Aide Cedillo

Aide Cedillo, MBA ’24

Elevating Her Leadership Skills

From a young age, Aide Cedillo had a passion for problem solving. She excelled at math and science, and she loved to innovate and create. Engineering just made sense to her.

Intent on following her dream of pursuing a career in engineering, Aide left her hometown of Brownsville, TX after high school to attend the University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, MI. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering before going on to earn a master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering at the University of Michigan - Dearborn

Aide worked at the Ford Motor Company for eight years before moving to Steelcase, where she is currently employed as an IT product data manager. For years, Aide thrived at Steelcase, rising through the ranks and constantly pushing herself to learn and improve. In 2020, however, she found herself faced with a new challenge when the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

Leading Through Unprecedented Times

“For many years pre-pandemic, I had been a part of leadership training programs where I acquired the skills and frameworks needed to be an effective leader,” Aide said. “Post-pandemic, however, I realized that our world of work had changed and so had the way we needed to lead and inspire our employees.”

Determined to address gaps in her business skills to become a more impactful leader, Aide decided to look into getting her MBA. The first place she thought to look was Michigan Ross. 

“I thought about my past experience with the University of Michigan, with the professors and their ability to combine research and current events in the curriculum,” Aide said. “I wanted to learn how to enhance my existing leadership skills via the Michigan Model of Leadership framework to start making forward-thinking, strategic business decisions needed to help shape my company’s future.”

After some research, Aide decided that Michigan Ross’s Executive MBA program sounded like a great fit for her. She applied, was accepted, and began the program in Ann Arbor. As she began taking classes, Aide was excited to find that the program exceeded her expectations.

Michigan Ross is not only helping me grow as a leader, but also helping me grow my team and contribute to my company at a higher level.

“The professors have a great room presence; they have an artistic ability to pull you into the topic that they're teaching that day,” Aide said. “Before you know it, you're participating and you don't even realize it. You find yourself providing your point of view, and then you're adding on to somebody else's point of view, and sometimes you're challenging it. The entire cohort is just so open to that. You're able to be vulnerable and excited about what you're learning.”

Finding Community and Connections

One thing Aide says has surprised her about the EMBA program is the level of support and recognition offered to students. In her case, she says she’s found that there is a very strong and supportive community of women in business.

“With my background in manufacturing and operations, I would say what was so surprising to me is the amount of effort that the program has put in to strengthen its network of women,” Aide said. 

We’ve set time aside during our residency to connect and share stories, experiences, and lessons learned. It’s been wonderful to create that strong foundation with the women of the EMBA program.

Aide says being an effective leader isn’t just about cultivating the skills to manage a team, it’s also about understanding the people you work alongside, something she has enjoyed doing with her EMBA cohort.

Going forward, Aide says she is excited to finish the EMBA program and use her degree to excel at Steelcase and succeed as a transformational leader. More than anything else, she says she is excited to continue collaborating with her cohort, even after their program ends.

“We are all so different, but I can't see myself without these people in my network anymore, now that I know them,” Aide said. “We got so close so fast, and it's been an amazing experience so far for me. At the end of the day, we are going to come out as one team.”