Learning to Lead: A Conversation with Christina Weiberg

by | Jun 28, 2022 | Self-Leadership, Sanger Programs

As a woman of color in a leadership position, Christina Weiberg, MBA ’22, feels a responsibility to make the most of her opportunities. 

“I feel a lot of pressure to make sure that I’m always fighting for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that I’m always putting the best foot forward,” said Christina. Upon graduating from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, she accepted a position at Amazon working with maintenance and engineering teams that build the company’s fulfillment centers. “As a Latina, we represent the lowest number of leadership positions in corporate America. I’m very aware that post-MBA, I will see very few of me. That’s a lot of pressure to make sure I’m making room for those that come after me — that I’m not the only Latina anymore.”

The Sanger Leadership Center at Michigan Ross helped her realize what good leadership looks like for her and how she can use her past experiences to more effectively communicate with and lead other people. 

“When I was applying for the MBA program, one of the things I was excited about was the Sanger Leadership Center,” Christina said. “I come from a coaching background, having been a software development team coach before coming to Ross. I had put in a lot of time and effort into being a good coach for others, but I realized I wanted to spend some time figuring out what leadership meant for me, learning how I could grow in management, how I can understand my values better. When I came to Michigan, I knew I wanted to be involved in everything Sanger. I actually completed all of the programs that Sanger has for MBA students to be involved in.”

That level of involvement in everything Sanger earned Christina the Michigan Ross Leader Endorsement, a pilot program that debuted in the 2021-2022 Academic Year. Initially open to all Full-Time and Weekend MBAs, the program requires students to complete the following: personal leadership reports; Sanger flagship programs (Crisis Challenge, Leading Inclusive Teams, LDRx, Legacy Lab, Story Lab); at least one leadership elective; and the Capstone Assignment. The Leader Endorsement takes most students about 65 hours to complete. 

The endorsement recognizes the accomplishments of students who devote a large portion of their time at Michigan dedicated to becoming better leaders. To earn the credential, students complete the program requirements at their own pace during their degree program. The endorsement’s guidelines expose students to a set of insightful workshops, reflections and experimentation, courses, and action-based learning activities.

“It was a really incredible opportunity to reflect back on the past two years and why these programs made an impact, why I cared about understanding my values to be a better leader and communicate that to others,” she said. 

Christina, who was born in Colombia and grew up in a small town west of Minneapolis, believes a good leader is one who is honest internally and transparent externally. “Being that I’m a woman of color, I am very aware of the biases that I experience. I can’t expect to understand everyone’s lived experience. If I’m honest with myself that I have a particular lived experience, that means that every other person I talk to has their own lived experience. … For me as a coach, I want to be transparent and allow there to be open dialogue and conversation about the decisions that I make or the way that I’m choosing to engage in my leadership opportunities.”

Christina’s experience with Sanger programming taught her that even though she’s an MBA graduate of a premier business school such as Ross, she doesn’t actually have to have all of the answers. “In managerial positions, there is a lot of pressure — especially after MBA — so we tend to think we have to figure it out ourselves, but we don’t actually have to. We can ask the people we’re leading who’ve been with the company for 15 years. We can ask our peers or managers or the people we’re reporting to. We can also ask employees not in management because no matter the role, it’s important to trust our team for their expertise.”

She credits Sanger’s Legacy Lab — a two-day experience of workshops designed to help students unlock personal capabilities and increase influence and resilience — for taking the pressure off of creating a legacy suitable for a Ross MBA graduate and showing her that her legacy doesn’t have to be one that changes the world. It can simply be living a life that makes her feel complete and happy. 

“It really opened me up to say, ‘I’m a holistic person. At the end of the day, I just want to travel — and that’s enough of a purpose. It doesn’t have to be something grandiose that changes the world. It just has to be something that makes me happy. I hadn’t thought of a legacy in that way before. I always thought it needed to be very extroverted and impactful for the rest of the world.” The two-day experience conducted over Zoom during the pandemic helped solidify for Christina what she wanted for her future. 

Donors of Sanger Leadership Center are providing a truly unique, oftentimes even fun, experience to MBA students, Christina said. 

“Sanger is fun,” she said. “It’s fun as a student to be able to spend time dreaming big, or looking at your past, or thinking about all of the different experiences you’ve had in your life that have culminated in this moment. … So many of the things we do during MBA are: ‘What can we do to put on our resume?’ And while Sanger can be put on our resume, more often than not, people walk away from its programs feeling like they’re personally satisfied, and that’s a very unique experience to have in an MBA program.”

Christina Weiberg, MBA ’22