Introducing Alumni-In-Residence — Select Michigan Ross Alumni Are Mentoring Ross Students Throughout The Year


If there’s one thing Michigan Ross Alumni love more than saying “Go Blue” to anyone wearing a Block M anywhere in the world, it’s giving back to the Ross community.

The recently launched Alumni-in-Residence program proves just that — prominent alumni from across industries have volunteered to give significant portions of their time to offer individualized mentorship meetings to current students from all Ross degree programs.

If the early returns are any indication, it’s a popular concept, and it’s growing fast. Student demand for meetings with the participating alumni has far outpaced time available in a day.

Recent residencies have been held by:

  • Derek Koenig, BA ‘89/MBA ‘94 — SVP and Head of Agency Creative for Discovery Communications;
  • Sheri Petras, BBA ‘86 — CEO of the CFI Group;
  • Ralph Johnson, MBA ‘92 — Americas Ombud for McKinsey & Company;
  • Yee Chen, MBA ‘15 — Growth Product Manager with Reddit; and,
  • Many more

During their individual meetings, Ross students have the opportunity to engage with the alumni in any way they find beneficial — from informational interviews, networking opportunities, resume reviews, deep dives into industry topics, and more.

The 1-on-1 discussions often coincide with larger fireside chat discussions or other student club-led events, giving additional students a chance to learn from and engage with the visiting alumni.

Some of the conversations turn into longer-term mentoring relationships between the alumni and the students.

For instance, Edward Wajda, MBA ‘17 and senior vice president of the Global Power Group at Briggs & Stratton, is currently mentoring 12 students as part of the Alumni in Residence program, and has already seen previous mentee’s graduate into great careers.

“I love mentoring students and seeing them grow through the mentoring,” Wajda said. “It’s rewarding for me to see the year on year improvement.”

As much as the students like the opportunity to meet with alumni who have prominence and influence in their field of interest, the visiting alumni equally enjoy to opportunity to pass their knowledge onto the next generation of Ross grads who will follow in their footsteps.

“In the last five years, I’ve been involved with a lot of programs at Ross,” Wajda said. “Alumni in Residence is phenomenal. I’ve seen the impact it has on students — it’s very powerful.”

Alumni who participate in the program have also expressed that they come away very impressed by the strong caliber of Ross students, and a better understanding of the current Ross curriculum that is preparing these students to be effective leaders.

The Alumni-in-Residence program is a great exemplification of how the connection our students have to Michigan Ross doesn’t end when they graduate. Our engaged, active, and committed alumni bring this idea to life every day.

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