Mariam Jalloul, MBA/MPH ’19: Applying Business Strategies to Public Service
From a young age, Mariam Jalloul, MBA/MPH ’19, knew she wanted a career in public service to help improve lives.
Now, as the chief strategy officer for her hometown — the City of Dearborn, MI — her job is ensuring that the local government's day-to-day work meets its residents' needs and working toward its long-term strategy, vision, and mission. “Government has historically played a significant role in perpetuating many of the inequities we see in our country,” said Jalloul. “I’m incredibly passionate about creating policies and providing services that undo those inequities, level the playing field, and make our world more just and equitable.”
From Ann Arbor to Capitol Hill
Jalloul came to the University of Michigan in 2016 to pursue her master’s in public health. However, she felt that there were many crucial skills she hadn’t honed around marketing, finance, and business. So, she applied to the Ross School of Business and became a dual-degree student, graduating with a dual MPH and MBA in the spring of 2019.
What set the Michigan Ross program apart for me was the ability to apply what we learned in the classroom in real-world situations while we were in school,” said Jalloul. “Looking back, my MBA was the perfect degree to add to my public health toolset to give me a holistic approach to my career.
After graduation, with the goal of working in federal policy, Jalloul booked a one-way ticket to Washington, D.C., and began knocking on doors of her extensive U-M network, ultimately landing an internship with the House Appropriations Committee. From there, she worked her way up, accepting a position as a policy advisor in Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s office and eventually joining Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office as legislative director.
Jalloul spent three years in Washington, D.C. during a historic time. “It was a peculiar time in our country’s history. I twice witnessed an impeachment of a president. I saw our Capitol ransacked by insurrectionists. I was there when we built momentum around policies that would help people thrive and scale impact in our federal policymaking.”
However, in 2022, when Abdullah Hammoud, MBA ’19, was elected mayor of Dearborn, Jalloul received a call that would bring her home to Michigan.
A Michigan Ross connection
Jalloul knew Hammoud from her time at Michigan Ross. While she was a Full-Time MBA student, he was enrolled in the Evening MBA Program. They had competed against each other in the Michigan Business Challenge, studied and discussed their classes together, and attended the same graduation ceremony at Crisler Arena.
When Hammoud secured the mayorship, he offered Jalloul a position in his administration as chief strategy officer for the City of Dearborn.
“As much as I loved my job in D.C., the thought of leveraging all my knowledge and skill sets in service of home — in service of my community — felt like its own historic moment that I couldn’t pass up.”
Applying business strategies for the City of Dearborn
Coming home to Dearborn, Jalloul felt confident that the business skills and acumen she had honed at Michigan Ross would help her succeed in her new role.
“When you transition from federal government to local government, you’re no longer just focused on creating policies to improve people’s lives,” said Jalloul. “You’re also responsible for providing services, managing people, and ensuring a balanced budget. The classes I took at Ross — specifically on managing organizations, operational efficiency, and business strategy — have been integral to my role as chief strategy officer for the city.”
Since starting in her new position a year ago, Jalloul has been putting together a long-term strategic plan for the City of Dearborn, which has never been done before. She has been speaking directly with residents, community leaders, organizations, and businesses to set strategic, measurable goals. As part of her role, she has also identified and tackled operational inefficiencies, cost allocation, and organizational strategy throughout the city’s departments.
My Michigan Ross degree was pivotal for my career — it’s integral in local government to be responsible stewards of tax-payer dollars and be able to identify operational inefficiencies, cost allocation, and subsidizing of services, all of which I honed in business school.
Stay true to your internal compass
Having worked in both federal and local government, Jalloul feels confident in her career path in public service and hopes to continue serving her community and home.
To others who are finding their career paths, Jalloul advises pursuing what gives them a sense of purpose in the world rather than a specific career title, company, or organization. “When you follow your internal compass, your career trajectory will always stay true to who you are, and you’ll succeed.”