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

Brennan Dougherty

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“Collaborative leader that recognizes others’ strengths and empowers them to act. A husband and father.”

Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have my license to navigate any size ship in the world!

Undergraduate School and Major:

The United States Merchant Marine Academy, B.S. Marine Transportation

Quinnipiac University, M.S. Organizational Leadership

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Coast Guard Sector New York, Safety and Security Operations Deputy.

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 (and why)? I am most excited about MAP; in fact, it was one of the biggest draws for me to the University of Michigan. My career as a Marine Safety Officer has involved interpreting and enforcing federal regulations within the maritime industry. We accomplish this through a qualification process known as the Performance Qualification Standard (PQS). I have found that completing the PQS gives you a solid foundation of knowledge, but you learn the most when you are out there on your own dealing with a situation that you have never seen before. That is what I am looking forward to with MAP, gaining a solid foundation of business education, then putting it to the test in the field.

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? The greater University of Michigan alumni network is what sealed the deal for me with Ross. Every single alumnus that I have talked to has an infectious sense of school pride. When it came to applying to the MBA program, that sense of school pride was always accompanied by a pay-it-forward attitude and an insistence on connecting me with someone else who could help. After being admitted to the program, I attended the Go Blue Rendezvous (GBR), which reaffirmed my choice to attend Ross. GBR was an exceptional program that I’d highly encourage any admitted applicant to attend. Admittedly, I am a sports junkie. Having dinner with my prospective classmates at the Big House, then getting to run around on the field (one month after my sixth knee surgery … don’t tell my doctor!) is something I’ll never forget.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross I am looking forward to actively participating in the Armed Forces Association (AFA) and the Energy Club. The AFA, through informal interactions, has already been an enormous help to me from the time I considered applying to Ross to moving my family to Ann Arbor. Current MBA2s and alumni helped me with interview prep and answered questions that were important to me about getting my family set up in Ann Arbor; I want to be sure that any veteran reaching out can count on me to help them.

The Energy Club appeals to me because of the nature of my career in the maritime industry. I have had the opportunity to review and regulate multiple projects involving alternative fuel sources for commercial vessels and have seen offshore wind farms on the eastern seaboard expand over the past 10+ years. The maritime industry is rapidly evolving, and I hope to learn more about new technologies and opportunities within the energy sector that could make it operate more efficiently.

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Family. If you could not tell from my headshot, I am not exactly a young MBA candidate! I am married with two kids (Morgan: 4yrs & Andi: 1yr), and my spouse (Dana) works full-time. My number one priority is my family, and that is what I’ve led with through all my interactions with admissions staff, alumni, and current students. Ross has been the only program that I applied to that placed emphasis on partners and how they are an integral part of your MBA journey. My spouse joined the Partners Club at Ross (PCAR) and has already connected with a few of my future classmates’ partners.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In my most recent assignment, one of my responsibilities was to oversee Coast Guard Sector New York’s Container Inspections Branch. Coast Guard personnel inspect approximately 2,400 containers per year in the Ports of New York and New Jersey. On average, half of those containers inspected are hazardous materials (chemicals, lithium-ion batteries, etc.), and the other half are referred to as general cargo. With the recent uptick in shipboard fires, we knew there had to be an opportunity to be more proactive in the way we inspect containers. Leveraging 10+ years of container inspection data and information from recent shipboard fires, we created a new container targeting program to prevent these types of mishaps and increase the safety of the maritime industry. While the program has not yet been implemented Coast Guard-wide yet, we had immediate success with the program, and I look forward to seeing where it goes next.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? As I will be attending the University of Michigan on active duty, I will return to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., following graduation. As part of the Coast Guard Advanced Education program I was selected for, I am required to obligate 4-years of active-duty service when I am program-complete. This is most commonly referred to as a “payback tour.” As of now, I will be working for the Coast Guard’s Office of Facility Inspections, Waterways Management, or the Office of Ashore Forces. My intent is to use the business and operations knowledge I pick up from the MBA program to identify efficiencies in Coast Guard operations and contribute to the Coast Guard’s Data Readiness Task Force.

The Coast Guard has been very good to me and my family, so when I complete my payback tour, I would love to remain on active duty. However, I plan on staying active with the Michigan network to see what opportunities are available. Having strong ties to the maritime industry since my undergraduate years, I could see myself working in logistics, operations management, or alternative power/fuel sources for shipping.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Michigan Ross’s MBA program? Take your time to learn about the program and connect with alumni. I think the best piece of advice I received when I started researching MBA programs was to find out what the program’s value proposition is and be able to talk about it! With that, I dug into what MAP and experiential learning was all about, and I knew it was the right fit for me. If Ross appeals to you based on your research of the program, use your network to connect with Ross alumni or current students. Hearing first-hand from someone who has been through the program helped immensely when it came time to interview. If I can help you in any way, please feel free to reach out!



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