Rebecca Lyon

Rebecca Lyon, MBA '19

Running the business side of a law firm

Rebecca Lyon enjoys working with lawyers and, with a law degree herself from the University of California Berkeley, as well as experience practicing law, she certainly understands what they do. Now, as a Chief Talent Officer for the law firm Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles, she runs the personnel side of the firm, recruiting attorneys and staff, overseeing trainings, performance reviews, and human resources, and much more. And it’s here—in “running the business of the law firm” as she describes it—where her experience in the Ross Executive MBA program is helping her the most.

I have the technical legal skills required for this job, but coming into the Executive MBA program, I didn’t have a solid foundation for the business side.

The leadership development component of her Ross education has had a tremendous impact on her work.

“The Michigan Ross program grows leaders who can oversee every aspect of a business,” Lyon says. “Before this program, if you’d asked me what a leader is, I would have said someone who stands in front, is the point person, is vocal, something like that. Now, I see that it’s about being more empathetic and thoughtful about the people you’re working with. It’s knowing your blind spots, and knowing when and how to push people forward, motivating them in the right way to bring out their best.”

She adds that the coursework is hands-on, not theoretical, which allows her to apply what she’s learning directly to her organization. “It’s a wonderful way to see what’s broken and what we need to focus on,” she says. “Otherwise, it can be difficult to know how to change, or understand why things aren’t working or why you’re not adapting.”

As she looks ahead to graduation in May of 2019, Lyon says that the Executive MBA program has broadened her perspective of opportunities she might want to reach for, and it’s challenged her perception of herself. “It’s been eye-opening,” she says. “It’s expanded my whole perspective on my professional world.”