P&Q: What have MBAs told you is the most memorable, signature experience they’ve had in your program? Why did it resonate so much with them?
BK: “The most memorable experiences that MBAs have shared really center around their MAP (Multidisciplinary Action Projects) course, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. MAP is the signature program of action-based learning at Michigan Ross and it involves a small team of students taking on an in-depth, real-world challenge for a sponsoring company or nonprofit organization over the course of seven weeks. Many of the projects are sponsored by Ross alumni, which furthers the connection for the students. Students find the experience to be challenging and enjoy the collaboration between their teams, faculty advisors, and sponsor organizations. MAP is viewed as an opportunity to put students’ classroom learning to practice, develop new skills, be exposed to a new industry or function, and often travel.
In addition, students appreciate the level of access and interaction they have with sponsoring companies. Teams often deliver their final presentations to organization’s leadership and as a result are able to hear valuable feedback about their recommendations as well as the long-term impact of those recommendations to the company.
This year, MBAs tackled 78 projects with diverse sponsoring organizations from 13 countries spanning five continents. The organizations represent a diverse range of industries, from technology to sustainability, media entertainment and sports, healthcare, and financial services. Of those projects, 42 were sponsored by alumni.”
P&Q: Ross is known as one of the top MBA programs for experiential learning into your curriculum? Give us a couple of examples of hands-on programs that Ross offers and how they enhance your students’ prospects?
BK: “If you talk with any incoming MBA about why they choose Michigan Ross, they will almost always mention the aforementioned MAP program. However, MAP is just one of countless opportunities that students have to learn business by doing business. A couple of examples come to mind:
The many student-run investment funds at Michigan Ross that I also covered earlier. In addition to the Michigan Climate Venture fund, another recently launched fund is the International Investment Fund. The International Investment Fund was developed in partnership with the William Davidson Institute, and is the first of its kind at a business school. It invests in and supports small- and medium-size enterprises in emerging economies, starting with India and expanding worldwide. Other funds include the Social Venture Fund – the first student-led impact investing fund at a business school – and the Zell Founders Fund, which supports graduating or recently graduated U-M student entrepreneurs.
Another exciting action-based learning opportunity at Michigan Ross is our Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator that aims to support needed innovation by helping students develop and launch their creative ideas for addressing major challenges in healthcare. The accelerator – which is managed by the Zell Lurie Institute at Michigan Ross – provides student teams with grant seed funding; mentorship from U-M faculty, staff, and alumni; and advice from a board of leaders in healthcare entrepreneurship and investing. Among the healthcare solutions the accelerator has addressed include: transitional aid for postpartum parents to ensure a healthy postpartum environment; inventory management to provide hospitals with real-time data on medical supplies; and a product that replaces plastic prescription bottles with a 100% recyclable solution.”
P&Q: Where are some of your students’ favorite hang-outs? What do they do and why do they gravitate there?
TS: “Students really enjoy the opportunity to connect with classmates and others in the Michigan community and there are several places around campus that lend themselves to that experience. One is in the Ross building itself. Michigan Ross features two coffee shops, a cafe, a fitness center, an electronic business and finance center, and lots of meeting rooms and spaces to gather. The design theme of the building is one that fosters and encourages connection and collaboration. Whether working on class assignments, preparing for recruiting interviews, or just hanging out with friends, the building is always humming with activity and energy when school is in session.
Outside of Ross, MBA students also love the experience of “The Bus”. The Bus is the cornerstone of pregame and postgame tailgating during the fall football season for MBAs. The Bus hosts tailgates for all MBAs and their friends and family and features a DJ, food, and lots of fellowship as students prepare to join well over 110,000 of their friends in the Big House to cheer on their beloved Wolverines.
Many students also gather off-campus in downtown Ann Arbor, which is a short walk from Ross. Ann Arbor has all the facets of a big city in a small town atmosphere, with an eclectic and diverse restaurant, bar, shopping and club scene. Whether you want to visit a bookstore, grab a coffee, sit outside and dine on a patio, grab a drink with a friend, or shop for fashionable Wolverine gear, you can find a great place downtown. A few of my favorites are Avalon Cafe, Aventura, and Literati Bookstore. In addition, there are so many wonderful parks and museums on- and off-campus where students can go to escape city life, go for a hike, kayak or float down a river, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of Ann Arbor as a cozy study spot.”
P&Q: What types of programming or services does your business school offer that make it welcoming and advantageous to women? Underrepresented minorities? International students?
TS: “Michigan Ross seeks to create an inclusive community where all members are welcomed and empowered to be their best selves. That includes fostering a culture of accessibility that encourages students of all backgrounds to take on leadership roles. Women represent 67% of all club leadership, 82% of our professional club presidents, and six of 10 student section presidents. As evidence of our support for women, we were ranked No. 1 in best resources for women by Princeton Review this year. In addition, the last 11 Full-Time MBA student body presidents have all been Consortium for Graduate Study in Management members and the last five were women of color. Michigan Ross has the largest Consortium alumni network, and we continue to have one of the largest incoming classes of Consortium members each year. We also have a long-standing relationship with the Forte Foundation, and are happy to welcome dozens of Forte Fellows each year, too.
We also have very active and engaged student affinity clubs at Michigan Ross. Michigan Business Women organizes impactful events like UpClose and Ross Women’s Weekend, while our Black Business Association hosts puts on the Alfred L. Edwards Conference, which is the longest-running conference at the University of Michigan and takes place annually in February for Black History Month.
Finally, we have launched many programs aimed at diversity and inclusion for MBAs. These include:
Allyship 101: In 2020 as a result of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others, our previous MBA Student Council VP for Diversity in partnership with the Directory of Diversity launched “Allyship 101”, four one-hour virtual workshops addressed questions such as: what is allyship; how do you show up as an ally; and how can you commit to advocating for marginalized groups now and in the future, both personally and professionally.
Food, Friends, and Culture: Also earlier in 2020, we developed an event series aimed at bringing students together and to learn more about each other called Food, Friends, and Culture. Food, Friends, and Culture creates a space for MBA students to intentionally share stories about their cultural backgrounds with their classmates while also featuring food, trivia, and an interactive activity from their cultures. Different affinity groups take turns hosting events throughout the year, and each one is insightful, entertaining, and full of delicious food from local restaurants.”
ADVICE TO PROSPECTIVE APPLICANTS
“Identify your North Star, and don’t discount your story. Your vulnerability and passion will shine through if you take the time to reflect on what makes you truly you and, more importantly, what is your “why” (i.e., your reason to apply). Consider: What is a story that only you can tell? What is the unique perspective that you bring to your work? What keeps you curious, awake at night, or gets you up in the morning? Sometimes it helps to do this exercise alone or with a partner or coworker who can help draw those answers out. This intentional reflection early on will also be helpful when navigating the plethora of opportunities available at Michigan Ross and keep you grounded in the process. Once you have your North Star, it’s easier to flesh out a narrative of where you want to go and how the Michigan Ross MBA will help you get there. Also, it never hurts to start early! Creating a spreadsheet to track your application progress can be that first step.”
Alex Perez-Garcia (’24)
“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.”
Alexia Sabogal (’22)
“I was clear in my essays and interview about why I wanted to come to Michigan and how I felt I could positively impact my class. Based on my prior experience, I wasn’t sure I fit the mold of someone who would be accepted into a top business school, so it was important for me to be clear on why I belonged and how I would use my experience to advance my career and help my classmates in the process. I found that it’s important to lean into your differences and bring unique experiences to offer an alternative perspective.”
Michael Hixon (’22)
|MBA Student||Hometown||Undergraduate Alma Mater||Last Employer|
|Akbar Arsiwala||Northville, MI||U.S. Naval Academy||Duo Security|
|Robin F. Baker||Bethel, NC||University of North Carolina at Greensboro||GoTHERAPY, Inc.|
|Adam Brewster||Grosse Pointe Park, MI||University of Michigan||CBS News|
|Raam Charran||Chennai, India||BITS Pilani Goa Campus||One Acre Fund|
|Forrest Cox||Alexandria, VA||University of Virginia||Universal Service Administrative Company|
|Carlos Delfino Sotelo||Houston, TX||Princeton University||Houston Independent School District|
|Sara Ford||Manhattan Beach, CA||University of Southern California||Free Arts|
|Camren Kaminsky||Paradise Valley, AZ||Arizona State University||Sky Advanced Solutions|
|Cheryl Li||Shenzhen, China||New York University Shanghai||TIkTok|
|Alex Perez-Garcia||Plano, TX||University of Chicago||Disability Lead|
|Hana Tomozawa||Honolulu, HI||Williams College||frog|
|Avery Waite||Rye, NY||Duke University||Clinton Health Access Initiative|
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