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Real Humans of the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2023

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Lamia Aroni, Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2023

Age: 30
Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka, Finance
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 6.5 years doing sales, shopper marketing, and brand management in consumer-packaged goods industry (Unilever), 8 years as a part-time English News Anchor for prime-time news at state-owned national channel (Bangladesh Television)

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I decided to pursue an MBA because I wanted change. I know it sounds cliché, but on paper I had a fast-track career at a leading CPG company which was deemed as a decent career. But I reached that point in life where I needed to take a break and see the world differently. I was driven by experimentation, exploration, and pursuit of knowledge about the world around us. I traveled to know about different cultures and perspectives and to learn about the angst, pains, and joys of people that one wouldn’t otherwise hear on news and watch in movies! An MBA at a top business school, sort of brings the entire world’s best business practices into your palms or at your fingertips. But most importantly it helps you to connect with diverse groups of people from across the world!

I also knew that not many people know about the power, potential, and grit of people from my country, Bangladesh, and from working with people from all over the world I know how talented, hardworking, and brilliant Bangladeshis are. But due to lack of opportunities the world doesn’t get to see us! My desire to prove myself and leave a mark, and passion to explore and experiment have brought me to Michigan Ross. I took a break and decided to explore my opportunities in the land of the limitless and I know I couldn’t have chosen a better place than Ross!

Why did you choose Michigan Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I learned about Ross when an alumnus from my undergrad joined Ross a few years back. He was one of the smartest from his cohort which made me believe that the school must have a lot of smart individuals like him. However, when I was doing my research during MBA admission, I learned that Ross is so much more. People often forget to mention that Ross is part of University of Michigan, which is one of the best universities globally. The university has 630,000 living alumni worldwide and as a Michigan student, I can guarantee that if one fine morning you wake up and decide to reach one of the alumni for help, she/he will help you. I learned this when I engaged with the Rossers during admission and now I am experiencing it myself. All those who I engaged with were open minded, warm, and free spirited. I eventually started watching Soojin’s vlog on YouTube, for inspiration for my MBA preparation. From her vlogs, I knew that this is the place where global management best practices are formed, preached, and executed. Also, as someone who has lived in the world’s most densely populated city, Ann Arbor seemed like a walk in the park. No seriously, there are 161 park properties in Ann Arbor. When the current students spoke about Ann Arbor, the picture of a quaint college town with a crazy sports scene, cute neighborhoods, scenic hiking trails, and an artsy and vibrant downtown was painted in front of my eyes, and I was sold.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
My background. I am a Bangladeshi girl who grew up amidst a very conservative community. Growing up, I did not have many privileges that the Westerners take for granted, yet I grew up to be free, independent, open minded, and with a passion to learn and connect with different people without making judgements. I exposed myself to free media, world news, great books, a lot of Hollywood and foreign movies and most importantly music! This allowed me to know about all the different cultures, including the western and US culture and decide that I wanted to live my life freely and on my own terms. I love being a global citizen and reaping off the benefits of globalization! As a news anchor, I got the opportunity to learn even more about the world and as a marketer I got the opportunity to offer structured solutions to day-to-day problems in people’s lives in the form of consumer goods and services. As part of Class of 2023, I come with this vast knowledge about both developing markets and developed, but most importantly about how minds of people and structure of businesses work.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I am a fan of any form of music in general, but there was a phase in my life that I was very much into rap music. If you’re a millennial, you might know this song – I can rap the full song, written/rapped by Eminem called ‘Lose Yourself’ with all the right beats and the right attitude.

Post-MBA career interests:
The best part of my job as a marketer was innovation and disruption. I loved learning about the new trends and often working on ideas that will set future trends and innovations to make lives of people better. Currently the most revolutionary and groundbreaking innovations are happening within the tech industry and thus I want to shift out of consumer-packaged goods and move to the tech industry, and work with product marketing or product management to be a part of this global revolution.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:

– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would reach out to people and shamelessly ask for help. And, I am not just referring to the business school members. I mean friends, family, colleagues – reach out to anyone and everyone you think can help. I got my friends to judge my resume, do mock interviews with me, provide me mental support so I don’t collapse during the intense preparation for MBA applications – you name it. Connect with people because they can help. Do not live in a silo.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would apply as early as possible. I was way too late in applying. The earlier you apply the higher is the chance of getting called for an interview and being offered scholarships. Make sure you start preparing way ahead of time and apply at the earliest possible round.

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Unpopular opinion- but I wouldn’t skip any of it. The MBA admission process is part of your journey to pivot to your next career goal. My advice is to plan for the worst and not try to rush anything.

What is your initial impression of Michigan Ross’s students/culture/community?
My initial impression of Ross’s students is that everyone here wants to learn. Everyone here has been successful in his/her previous career; however, they do not let their accomplishments hold them back from asking basic questions and learning from everything and anything. The culture and the community here are very free, and the social is very intense!

What is one thing you have learned about Michigan Ross that has surprised you?
That Ross is what we call in cricket an ‘All-Rounder’ business school. This means this school is good in everything! If you want to be an entrepreneur, Ross has one of the best institutes, the Zell Lurie Institute to provide you all the resources you need. If you want to specialize in healthcare, Ross’s healthcare certification and in general, its affiliation with University of Michigan and its medical science department will provide you with all the tools you need to succeed. It has something for everyone. I was surprised by this because I only focused on schools which have high tech recruitment, but I totally missed noticing that there is a large pool of consultants, investment bankers, marketers, entrepreneurs and many more graduating from Ross. If you think you have diverse career aspirations this is the school for you!

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
Yes, I was very late in applying as COVID took away multiple close people from my life and personal losses rendered me mentally incapable of preparing myself during the earlier rounds. Apart from lockdown associated with COVID, many people suffered from health issues, personal losses, and overall strains to their mental health for which the MBA application was even more difficult. However, one good thing that came out of the lockdown was that I was working virtually, and I saved a lot of time by not doing the commute to and back from work. Also, social life was nonexistent during the lockdown. Because of this I could focus more on my applications and get things down quickly.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am anxious about making risky career decisions. Recruiting keeps most of the MBA 1s busy during their first year, and I feel anxious that my recruiting journey will be even harder. However, Ross’s Career Development Office (CDO) keeps on reassuring me that my choices are very achievable, and I can achieve my goals with the help of Ross’s wide network and using the tools provided by the school. Here at Ross, it sometimes feels like the CDO staff have a side job of counseling students during their recruitment journey, and they are quite good at it!

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited about participating in all the fun Ross traditions and there are quite a few. Like starting the school year with Mtrek (students go out and enjoy themselves by doing different activities and engagements – earlier this used to be across the world, this year it was in a summer camp in Pennsylvania), the Ross (tailgate) Bus during football season, Skeeps night every Thursday (Skeeps is a local sports bar), Taste of Ross (a day full of great food!), and many more. Coming right out of a world which was in lockdown, I am very excited about engaging in all the social aspects of the school!

Lani Panico
Lani Panico joined Clear Admit as the Content Lead in 2021. Since graduating from Albright College in Reading, PA with a BA in English & Communications (Journalism Track) in 2017, she has gained experience in various areas of content and Digital Marketing. Her specialties include content editing, copy creation, and social media management.