Meet the Five Michigan Ross MBAs Honored as the ‘Best & Brightest’ of 2022 by Poets&Quants
Each year, Poets&Quants compiles its lists of the ‘Best & Brightest’ students from MBA programs around the world based on their backgrounds and experiences in business school. This year, from Michigan Ross, Sam Buck, MBA ’22, and Alexia Sabogal, MBA ’22, made the Full-Time MBA list, and Manuel Herrera, BS ’09/MBA ’22; Brad Kohlmeyer, MBA ’22; and Leslie Patch, MBA ’22 made the Online MBA list.
Below, learn more about these standout Ross MBAs and what earned them the title of ‘Best & Brightest’ by P&Q.
Prior to starting the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Program, Buck was the associate director of the Business School Fund at Stanford Graduate School of Business. In that role, he had the ability to audit classes, so he sat in on a strategic philanthropy class which inspired him to start looking into MBA programs where he could broadly explore the intersection of business and impact. Buck said Michigan Ross, with its Business+Impact initiative, was the natural choice.
Buck’s passion for sustainability and impact led him to co-found the Michigan Climate Venture, a student-run investment fund at the University of Michigan that supports early-stage climate tech companies that have the potential to make a real difference on climate change. Buck said that one of his top professional goals is to help increase philanthropic giving to environmental causes from 3% to 10% or more, a goal that he will work toward in his post-grad career as the senior manager of development at ReFED.
“My grand slam career is working to reduce emissions while also improving the standard of living for those that need a helping hand to get back on their feet,” said Buck.
Before enrolling at Michigan Ross, Sabogal worked for Major League Soccer as a senior coordinator on the Brand Alliances team. Her colleague at the time, Angad Banga, MBA ’20, was just starting the process of applying to business school, and seeing his successful transition from the sports industry to Michigan Ross, gave Sabogal the courage to apply herself.
Sabogal was drawn to Michigan Ross for its community and culture. As a prospective student with intersecting identities, it was important for her to see representation on campus and also feel supported.
Sabogal said that her proudest accomplishment at Michigan Ross was launching the first Sports Tech Conference in 2021 as a Business+Tech fellow. She led a group of seven other MBA students to launch the conference, securing nearly 50 speakers and panelists from top companies across the sports and tech industries, including Google and FanDuel, and attracting over 500 virtual attendees.
After graduation, Sabogal plans to join McKinsey & Co. as a marketing and sales associate.
“Now transitioning into consulting, I look forward to prioritizing projects that promote racial equity and volunteering in the local community in my new home,” she said. “This aspect of volunteering and social impact keeps me grounded as I advance in my career.”
A first-generation college student with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan, Herrera chose Michigan Ross for the school’s academic reputation, its extensive alumni network, impactful action-based curriculum, and high-caliber students that are admitted to the programs.
As part of the inaugural Michigan Ross OMBA cohort and vice president of the student council, Herrera enjoyed having the opportunity to exercise his leadership skills to shape the future of the program.
“As a result of the commitment by faculty, administrators, and student engagement, many improvements have been adopted and are constantly being evaluated,” he said.
Herrera noted that his coursework helped him to better understand the various aspects of business and how they intersect, and many of the lessons learned were immediately applicable in the real world.
“My favorite part of the program was how much growth I experienced from being a student while actively employed,” said Herrera, who accepted a promotion to vice president at Plante Moran Cresa several months ahead of graduation from the OMBA program.
For Kohlmeyer, the challenge of balancing life and career made the Michigan Ross Online MBA Program a perfect fit.“The growth of my career and family had kept me from ever fully committing to an MBA,” he said.
While Kohlmeyer valued interacting with other exceptional Michigan Ross students from across industries, he said strengthening his business skills really helped him advance his career at Boulder-based lawn care startup, Sunday. During the program, he went from director of financial planning and analysis to director of finance to his current position as vice president of finance.
“Within my specific role, my technical skills are significantly stronger for having gone through the program,” said Kohlmeyer. “The real value though is in the breadth of the material. I am better informed on most areas of the business and have a new perspective on how they are connected. It allows me to find opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Having already obtained her doctor of medicine degree from Brown University Medical School, Patch credits the Michigan Ross Online MBA Program with helping her to successfully transition out of clinical practice and into a patient safety role at a gene therapy biotech firm and then to medical director at Johnson and Johnson Surgical Vision.
Patch noted that the principles and frameworks she learned at Michigan Ross — in particular those related to operations, strategy, and marketing — have been especially valuable in her current leadership position.
“Ultimately, I have observed that the best problem solving occurs in diverse team settings and business school helped me view these problems from different perspectives,” she said.