Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Brianna Ross, University of Michigan (Ross)

Brianna Ross

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“The Aragorn to your fellowship: passionate, devoted, justice-seeking, slightly brooding, with minorly major identity issues.”

Hometown: Somerton, AZ

Fun Fact About Yourself: My plants have babies, so I’ve matured from plant mom to plant grandma.

Undergraduate School and Major: Stanford University, Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: NIKE, Inc. Product Line Manager, Purpose Footwear

Michigan Ross is best known for experiential learning programming like MAP, Living Business Leadership Experience, and the Leadership Crisis Challenge. What experiential program interests you the most? I’m most excited about Business+Impact’s Open Road at Ross, “an established action-based social entrepreneurship program”. It’s a unique and inspiring opportunity to meet and work directly with impact-focused entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. (hopefully a glimpse of my future)—and also see different parts of the U.S. since you’re road tripping!

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? When applying to MBA programs, I looked for programs that emphasized social impact and mission-driven leadership. Ross’s programming has no shortage of impact- and mission-driven classes, clubs, and activities, including Leading Inclusive Teams offered by the Sanger Leadership Center. There’s also a convenient list of 102 ways to make an impact while at Ross, which has made my “things to do at Michigan” list…well, ambitious.

Since my “going back to school” thesis is to elevate my impact, it was imperative that I choose a program that would foster that. I wanted a program that was going to challenge and support me to become a more effective and inclusive leader, as well as open my aperture to the countless ways I could influence positive change.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross? It would be the Zell Lurie Student Startup Grants program, which includes the Applebaum Dare to Dream grant program. I’ve always been interested in starting my own venture and am excited to work with the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies to explore that avenue during my time at Ross.

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Community. Maybe cliché, but an honest answer. The amount of time and energy invested in me from current students, alums, and staff alike—even before I submitted an application—really set Michigan apart. I made friends before I matriculated (making friends as an adult is hard) and felt like I belonged, which is, unfortunately, not common for me. Based on my interactions with the Ross community, I genuinely felt confident that Ross was a place I could thrive.

“You are the company you keep” and the community at Ross is generous, supportive, and pays it forward. These—among other things—are qualities I want to ingrain and amplify both during and beyond Ross.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Co-developing and launching Nike Footwear team’s DEI strategy. Professionally, I gained confidence in my ability to influence positive change and learned how to lead in delicate (and often complex) situations. Personally, it made me more self-aware of my biases and blind spots and prompted me to be more vulnerable.

This experience was truly a catalyst for me because it illuminated what I wanted from my career. It became evident that I was hungry for greater impact and fueled by a desire to be a positive force for change in society. It also gave me the confidence to not settle where I wasn’t having the impact I wanted.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? My North Star is to influence positive systemic change for underserved/underrepresented people, which I believe will manifest in different ways throughout my career. At the moment, I want to explore impact consulting and investing because I believe I can significantly scale my impact in these settings.

As mentioned before, I would love to pursue my own venture, so that’s on the cards as well!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Michigan Ross’s MBA program? First and foremost, leverage the support from the Michigan network. They will be eyes and ears for your essays and interview prep and also just moral support because the admissions process can be pretty intense.

Secondly (and most importantly), tell your story and be clear on your why. You will hear lots of opinions on what you should do, what you should say, and how you should say it. However, they are just that: opinions. Trust yourself to filter what’s beneficial for you or not, have conviction in your goals, and show the Ross Admissions Team the unique and brilliant addition you’ll make to our community.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.