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Real Humans of Michigan Ross’s MBA Class of 2021

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Ebrar Erdem, Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2021

Ebrar Erdem, Ross MBA Class of 2021

Age: 28
Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Bogazici University, Class of 2014, B.S. Chemical Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I worked in the pharma industry for five years in various functions and organizations. I started my journey with a global rotational leadership program where I worked in sales, marketing, and commercial excellence. During my last two and a half years, I was a Digital Project Manager, managing digital initiatives in all emerging markets and working on change management as a Marketing Excellence PMO. I was in contact with my colleagues from Brazil to China on a daily basis.

Why business school? Why now?
I have three reasons that made me realize that it was time for business school

  1. Having five years of experience in pharma in various roles helped me to build expertise in that area. For the next steps in my career, I wanted to develop a CEO’s perspective by deepening my skills in business analytics, mastering how to lead transformations, and creating powerful strategies, not just executing them.
  2. I wanted to learn from other accomplished and smart professionals from different industries, functions, and markets. Business school provides a great environment with the resources and classroom environment for this.
  3. A top business school is a door to a powerful global network. Having access to alumni, current students, and professors is invaluable throughout the career journey.

Why Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
For me, one of Ross’s unique features was the action-based curriculum. During the orientation, we worked on a real case of a real company, Amazon, in tandem with Ross Alumni Amazonians as experts. In Ross, you are never in a bubble and apply classroom learning in real business environments immediately. Another specific feature of Ross that impressed me was the MAP (Multidisciplinary Action Project).

Throughout the semester, a team of Rossers work with a client to find a solution to a real business problem. This is not only a great experience, but also gives MBAs a chance to perform and build your network within that company.

Another exciting program recently initiated by Ross is called “Pinkert Scholar,” thanks to the generous donation of Eleanor & Michael Pinkert, BSE(EE) ‘64, MBA ‘65. Selected students who are enthusiastic about healthcare business and healthcare innovation are supported with a scholarship, a mentorship program, and sponsored for national conferences and workshops.

As a proud Pinkert scholar, I realized how Ross understands students’ interests, customizes its MBA program accordingly, and supports you with various resources.

Last but not least, being in a kind, powerful, and wide network is invaluable for the next steps of my career. During my application process, I had the chance to talk to Ross alumni from the classes of 2009 and 2019 and was very impressed when I saw the sparkle in their eyes while talking about their MBA years, section mates, their MAP project, and classes.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
Working in emerging markets on innovative pharma projects means working in an ambiguous environment with people from different functions in different levels of seniority, inspiring teams, and working smartly to drive innovation in line with regulations. Therefore, my differentiating contribution would be resilience, inspiration, and outside-the-box thinking, in addition to my healthcare and emerging markets expertise.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I am a drummer and lead singer, having played in several bands until my professional life. I am hoping to go back to the stages in Ross with Risky Business!

Post-MBA career interests?
I am interested in digital strategy consulting and marketing in the technology and healthcare industries.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I talked to many MBA students and alumni during the process and listened to their story and the school they are attending/attended. This gave me a perspective beyond the websites and rankings.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would take the GMAT one year earlier since it is valid for five years. I took my GMAT in October, which gave me two months for the essays to apply in the second round while I was still working at a fast pace in my current position.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
GMAT! As a non-native English speaker, verbal was a literal nightmare for me. It was confusing to study multiple resources flying around. I ended up with my target score in October after focusing on official resources. In this process, resilience and prioritization are the keys to success for GMAT while working full-time.

What is your initial impression of Ross’s students/culture/community?
As I met my classmates during orientation week, I realized how accomplished, kind, and humble everyone is. During the sessions, students are always enthusiastic to contribute to the discussion with their expertise in various industries and geographies. Moreover, during each interaction, as an international student, I felt the inclusive culture of Ross.

One thing you have learned about Ross that has surprised you?
Ross is the most professional organization I have ever seen so far. This has been proven by post-admission online courses, orientation, and the content provided to the students face to face and online. All processes are designed in a structured way by using technology at a maximum level. This not only surprised me, but also impressed me throughout my engagement with Ross.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Like many MBA students during the orientation, I felt excited about the things I can do, joining clubs, being a part of ventures and institutions, and simultaneously a bit puzzled since there were many things to do and I needed to prioritize some of them.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am really excited to get to know over 400 amazing people from all around the world and work on a real project with MAP! I can’t wait to learn by doing! Also, I am really excited to cheer during the football games with all Wolverines! Go Blue!

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.