The MBA experience at Michigan Ross is fast-paced. Without taking time to slow down and reflect upon experiences, two years can fly by. Our student-run Leader Experience (LDRx) program aims to help students become intentional about their goals and experiences.
We tapped into the minds of two MBAs who participated during the 2018-2019 year to hear what they thought of the program. Dillon was a group facilitator and Nonie was a participant in his group, along with four others.
Why did you choose to participate in LDRx?
D: I knew the b-school experience would go extremely fast. My intention was to set aside the time to reflect about my overall goals for the MBA program, with like-minded peers in an environment that is non-judgemental and I can be open and share things with my peers.
N: I wanted to have a space to be intentional about professional development and leadership. I also wanted a space to think about some of my broader goals and group to do that with.
Talk to us about the program structure.
D: Each week, once a week, we would find a time based on class schedules to come together and conduct small group reflection. And, throughout the year, we would come together as a large group to hear various speakers/larger group reflection events. It’s nice to hear in the large group settings what best practices are for building trust, etc.
N: I agree with Dillon! The small group meeting times were designed around our schedules, which made LDRx easier to fit in.
What’s the time commitment?
D: It’s fairly minimal in comparison to professional clubs. On average, one hour per week. As a facilitator, it can sometimes be difficult to get everyone’s schedule aligned but it’s important to meet because it keeps continuity and momentum.
N: That’s what makes it doable, is that it is only an hour per week. The value you are getting during that hour is really high. That hour is re-energizing and actually gave me a lot of time back because I felt more focused afterward.
How does this experience relate to other components of your MBA?
D: I gained skills as a facilitator that I am using in a lot of other facets of MBA life—active listening, making sure everyone is participating, and gauging emotions. My refined ability to set expectations within a group, define clear goals, and communicate clearly will help me in the future, especially during MAP. Additionally, there is a huge focus on recruiting at Ross (and it can be stressful), so LDRx was a nice touch point to know you’re not alone in the process. It was valuable to have people in LDRx to celebrate wins and comfort each other in times of failure.
N: It gave me the chance to process challenges that come up in other MBA experiences with my peers. LDRx helped me use those challenges to develop personally instead of complaining about them. Turning the insights into something more action-oriented was beneficial.
What were highlights or surprises for you?
D: Taking the Reflected Best Self Exercise. Coming to business school, there is a large focus on deficits, but it was enlightening to get an outside perspective to what my strengths are. I realized what my strengths are and what areas to develop so that I can continue to grow. It was the strengths-based approach that Sanger talks a lot about.
N: The highlight for me was re-conceptualizing my definition of leadership itself, focusing less as an opportunity to exert leadership as power/influence, but rather on self-leadership so I could be more productive day-to-day, but also in groups of people. In b-school, there are lots of opportunities for formal roles of leadership, but what was more impactful was leadership in smaller moments and asking how can I be someone that people want to be around. Better understanding yourself facilitates that.
What’s the most important component of the program?
D: The people who actually come to LDRx are people who actually want to be there. Having a self-selected group of people who actually want to do this is the most important tool to get insightful conversations.
N: Vulnerability builds on the idea that it’s a self-selected group. It only works if people are willing to share things about themselves. The small group structure really enabled vulnerability.
How did you decide if you wanted to be a participant or facilitator? How were your goals aligned with that decision?
D: My decision to become a facilitator came from my background in the military where my training and conversations about leadership were more formal. In LDRx, we don’t call it “team leader” but “team facilitator,” and that distinction is important. Almost all the work we do in the MBA program is in groups where there is no clear leader, so I wanted to develop skills to truly facilitate a group.
N: I wanted time for self and peer reflection and to be cognizant of the learning moments that happened during the course of MBA experience. I wanted a structured opportunity to do that.
What skills have you gained that you will you apply in your future?
D: Listening, sticking to goals, and being open about progress with others to hold me accountable. LDRx helped me to define why I came to business school and how I am progressing in my first year. I’ve been honest with myself as to how I am progressing.
N: How to set team expectations and building norms at the beginning of the project, active listening, reflection without judgment (before being in an evaluative mode), appreciation/gratitude, and values clarification, in partnership with Sanger’s Legacy Lab.
What advice would you give to someone who might be considering applying to LDRx?
D: Try to look at your goals for the MBA holistically and think about what are the things that will actually bring value to your life. LDRx was one of those opportunities —I’d strongly recommend it. There are disproportionate benefits that come from putting in the time to the program.
N: Be honest about what other time commitments and what drives you. Think critically about if you are someone who is ready to show up at a group meeting that isn’t mandatory, and if you are someone who wants to give as much to other people as what you’ll take from them. You need that in order for the program to be as great as it can.
One of our goals of LDRx is to build a strong network. What did that mean for you in the program?
D: It’s hard in the MBA program to develop real, deep connections and LDRx was a catalyst for those types of relationships.
N: It’s easy to make friends in your section and in with the people who have a similar recruiting focus. Within LDRx, I enjoyed meeting people who were not a part of either of those groups, getting a chance to make friends who were not in my section or on the same recruiting path. Those are the best people to bounce ideas off of because they are not living your experience. It gets you outside of that vacuum of the same conversations every day.
Describe your LDRx experience in one word.
N: I agree! I would also say “intentional.” From opting into the program, being intentional about the goals you are setting, executing on those goals, and being deliberate about being reflective.
Applications for the 2019-2020 LDRx cohort will open in the Fall of 2019. You may indicate your interest on the LDRx page.
Dillon Cory, LDRx Facilitator, MBA ’19
Prior to Ross, Dillon studied at the University of Chicago and was an officer in the United States Marines Corps. He came to Ross to continue his passion for driving organizational solutions through strong team cultures. He is involved in LDRx, General Management Club, Armed Forces Association, Human Capital Club, and the Business Beyond Usual Podcast.
It was valuable to have people in LDRx to celebrate wins and comfort each other in times of failure.Dillon Cory
Nonie Arora, LDRx Participant, MBA/MD ’20
Nonie’s passion for improving healthcare delivery and access brought her to gain additional skills at Ross beyond her clinical training. At Ross, she is involved in LDRx, Healthcare Club, Consulting Club, and Michigan Business Women. She also serves as a delegate to the American Medical Association, representing medical students to the physician advocacy organization. When she’s not in a classroom, clinic, or meeting, you can find her rock climbing or salsa dancing in Ann Arbor.
I wanted time for self and peer reflection and to be cognizant of the learning moments that happened during the course of MBA experience.Nonie Arora