Lillian Gilmour

Lillian Gilmour, MBA '17

A Strategist’s Career Transition

Army veteran and longtime government employee Lillian Gilmour came to Ross with a clear mission: to obtain an MBA and transition into the private sector. As you’d expect from a former chief strategist for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, her decision was the result of careful consideration.

I wanted to get outside the D.C. beltway and was very interested in Michigan. Ross is really strong in all areas from finance to operations, but I was really impressed with the strategy curriculum. It’s tough to find a strategy-focused MBA.

During the program, Lilly was the director of strategy and performance at the General Service Administration, an independent federal agency that supports the government by providing transportation, real estate management, and other management services. She found it easy to apply materials from class on the job.

“I used everything from my strategy classes. Gautam Ahuja and Aneel Karnani’s classes gave me frameworks to help understand what direction companies should go. Things like the 7S Framework and Porter’s Five Forces help me understand problems from different angles so I have a better idea of where to go in the future.”

Lilly’s Executive Multidisciplinary Action Project (ExecMAP) with Thermo Fisher Scientific supplied her with even more tools. Together with her team, she worked on a North American market entry strategy for process monitoring equipment. Lilly and her peers evaluated different target industries, analyzed revenue and market share, and identified three industries to pursue. Thermo Fisher Scientific moved forward with the expansion plan as a result of the ExecMAP team’s research.

“My takeaways were really helpful for GSA efforts, where I was coming up with a four-year strategic plan. ExecMAP was very useful; it gave me a different framework for evaluating external forces in the marketplace. It will be something I can use anywhere I go.”

These days, Lilly applies those skills at Accenture Strategy, where she recently started work as a strategy consultant. Lilly worked with Ross career services throughout the EMBA program to help guide her career switch.

Lilly informed career coach Donna Humphrey-Delosh about her desire to transition into consulting, and she went right to work, recommending books, conferences, and workshops. She also worked with Lilly on how to approach case interviews and set up mock interviews for practice.

“Donna was instrumental in my transition. I was at a recruiting conference and ended up in on-the-spot interviews with Hershey and Accenture. I wouldn’t have been so well-prepared without her help.”

She offers this advice to potential students looking to pivot: “If you’re looking to explore a different industry or transition into the private sector, Ross will prepare you. They have amazing pipelines directly into finance, tech, and consulting companies, just to name a few. You need to put in the effort, but it’s a no-brainer to come to Michigan Ross if you want to explore a career transition.”