead funds. When connecting with current students, I heard consistently about the strength of the Finance Club and how it is designed for second years to lead the way for first years. Where everyone has the ability to rise to the same skill level and leverage each other’s networks productively to collectively win placements and receive support from alumni. I am really looking forward to pushing forward together with fellow students that have a similar interest in understanding the many aspects of finance, beyond just the coursework.

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Growth. As I attended the welcome weekend, I spoke with prospective classmates and current students, I heard a very familiar diligent curiosity and drive to learn from one another that I experienced as an undergraduate at Michigan. The larger Michigan campus family is huge, but Ross helps drive that curiosity by constantly growing its reach and involvement to nearly all parts of the campus. This enabled Ross students to pursue all interests and possibilities to find where we as students can plug in and take our first steps into leadership roles and drive change.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Finding a fulfilling aspect of the intersection of policy and data to teach myself, contribute, and push my knowledge of coding and data analysis has been a great personal accomplishment in my career.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? My go to podcast is “How I built this” with Guy Raz. Hearing conversations with business leaders about how their iconic brands originated and learning what challenges their leadership teams faced is really inspiring and eye opening to see how success can be found or hidden.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I aim to learn technical skills in finance and management to help contribute to my tribe’s economic development and revenue diversification efforts, as well as to support other tribes and their communities. In my previous work with Cherokee Nation, my role was focused on political strategy and economic development to help identify potential resource overlaps and goal alignments where coordinated development would make sense to pursue with area businesses. My career then progressed into building a skillset in data analysis while working for a federal benefit program. With political strategy and data analysis, I hope to add finance to my toolkit to reapproach tribal economic development and provide leadership.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Michigan Ross’s MBA program? Find something in your work or your hobbies that you can really grow a passion for. Having the ability to speak to admissions about it doesn’t necessarily have to divulge the content of the work, but rather needs to show your persistence to solving a problem or your passion for creating unique solutions upon learning new insights or skills.


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