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What I Did During My Week in Ann Arbor for the Transformation Residency


My trip to Ann Arbor for the Transformation Residency was my first chance to step on campus since I began the Online MBA Program at the Ross School of Business.

The Transformation Residency challenged me in ways that will not only benefit my career, but also allowed me to make new connections and build upon existing relationships.

Most of the students in town for the residency had never met in person, but it felt like we had known each other for years. Instead of saying “nice to meet you,” my in-person introductions started right where we left off from our Zoom conversations. Although we’ve never been physically together, our classes online have allowed all of us to develop a camaraderie that we felt as we prepared to tackle the week ahead.

Here are the key takeaways and highlights from my week in Ann Arbor for the residency:

Challenging myself: Getting comfortable being uncomfortable

 The majority of my career background has been in sales, and while attending the Transformation Residency, I jumped out of my comfort zone. During our business simulation, I took on the “VP of Supply Chain” role and helped lead my team toward success in turning a business around. I leaned heavily on my learnings from classes like Applied Business Statistics and Operations. Both of these courses built up my confidence for the boardroom presentation at the end of our simulation. The members of the board asked the tough questions, but by relying on my coursework, I was able to answer them with ease.

Learning from classmates is just as important

Many of the pertinent learnings and skills I gained were from my group members and classmates. When we were in a time crunch to make our business decisions and create a presentation, I saw how others handled a high-stakes situation and witnessed their industry backgrounds in action. When we reconvened at the end, I asked questions about how they completed certain tasks that required specific hard skills I may not have had prior to this experience. For example, my colleague who worked in consulting showed me how to break down complex data into PowerPoint and boil it down to an executive summary. It takes one skill to crunch the numbers and solve the problem, but if you cannot convey the message to your target audience you will not succeed in the mission. 

Grabbed Starbucks coffee and studied in the Winter Garden

winter gardenCoffee was extremely important for the week, and thankfully there was the highly anticipated Starbucks in Ross. Grabbing a quick morning coffee and being able to sit down in the Winter Garden and study allowed us to immerse ourselves in campus culture.

Walked around campus

Although we were in class, and participating in the residency for hours throughout the day, I was still able to get more than 10,000 steps in. Walking around campus with the cohort and finding University of Michigan landmarks was one of my favorite parts of the experience.

Ford factory tour

One of the best parts of Michigan Ross is the action-based learning curriculum. A highlight of the residency was applying our learnings from all of our classes to the Ford factory tour. We were given the opportunity to put our operation hats on and perform a rapid plant assessment on a major U.S. company. We were able to walk through the factory and identify opportunities for potential improvement while noting places the firm was successful. It is one thing to go through cases, but having the ability to apply in real time and on location was such a unique learning experience.

Ann Arbor Food Scene

Explored the amazing food scene

I will be the first to admit that I had Zingerman’s twice and Pizza House three times throughout my one-week stay in Ann Arbor. The feta bread at Pizza House is a must. It did not stop there. I still was able to squeeze in some of Ann Arbor’s other must-try food spots in between. My favorites included Knight’s Steakhouse, Sava’s, Fleetwood Diner, and Avalon.

(Left to right) Ryan Coleman, Kevin Hsu,
Jesse Pepperman

The Big House

What would the trip be if we went to Ann Arbor and did not experience The Big House? Attending the Michigan vs. Northern Illinois football game was the best part of the trip by far. The vibes of the stadium were electric. It was unlike anything we had ever experienced before. If you want to see the Michigan community in action, then attend a football game. The cohort really enjoyed stepping out of the classroom for the weekend and attending a sporting event together.

Joining the Michigan Ross MBA program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Coming on campus to meet my cohort for the first time was a memorable time that I will never forget. Go Blue!

Jesse Pepperman, OMBA '23