The Lessons I Learned Helping Bring a New Wine to Market


By Graham Garvin, MBA ‘16

Throughout my first year at Ross, I was exposed to quite a few transformative experiences.

But the ultimate transformation took place during the culmination of my first year as a Ross MBA, my Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP).

I’m still in awe of the opportunities given to our team during MAP. For our project, we were asked to work with a leader in the wine industry to develop a go-to-market strategy for a new wine brand. Which meant we had the fortune of spending two weeks in wine country, observing the wine production process from vineyard stewardship all the way through to distribution.

Of course we also had to taste several of the company’s brands along the way...and pair them with some fantastic wine-country cuisine.

I could write pages on the weeks in wine country alone, but instead I thought I’d share how I grew personally as our MAP team successfully worked through the project.

Getting to know each other

My MAP project began with a week in Ann Arbor establishing our team. Our six team members came together to develop work plans and familiarize ourselves with project deliverables and the company’s background.

It was a really important week for the team, allowing us to set the tone for the rest of project. Our early work establishing relationships in the team ultimately allowed us to work effectively together.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. If you want to build high-functioning teams, getting to know your teammates and their aspirations is a crucial starting point. This will be a mindset I maintain as I approach future challenges of ramping-up with new teams both professionally and in my personal life.

Elevating as a team

Working on an actual business challenge shoulder-to-shoulder with the executives running a real-world company was a great learning opportunity.  

The Ross alumni who served as our main project sponsor did an incredible job providing our team with exposure to the entire executive team during our project. We had interviews with key leadership teams, from sales to finance, to understand the various perspectives of what defined success for our project.

This allowed us to digest input from across the company’s business functions and develop a robust and holistic approach to our recommendations. Our team also learned the value of developing high-quality interview skills. Being professional and asking the right questions helped us gain sponsor confidence early on.

Ultimately our work concluded with a 45-minute presentation to an entire boardroom of executives. This is the kind of experience that takes your abilities to the next level, and one I was so thankful to have.

It was incredibly nerve-racking, sure, but I walked out of that meeting with a deep feeling of satisfaction that only comes when you know you have stretched yourself to new levels.

Driving results together

By the end of the project our team was able to see some of the tangible outcomes of our work. The new brand of wine we were helping launch can now be found in retail stores and restaurants.

Moving forward, it will be really cool to watch the brand mature and know our team had a hand in the new label’s birth. I personally am very excited to see how some of our specific recommended go-to-market strategies unfold over the next few years.

The value of the MAP program to me, my fellow Ross students, and the business community is immeasurable. Ross has certainly lived up to my expectations as I reflect back on MAP and the incredible growth it has afforded me. My first year has affirmed all the reasons I chose Ross, and I can’t wait to see what my second year has in store.

Go Blue!


Graham Garvin is a second-year Michigan Ross MBA student. He spent this summer interning with Boston Consulting Group.