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It’s Gonna Be a Long Night for Some Ross MBA Students

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Right about now, MBA and other graduate students at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business are gearing up for what could be a very long, horrible night. Each year Ross hosts two Leadership Crisis Challenges, one in January for graduate students and another in March for undergrads. The Graduate Student Crisis Challenge kicks off today, January 11th, at 5 p.m. 

The concept of the challenge itself is relatively simple. Students are divided into teams of four to six and given 24 hours to work together to address a problem facing a company. But they are handed the reins and told to assume executive leadership roles just as the company’s crisis begins quickly spiraling out of control, and what at first seemed simple can soon turn nightmarish.

Of course, that’s by design. The Leadership Crisis Challenge is intended to give Ross MBA and other graduate students an opportunity to experience what could potentially be the worst day of their entire careersand take their best shot at turning things around.

The 180 intrepid students who signed up to take part in this year’s Leadership Crisis Challenge, which is developed and led by the Sanger Leadership Center, will be gathering in the Ross Colloquium in a matter of hours to learn just what they’re in for. After they’re told about the disaster that has befallen their imaginary company, the teams will receive a deluge of emails, social media updates, phone calls, and more to keep them updated on the evolving crisisand 24 hours to come up with a fix. The high-pressure, high-stakes environment is intended to simulate the type of scenario they could very likely find themselves in as future business leaders.

Along the way, they’ll be called upon to put some of the fledgling skills they’re developing as business school students to the test, skills like navigating ambiguity, exercising good judgment, performing under pressure, and adapting to turbulence.

Tomorrow morning, they’ll report to Michigan Stadium where they’ll present their response plan to the company’s board of directors (role-played by distinguished Michigan alumni and friends). And tomorrow afternoon they’ll face the public along with real journalists during an intense press conference. Fortunately, they’ll benefit along the way from personalized feedback from business leaders, communication coaches, and faculty experts.

When all’s said and done, three finalist teams will be rewarded for their performance under pressure. The winning team will receive $3,000 and each runner-up team, $1,000. The Leadership Crisis Challenge is made possible through support from PNC Bank.

And for anyone interested in how things unfold, stay tuned to the Ross News Blog for continuing real-time updates. Good luck Rossies!

Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.