Real Humans of the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2023
Hometown: New York, NY (mostly)
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Harvard University, Comparative Literature
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 10 years, theatrical management
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
While I’m proud that I lived my dream of working on Broadway for ten years, and truly value the impact that theater can have on society, I was increasingly drawn to a career where I could have a more direct impact on my community. For me, that means a pivot to tech. I was born before the 90s and have grown up in parallel with technology, watching it become increasingly integrated in our daily lives. I’m moved by the impact it’s already had on improving equitable access to services and information, and I’m excited about the implications that further innovation has for our future. I want to contribute to this greater good, and the best way I can do that is with the management skills I’ve been developing. I knew from many years of informational interviews what an asset an MBA would be in a career change, and how it would not only accelerate my pivot, but strengthen my analytical skills, expand my knowledge of business operations and strategy, and refine my leadership skills. Having finally earned my “dream job” in theater, I felt I had accomplished what I’d set out to do in my first career–and I was ready to start my next chapter.
Why did you choose Michigan Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Michigan Ross has everything I was looking for. First, a compassionate community of impact-driven change makers who are genuinely invested in each others’ success. Second, a curriculum that balances theory and case studies with action-based learning (special shout-out to MAP, which is essentially a second internship during your first year–a true boon for this career changer!). Third, the in-depth leadership training offered by the Sanger Leadership Center that doesn’t prescribe one “best” leadership style, but rather brings out the best in individuals’ styles. I’m only a few weeks into my first year, and I’m thrilled to say I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Go Blue!
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
This is tough! The wide variety of backgrounds and goals represented here means that everyone has something differentiating to contribute. My hope is that others find valuable my experience on Broadway managing businesses top-to-bottom, inception-to-closing, and even through an unprecedented pandemic-induced shutdown. Broadway had not shut down for more than a few days in 40+ years, and I suddenly needed to provide stability and security for my company in the face of uncertainty. It was a rough year, and I have plenty of business stories to share as a result.
Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
It’s possible I was the first person to sing on the Feinstein’s/54 Below stage–in the middle of the night during the final stages of construction, prior to opening! (I say “it’s possible” because I’m not sure if someone else also secretly gave a late-night performance to the ghosts of the historic Studio 54.)
Post-MBA career interests:
I’m making a big pivot from Broadway to the tech industry, so my immediate post-MBA goal is to immerse myself in the tech industry however I can. My long-term goal is to change the face of healthcare–leveraging technology to make it more accessible and equitable around the world–and be someone any CEO could call their COO, and any VC firm would be comforted to see when doing due diligence on a start-up.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Really soul-search before applying to discern what you want to get out of business school professionally and personally, and then talk to students and alumni at the schools that interest you so that you can find your best fit.
– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would be more confident being completely myself in my application. I was, but it took me many tries, isn’t that silly? It’s true that Michigan Ross really wants to see the real you–REALLY!
– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I hate bragging about myself and found it so challenging to determine what about my professional experience would be interesting or exciting, let alone impressive, to others. Fortunately, I had the best support network I could ever have asked for, which helped me tease out the best stories from my career for my application and cheered me on throughout the process.
What is your initial impression of Michigan Ross’s students/culture/community?
Everyone is amazing.
What is one thing you have learned about Michigan Ross that has surprised you?
I was surprised by how structured and in-depth the Career Development Office’s (CDO’s) summer recruiting prep program was. The CDO’s framework made my initial approach to a career change feel much more manageable. It also ensured that I arrived on campus with a strong foundation to build upon while simultaneously juggling the competing priorities of business school.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
100%. Leading a company through COVID-19 expedited my experience of a lot of business challenges that I didn’t expect to have prior to business school and refined my MBA goals, especially in terms of my goals for leadership growth.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Ambiguity is not a comfortable space for me, but it’s where first-year students spend most of their time, constantly managing pursuits of parallel plans and unsure which will work out. As a business leader, though, I’ll need to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, so I appreciate the practice!
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Surprising myself. Who can I be if I intentionally confront the things that scare me? Michigan Ross is the best place to do this because the community is so supportive and there are countless opportunities to experiment, reflect, and try again. So, I promised myself that every time I think an opportunity “isn’t me,” I have to go for it!