Grant Huizenga, MBAn '23
Growing up, Grant Huizenga, MBAn ’23, wasn’t sure what career path he wanted to pursue. His first dream was to be a football player – then, when he was a little older, he thought he might like to be a lawyer. Eventually, he settled on a goal: whatever he did, he wanted it to involve his passion for math and problem-solving.
After finishing high school, Grant decided to go to college to pursue data science. The first school he applied to was the University of Michigan.
“My dad was a Michigan fan, so growing up I was, too. My early Halloween costumes were Michigan football gear,” Grant recalled with a laugh. “I always wanted to go to Michigan, so I didn't really apply to a ton of places. It was Michigan or nothing.”
Following His Passion
Grant was thrilled to be accepted for undergrad, and completed his first degree in 2020. After graduation, he worked for a few years at National Nail, an employee-owned manufacturer in the building materials industry. When Michigan Ross launched their brand-new Master of Business Analytics Program, Grant was working full time, but found himself drawn to the program despite having no concrete plans to attend graduate school.
“At my job, I was doing data modeling and business intelligence. I was sort of like a department of one, kind of learning on the fly,” Grant explained. “When I started researching the MBAn program, I knew it was going to teach me how to connect IT to business. And I wanted to learn what the best practices were, rather than just trying to learn things on my own. The timing just worked out; I was still only two years out of school. I thought it was a great time to come back.”
Grant ultimately decided to apply, and when he was accepted, he left his job at National Nail to pursue an MBAn degree at Michigan Ross. He immediately connected with the classes and was excited to partake in the signature Michigan Ross action-based learning style.
“During my undergrad experience at U-M, I felt like the courses, especially stats courses, didn’t really teach me how to use the concepts in the real world in the way I wanted them to. During the MBAn program at Ross, on the other hand, we learned theories too, but we would have a business case directly tied to it with a relevant dataset,” Grant said.
Ross did a good job of making sure that it's not just theory, you can actually use the knowledge.
“Having a background in IT, I’m really interested in how AI and technology are going to change business, and being able to connect my technical experience with strategy and business is what I always wanted to do,” Grant said.
Learning by Doing
Courses like this one helped Grant build the experience he needed to excel in the MBAn Consulting Studio Project, a capstone course designed to test the knowledge students have gained from their classes and provide them with real-world experience to take into their careers. Grant and his group worked with a local seed company Nature and Nurture for their Studio project.
“There were companies like LinkedIn and Microsoft available for the Consulting Studio project, but I liked the idea of having an impact at a small company versus a larger corporation,” Grant said.
“We created some tools and strategies for them to help with customer retention. I feel like we had a big impact there, and I would love to do it all over again. The owners were both Michigan grads and they were so passionate. I thought it was really cool that Ross made that connection for us to work with alumni,” Grant said.
The Michigan Ross Difference
Grant recently graduated from the MBAn program and works at Procter & Gamble as a media analytics and insights manager. He credits the career resources at Michigan Ross with helping him land the role.
“Ross did a good job of recruiting and helping manage everyone’s corporate social media presence on sites like LinkedIn. There were also resume sessions and other helpful sessions that the Sanger Leadership Center put on that I went to,” Grant said.
Ross teaches you both hard and soft skills, like how to work with people and how to communicate well, that I didn't necessarily get from my undergrad experience
Looking back on his time at U-M, Grant said his advice to students joining the MBAn program is to enjoy the Michigan Ross experience to the fullest and don’t be afraid to test out what you’ve learned in class on your own.
“Getting your hands dirty is a good way of learning new things. And that's kind of what the program is, especially the technical courses,” he said. “Projects here are open-ended by design. Ross wants you to learn by doing, not just by sitting in a classroom reading a whiteboard. Don’t be scared to just be curious and try to build your own website or create projects that you want to work on while you’re here.”