Omar Ebarb, MBA '24
Omar began his career in the U.S. Air Force, where he served six years as an aircraft maintenance officer. Following this experience, he also spent 17 years with the U.S. Air Force Reserve, where he served as a judge advocate and ultimately attained the rank of colonel.
“The military impacted everything about me and who I am,” Omar said. “It’s difficult to come out of that experience without your perception about life being changed. I think that the military instills in you a drive and a sense of obligation; a belief that we can't just stand by the sidelines, we have to lead and engage.”
This mentality, along with a lifelong passion for writing and communication, drove Omar to attend law school at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, where he earned his Juris Doctor. He also later attended the University of Dayton in OH, where he earned his Master of Laws.
He utilized this knowledge to get a job with USAA, where he is currently working as an intellectual property counsel attorney. He says that his education and the military prepared him for a lot of things in his career, but there was one thing he found at his new job that he was inexperienced with: business. Dealing with things like intellectual property law meant interacting with the business world more than Omar had anticipated.
“I had quite a bit of leadership experience, but not a whole lot of tangible business experience,” Omar said.
I think that as an attorney, it is important for me to have insight into the business side of things, how things are run — and frankly, I realized that I didn't have that. It was important for me to build that up, especially at this point in my career.
Living in Texas, Learning in LA
To fill his gap in knowledge, he decided to pursue an MBA at Michigan Ross. Omar and his wife had family in Michigan that had attended the University of Michigan, which had piqued Omar’s interest in the Ross School of Business. Further research into the school’s reputation helped solidify his decision.
“U-M is a nationally recognized school with a nationally recognized MBA program,” Omar said. “It was just the best value out there for me.”
As an Executive MBA student, Omar opted to attend classes in Los Angeles rather than Ann Arbor, since LA was closer to his home in San Antonio. He was grateful to have the opportunity to attend classes in person without having to move away from Texas, where he lives with his family.
“It works well for me in the sense that LA is only a couple of hours time difference from San Antonio,” Omar said. “When I’m learning on campus, I typically fly in on a Thursday, then I catch up with my classmates over dinner. We have class Friday and Saturday, then I fly home again Sunday.”
Resources at Ross
Omar says that he had high expectations for Ross, given its reputation as a top business school. His experience so far has lived up to his hopes — and then some.
“I was very surprised by the career development resources available. I did not expect there to be that much of a focus,” Omar said. “The academic focus comes with the territory, but I think that what surprised me most was the fact that we're all assigned a career development coach, and it goes well beyond what you’d think.”
“You get the opportunity to explore personal growth and what you want for yourself, what you see your future being, and even the little things like one-on-one help with your resume. It was good to have a personal eye on that stuff. The availability of all these resources was a nice surprise.”
Omar says his experience with Ross so far has been very beneficial, and he loves having the chance to bond with a diverse cohort of people from many different backgrounds. Despite the small class size, he’s found a strong community of veterans in the program as well.
You will make lifelong friends in this program. I think that there is something about the rigor and collaboration of this experience that just kind of generates those bonds, and I can say that with my classmates from my group the first term, I fully expect to keep in touch even after classes are over.
Looking Forward to The Future
After graduation, Omar says he isn’t sure what he wants to do next — but he knows his MBA will help him succeed, whichever direction he chooses to go.
“I'm not sure what I want to do when I grow up,” Omar joked. “I think that I get a lot of satisfaction from being an attorney, but this has opened my eyes to maybe exploring what I could do on the business side of things.”
To future EMBA students, he shared this piece of advice:
“If you have the opportunity to talk to alumni, reach out and see what they have to say about the experience. It's good to hear from people actually in the program,” Omar said. “From someone who’s been through it, be prepared for a tough first term, but know it’s absolutely all worth it in the end.”