Commencement Speaker

Chip Conley

Chip Conley
Strategic Advisor for Hospitality & Leadership, Airbnb

Bestselling author, hospitality entrepreneur, disruptive business rebel, and social change agent, Chip Conley is a leader at the forefront of the sharing economy. At age 26, the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality took an inner city motel and turned it into the 2nd largest boutique hotel brand in the world. Inspired by psychologists Maslow and Frankl, Chip’s books, PEAK and the New York Times bestseller EMOTIONAL EQUATIONS, share his own theories on transformation and meaning in business and life.

Chip was CEO of his innovative company for 24 years. In 2013 he accepted an invitation from the founders of Airbnb to help transform a promising home sharing start-up into what is today the world’s largest hospitality brand. As Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy, Chip taught his award-winning methods to hundreds of thousands of Airbnb hosts in nearly 200 countries, and created the Airbnb Open that brings thousands together in a global festival of belonging (he transitioned to a part-time role as Strategic Advisor for Hospitality and Leadership in January 2017). Chip founded Fest300 in 2013 to share his passion for travel and the world’s best festivals (the company merged with Everfest in 2016 where he is part-time Chief Strategy Officer).

Chip has received hospitality’s highest honor, the Pioneer Award, joining industry icons Marriott, Kimpton and Wynn. He is the founder of the Celebrity Pool Toss, which has raised millions for the Tenderloin neighborhood where he opened his first hotel, and San Francisco’s Hotel Hero Awards that shine a light on the unsung heroes serving hotel guests every day. Chip holds a BA and MBA from Stanford University, and an honorary doctorate in psychology from Saybrook University. He serves on the boards of the Burning Man Project and the Esalen Institute

Student Speakers

BBA, MAcc, & MM Student Speaker

Julia came to the University of Michigan to explore her interests in business, healthcare, and information technology. At Ross, she held leadership positions in multiple organizations, worked as a teaching assistant for four BBA courses, and served as a Career Services Peer Coach. She also interned at Audax Group Private Equity, The MathWorks, Imprivata, and most recently Salesforce. Julia credits much of her personal and professional growth to Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity. Throughout her experiences at Michigan, she has built relationships with peers and professors that she knows will last a lifetime. After graduation, she will be backpacking through Southeast Asia. Julia thanks her family and friends for their relentless optimism, unwavering support, and unconditional love. 

Brianna Brazell

MBA & PhD Student Speaker

Originally from Utah, Brianna completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology and economics at Vassar College. After graduating, she worked in financial planning and analysis at Willis Group Holdings in New York City. Brianna came to the University of Michigan to explore the possibilities of business as an agent of positive change and to complete a dual degree through the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. During her three years at Michigan Ross and the School of Natural Resources, she has focused on social entrepreneurship and economic development. She is grateful to her friends, family, and classmates for helping to shape an experience here that has forever changed her.  


Class of 2017 Recognition Awards

Student award recipients were selected by their graduating peers for being exemplary role models who display continuous dedication to the Ross School of Business.

The Frank S. Moran Distinguished Leadership Awards are presented to two graduating students who have made outstanding contributions to improve the business school experience for students, staff, and faculty, and have been active in all aspects of the Michigan Ross community. One award is given to a student in a graduate program, and another award is given to a BBA student. Both are supported by a special endowment honoring Frank Sullivan Moran. Frank Moran was not just a successful business leader; he also was a philosopher and educator who cared deeply about helping people.

The Ross Global Citizenship Community Service Awards are presented annually to the graduating students who have made exemplary contributions to their community — both at Michigan Ross and beyond. Each award recipient designates the charity of his or her choice to which the award stipend will be donated. Conceived in 1998 by students of the Ross Global Citizenship Club, this award is supported by an endowment created through gifts from club members, students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The Michigan Ross Outstanding Leadership Awards recognize graduating MBA students who have made impactful contributions and demonstrated outstanding achievement within the Master of Management, Master of Accounting, Global MBA, Evening MBA, or Weekend MBA programs. The Sanger Leadership Center is the first sponsor of this new award. Sanger's mission is to build a more connected, creative, and prosperous world, one leader at a time.

Hussein Hakim // BBA ’17
Undergraduate Frank S. Moran Leadership Award
Hussein is a dual-degree student in business and chemistry from Franklin, Mich. During his time at the University of Michigan he has sought to engage his peers to create an impact in the broader university community. As President of BOND Consulting, he worked alongside fellow undergraduates in assisting local Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit businesses to achieve their goals. He also served as Business Manager of The Michigan Daily, leading the student operated newspaper in its 126th consecutive year of financial independence. After graduation, Hussein will be moving to Chicago to begin his career with McKinsey & Company. 

Holly Price ​ // MBA ’17
Graduate Frank S. Moran Leadership Award
After graduating from the University of Texas and working as a technology consultant for six years, Holly came to Michigan Ross to explore entrepreneurship and social impact. She served as President of the Entrepreneur & Venture Club, led the education team on the Social Venture Fund, led a Detroit Revitalization & Business Impact Project for a charter school in Detroit, traveled to India for an entrepreneurship and nonprofit MAP, and interned for an education nonprofit through the Education Pioneers Fellowship. As a Zell Lurie Institute Scholar and TechArb Student Venture Accelerator Fellow, Holly founded Sage & Grace, a digital marketplace to help grieving families navigate funeral planning. Upon graduation, Holly will join McKinsey & Company’s Houston practice. Holly is also a member of The Consortium, an alliance of business students committed to increasing the representation of underrepresented minorities in business schools and management. 

Sushmita Mukherjee // BBA ’17
Global Citizenship Award
Sushmita hails from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Her Michigan Ross experience has been defined by her involvement on campus. Her proudest achievement is successfully founding and growing the University’s chapter of Lean In, which is dedicated to empowering women of all backgrounds to reach their goals. She has also been actively involved in sustainability efforts as a Graham Sustainability Scholar and through the student organization Net Impact. Finally, as an international student herself, she has motivated students to study abroad and take advantage of international opportunities through her work in the Global Initiatives office as a Peer Advisor. After graduation, Sushmita will work for the management consulting firm Bain & Company in Chicago. A donation will be made to Arun Aashray, an orphanage for abandoned children in Pune, India.

Aaron J. Steiner // MBA ’17
Global Citizenship Award
Aaron is graduating with emphases in healthcare and entrepreneurship. Aaron served as President of the Give-A-Day Fund, a student-led philanthropic initiative; led the healthcare team on the Social Venture Fund, a student-led impact investing fund; participated in Ross Open Road, a five-week program pairing MBA student teams with social entrepreneurs across the U.S.; and took first place in the Social Impact Track of the Michigan Business Challenge representing AIM Tech, a medical device company focused on emerging markets. He was also a +LAB Fellow at the Center for Positive Organizations and a Zell Lurie Institute Scholar. Aaron earned his bachelor’s at the University of Notre Dame and will join Deloitte’s Strategy & Operations practice in Chicago. As part of the award, Aaron selected Brightmoor Maker Space, a Detroit-based organization where youth build creative

Amber Michelle Blanks // MAcc ’17
Michigan Ross Outstanding Leadership Award
Amber Michelle Blanks earned her BBA from the Ross School of Business in 2016 and is graduating with her Masters of Accounting. Amber was involved in several Ross programs, including The Preparation Initiative, which helps under-resourced college freshmen gain the business skills and knowledge needed to apply to Ross and MREACH, a program exposing high school students to business concepts and preparation for college applications. Amber was also Philanthropy Co-Chair for the Master of Accounting Student Association, working with Cornerstone School in Detroit to help middle and high school students prepare for college. After graduation, Amber will work at Ernst & Young’s Detroit office. 

Ignacio Estrada // MM ’17
Michigan Ross Outstanding Leadership Award
Ignacio came to the University of Michigan after working for two years in Caterpillar’s Rail Division to pursue a dual-master’s degree in management and mechanical engineering. At Ross, he sought to explore the field of operations management, which ultimately led him to join the Tauber Institute for Global Operations, where he was President of the Student Advisory Board. Next summer he will be working at Whirlpool, where he plans to leverage his experiences at Ross and newly acquired skills to improve manufacturing operations. Ignacio knows that he owes much of his success to Ross faculty, his peers in the Masters of Management program, his girlfriend, as well as his family, and wants to thank them for their unconditional support throughout his time at Michigan.

Elizabeth Graves // Weekend MBA ’17
Michigan Ross Outstanding Leadership Award
Elizabeth Graves is a North Carolina native, born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains. After earning a BA in International Politics from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, she joined a boutique lithium battery company and ended her time there as the Senior Logistics Manager. During her time at Ross, Elizabeth co-chaired the Future of Mobility Conference as an Auto Club board member, studied abroad in Vienna, and earned second place in the Shinola Case Competition. Post-graduation, Elizabeth will join M&T Bank in Corporate Procurement. She also speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and enjoys gardening, traveling internationally, and supporting the tourism industry of her new home state of New York.

Leo (Ryo) Sanada // Global MBA ’17
Michigan Ross Outstanding Leadership Award
Leo came to the University of Michigan after working for nine years in Mitsubishi Corporation’s Financial Business Division for the Ross Global MBA program, which consists of 30 students who spend the first four months of coursework in Asia. In the Asia session, he organized class activities, and he was chosen by his peers to be the class President. While at Ross in Ann Arbor, he focused on entrepreneurship and took advantage of amazing resources across the university. Leo knows that unconditional support from the Ross faculty, his peers, and family has helped him be successful in his studies

Faculty Awards

The Neary Teaching Excellence Awards are selected by the student body in recognition of outstanding contributions to their academic learning experience at Michigan Ross. All awards are presented at the respective program’s commencement celebration. The stipends that accompany the awards are made possible by the generosity of Robert D. Neary, BBA ’55, and Janet E. Neary, AB ’54. Mr. Neary’s career spanned 38 years with Ernst & Young, and both he and Mrs. Neary have been actively involved with the University since graduation. The Nearys’ support of these awards affirms their belief that teaching excellence is largely “the ability to make the pursuit of knowledge an exciting endeavor…the kind of excitement that is contagious and long-lasting.” 

Hyun Soo Ahn
Global MBA Teaching Excellence Award

  • Michael R. and Mary Kay Hallman Fellow
  • Professor of Technology and Operations
  • Faculty Director, Master Supply Chain Management
Hyun-soo Ahn is a Professor of Operations and Management Science at the Michigan Business School. He joined Michigan in 2003 from the department of...

Gautam Ahuja
Full-Time MBA Teaching Excellence Award
PhD Teaching Excellence Award

  • Harvey C. Fruehauf Professor of Business Administration
  • Professor of Strategy
  • Faculty Director of India Initiatives
Professor Ahuja's research interests focus on competitive analysis, innovation, globalization and the use of mergers, acquisitions and alliances...

John Branch
MM Teaching Excellence Award

  • Academic Director of Part-Time MBA Programs and Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Ross School of Business
  • Faculty Associate, Center for Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies
Professor Branch currently teaches a variety of marketing and international business courses at the undergraduate, M.B.A., and executive levels, and...

Mary Hinesly
BBA Teaching Excellence Award

  • Lecturer of American Business History
  • Lecturer of Business Communication
Mary D. Hinesly is on the faculty of the Law, History, & Communications Department at the Ross School of Business. Professor Hinesly received her...

Wally Hopp
Weekend MBA Teaching Excellence Award

  • C.K. Prahalad Distinguished University Professor of Business and Engineering
  • Associate Dean for Learning Design
  • Professor of Technology and Operations
  • Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering
Wallace J. Hopp's research focuses on the design, control and management of operations systems, with emphasis on manufacturing and supply chain...

MP Narayanan
Executive MBA Teaching Excellence Award

  • Robert Morrison Hoffer Professor of Business Administration
  • Professor of Finance
Professor Narayanan's current research focuses on corporate governance. In particular, his research with Nejat Seyhun has been instrumental in...

Eric Svaan
Evening MBA Teaching Excellence Award

  • Lecturer of Technology and Operations
Eric Svaan has taught a wide variety of Operations Management courses in MBA, MSCM, BBA and executive programs at the University of Michigan since...

Robert Totte
MAcc Teaching Excellence Award

  • Lecturer of Accounting