Partnerships, Progress, and Prosperity

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The most creative, innovative, and successful business leaders today are comfortable working among people of varied disciplines: scientists, engineers, designers, marketers, lawyers, investors, and people who are experts in developing human capital.

At Ross, we are fortunate to be housed within the University of Michigan, home to a robust portfolio of top-10 graduate programs. We encourage our students to collaborate with peers in world-renowned programs in engineering, medicine, natural resources, law, public health, public policy, and more. Options for collaboration are as basic as taking an elective course or as comprehensive as pursuing a dual degree (we offer 20 across campus).

These partnerships are particularly exciting for our student entrepreneurs. In September Ross hosted the annual Entrepalooza symposium, presented by our Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. Ross alum and serial entrepreneur Brad Keywell spoke to our students about his success with Groupon Inc., the popular website that utilizes social networking to enable group purchasing. Brad co-founded the venture, which in just three years has grown to 7,000 employees. But he is more than an expert in business; this entrepreneur also holds a degree from U-M Law School. When I met with Brad after his presentation, we discussed how the discipline of thought gained in law school helped him become a better entrepreneur.

Brad’s perspective echoes that of Sam Zell, who co-founded the Zell Lurie Institute at Ross and recently established the new Zell Entrepreneurship and Law (ZEAL) Program at the Law School. ZEAL will deploy student-attorneys, supervised by law faculty, to help entrepreneurs from Ross and elsewhere navigate the legal landscape that comes with new venture creation.

Another key partner set to open new avenues for Ross is the U-M College of Engineering (COE). In fall 2012, we’ll debut the Master of Entrepreneurship Program, a one-year joint offering that will deliver science- and engineering-focused courses in parallel with business-focused content. It’s an exciting opportunity to give budding entrepreneurs even more tools and confidence to become business-savvy innovators.

This arrangement with engineering builds upon a valuable relationship we’ve long enjoyed with our peers in COE through the Tauber Institute for Global Operations. Endowed by Ross alumnus Joel Tauber, this institute links our operations-oriented MBAs with engineering students in a number of action-based ventures, clubs, and programs that directly impact global industry.

This summer 33 teams of business and engineering students collaborated with faculty to resolve operations challenges inside the Boeing Co., Cardinal Health, Cisco Systems Inc., and more. The total three-year savings for this year's consulting projects are projected to reach $601 million (or an average of $18 million per project), a true manifestation of the alchemy that occurs when multiple disciplines come together in pursuit of the same goal.

These partnerships and events reinforce my conviction that a multidisciplinary perspective is an inherent element of business innovation. I'm pleased to say that at Ross, it's an inherent element of business education, as well.

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Alison Davis-Blake

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