Real Humans of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business Online MBA Program
Monique Malone, Michigan Ross Online MBA
Hometown: Flower Mound, Texas
Undergraduate Institution & Major: The Ohio State University, Political Science & French Language.
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Five years with Unilever in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry.
Why business school? Why now? Business school appealed to me at this stage in my life as I felt I had the bandwidth to support part-time studies and my career. When I first started at Unilever, it was important to me that my main focus be on getting settled in the organization and best setting myself up for success. I started my career in a rotational program called Unilever Future Leaders. As part of the program, I was often moving and quickly jumping into new capacities. The constant changes in location and roles were not ideal for graduate studies, but post completion I felt this would be the best time for me to explore my MBA.
Why the Michigan Ross Online MBA program? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? I was so fortunate that the Ross Online program became available at that exact time I began exploring MBA program options. I considered remote weekend programs but quickly ruled them out due to the extensive amount of travel. I was honestly shocked to see how few online programs are available across top business schools. Due to this, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to apply to Ross despite not being in the Ann Arbor area. This program presented the perfect opportunity to receive a top tier education while still maintaining my current role in Minneapolis, MN.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to your MBA class? Many of my classmates have extensive backgrounds in Finance and Engineering. I think my background in consumer goods and retail provides a unique and valuable perspective that might not otherwise be represented. I believe these differences in work experience as well as location will add to the rich dialogue throughout our coursework.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? While studying abroad in Paris in undergrad, I visited the Louvre nine times and saw every room! My favorite part was the apartments of Napoleon III.
Post-MBA career interests? I am really privileged to love my current job. I work on our Target business in developing how Target can best support natural and sustainable products. For me it’s rewarding to know how much we are improving sustainability and waste reduction by growing these green businesses. My short-term goal from a Ross MBA is rooted in developing a more robust skillset for problem solving, data analytics and leading cross-functional teams to drive sustainability in my current job. Long term, I aspire to lead a purpose-driven company to positively impact people’s lives and our planet. The UN has warned that we have under 12 years to enact serious environmental changes before climate change is irreversible. My current role, coupled with my passion for waste reduction, has prompted me to ask myself what I can know more of and do better now, and in this stage of my career, to drive our sustainability strategy faster.
Advice to Prospective MBA Applicants:
One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? I would absolutely do the interview portion of the application again. That was the first time I had the pleasure of meeting the program director (Patti Russo) and I was so excited to see her energy and passion for this new program. It was also immediately clear how invested she is in student’s success and ensuring this new process was as smooth as possible. One of the reasons I was so eager to join Ross was due to knowing how invested and the supportive staff are with every facet of student’s needs.
One thing you would change or do differently? I’m not sure there is something I would change, but I would say that I was encouraged to truly be myself throughout the essays and short answer samples. Instead of trying to fit my responses into what I thought the admissions committee might want to hear, I was open and authentic about my passions and what was motivating me to apply to Ross at this time in my life. This advice is something I would pass on to other prospective students who might be considering applying.
Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? It probably comes as no surprise that I would have happily skipped the standardized test. I opted to take the GRE and there is no way around the prep and studying necessary to do well on the exam. Thankfully, I found a great prep course that made studying more enjoyable and was instrumental in supporting me through the process.
Greatest highlight so far at the Michigan Ross? We have an informal Slack channel for our class and it has been very cool to connect with other classmates across the country, hear how they’re doing and support one another when coursework is challenging. Despite being virtual, the biggest highlight for me so far has been the sense of community and connectedness.
One thing about the Michigan Ross that you didn’t expect before arriving? I don’t think I expected how excited I would be to be back in the classroom again. There’s something about structured learning within a class format that I had missed. It has been wonderful to flex this learning muscle again with people who are equally motivated and passionate.
Thing you were most anxious about in your first year? I was most anxious about managing the course load in conjunction with my current job this first year. We are only through half a semester, but I am hopeful that the balancing act will get easier with time. Until then, it has definitely required some getting used to! I now need to be very intentional with scheduling and goal setting both during and outside of work. Thankfully, I have amazingly supportive family and friends who continue to encourage me along the way.
Thing you were most excited about in your first year? I am most excited about our first in-person residency. The program requires we complete three residencies in total over the course of the program and I am very excited for this first one in February. I’m looking forward to meeting my classmates in a non-virtual setting and getting to know them better. The residencies also include Full-Time, Weekend, and Evening MBAs so it will be a great opportunity to see some new faces and perspectives on the program.