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Immersing Themselves in ExecMAP: Executive MBAs Work on Projects for Wide Range of Companies

Photo of Michigan Ross students and sponsor standing in the Microsoft office.

Executive MBA students at the Ross School of Business recently provided their strategic recommendations to sponsoring companies’ leadership teams as part of their Executive Multidisciplinary Action Projects course.


During ExecMAP, a unique feature of the Michigan Ross Executive MBA curriculum, students work in teams to solve complex business challenges for sponsoring organizations. Nineteen ExecMAP projects were conducted by EMBA students this term, with a diverse mix of sponsors, including those in the technology, entertainment, healthcare, and operations spaces, as well as non-governmental organizations.

Shruti Jolly, MD/MBA ’24; Ganesh Gopal Masti Jayaram, MBA ’24; Viswanathan Balakrishnan, MBA ’24; Matthew Cosby, MBA ’24; Nathanael Meyr, MBA ’24; and Titus Potter, MBA ’24 worked on a project sponsored by Microsoft Corp. to develop a framework that would assess artificial intelligence training and retraining needs in the healthcare sector and address the AI skills gap through a strategic upskilling program.

The ExecMAP Experience

When deciding which ExecMAP project to work on, members of the team agreed that the opportunity to explore the transformative role of AI and work with a tech industry leader like Microsoft made the project an attractive choice.

Photo of Viswanathan Balakrishnan, Michigan Ross EMBA student wearing a gray suit with a white shirt and a red tie.
Viswanathan Balakrishnan, MBA ’24

“We live in an era that is being empowered by artificial intelligence with economic impact and revenues forecasted in multiple trillions of dollars over the next five years,” said Balakrishnan. “The tremendous potential of AI across industries, and how it will shape the next industrial revolution of how we live and work, made this so exciting for me.”

Facing a rapidly evolving field and changing AI educational products, the team knew early on that they would need to take a holistic approach. Extensive consultations with CEOs in healthcare, education, and business provided them with a deeper understanding of the workforce gap in AI expertise and allowed them to fully immerse themselves in the project.

“To address challenges, we proposed an online module offering updated information, catering to diverse backgrounds for customized AI education,” said Jolly. “This adaptive approach ensured the project’s relevance and effectiveness across all industries, not just healthcare.”

Photo of Shruti Jolly, Michigan Ross EMBA student wearing a black suit with a black shirt.
Shruti Jolly, MD/MBA ’24

The team delivered to Microsoft the LEADERS framework, a versatile blueprint for AI integration that Balakrishnan explained will be a valuable tool for skilling and upskilling for academia, industries, and professionals across domains applicable to executives, managers, and frontline staff. 

“The deliverables from MAP were a comprehensive report and presentation that included an overview of the AI skills gap, a proposed framework for an AI curriculum, and recommendations on how to close the AI skills gap,” said Dr. David Rhew, project sponsor, and global chief medical officer and vice president of healthcare at Microsoft. “These outputs not only provide Microsoft with valuable insights, they will also benefit educational institutions, employers, government agencies, and future AI workers in healthcare and across other industries.”

Enhancing their Michigan Ross education through ExecMAP

Working with peers from diverse backgrounds gives EMBA students the opportunity to expand their knowledge outside of their respective industries and functions to broaden their perspective of business leadership. The Microsoft ExecMAP team was made up of professionals in consulting, education, account management, product management, and healthcare.

Photo of Matthew Cosby, Michigan Ross EMBA student wearing a navy blue suit and a light blue shirt
Matthew Cosby, MBA ’24

“I worked with a group of talented individuals who brought their respective backgrounds and industry knowledge to the table to provide a comprehensive solution to the challenge of how AI will impact the global workforce in years to come,” said Cosby.

Synthesizing and applying classroom knowledge in an actual business context is the heart of the action-based ExecMAP experience at Michigan Ross. Students are able to utilize these same strategic thinking skills when faced with current and future high-impact situations.

ExecMAP enriched my MBA experience by providing a practical application of the theoretical concepts learned in class, specifically strategy and innovation management,” said Ganesh Masti. “It honed my leadership, strategic thinking, and project management skills.

Benefitting from the curriculum and collaboration at Ross

“Michigan Ross has fostered a collaborative environment and prepared me for the complexities of the modern workforce,” said Jolly. “I’m grateful for the skills, insights, and relationships I’ve gained here, and I’m excited to apply them to future endeavors.”

Knowing that AI will play a big part in business moving forward, having this unique opportunity to explore its capabilities and implications contributed to the team members’ versatility and effectiveness as leaders.

Photo of Ganesh Masti, Michigan Ross EMBA student wearing a dark gray suit jacket with a gray sweater
Ganesh Masti, MBA '24

“I gained invaluable insights into strategic problem-solving and innovation in workforce development,” said Ganesh Masti. “It enhanced my ability to lead complex projects and craft solutions that bridge the gap between current skills and future industry demands. The experience of collaborating with a leading tech giant on AI initiatives has sharpened my strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and innovation skills. This unique exposure, combined with my focus on healthcare, positions me well for shaping the future of AI applications in this vital industry, paving the way for leadership roles in technology and management consulting.” 

Additionally, sponsor organizations benefit from having an experienced team of professionals focused on their high-stakes business challenges and opportunities.

“Over the course of the project, they identified their respective roles and worked together as a team,” said Rhew. “Respect for each other’s opinions, disciplined execution, and personal accountability enabled their success. It was such a pleasure and honor to work with the Ross EMBA team.”

Sampling of ExecMAP projects

Entrepreneurship Academy - Develop a strategic plan to expand entrepreneurship education within international, third-level institutions for Dublin-based Entrepreneurship Academy.

James Beard Foundation - Identify obstacles and develop a model for what an equitable, sustainable, and financially viable restaurant would look like for the James Beard Foundation.

Othakarhaka Foundation - Formulate a strategic plan and roadmap to create and scale two stand-alone, income-generating, entrepreneurial businesses in Malawi for Othakarhaka Foundation.

Michigan Medicine - Develop a business case and a strategic plan for the creation of a rare disease therapeutics center for Michigan Medicine.

Warner Bros. - Formulate a strategy for setting up animation production hubs in overseas territories for Warner Bros.

Syon Capital - Create an alternative investment program for clients for Syon Capital, a San Francisco-based wealth management firm. 

Documents & Links
Learn more about the Michigan Ross Executive MBA Program