The Program

Crisis Challenge prepares you to lead in high-pressure, high-stakes environments. You will be immersed in a simulated business and media crisis where you will test your ability to strategize through extreme turbulence, think on your feet, and demonstrate poise under pressure.

You and your team will play the part of senior executives tasked with responding to the crisis as it unfolds: you’ll receive emails, social media updates, phone calls and more throughout Thursday night. Then, on Friday, you’ll come to Michigan Stadium to present your strategy to your board of directors (made up of esteemed U-M alums), journalists, and the public. Along the way, you’ll receive personalized feedback from business leaders, communication coaches, and faculty experts.

Leadership Crisis Challenge is made possible by the generous support of PNC Bank.

Our undergraduate program is run with the help of Net Impact, a student-run organization.

Get Involved

Crisis Challenge is open to all U-M students and is offered twice a year: once for graduate students and once for undergraduate students. To get involved, fill out our registration form, which is posted to this page a few months in advance of each program.

Crisis Challenge is a perfect opportunity to learn how to handle imperfect situations! The Sanger team did an extraordinary job to simulate real-world situations, involve the right people, and provide valuable guidance.”

Kiran Veera, OMBA ‘22

Program Type

Action-Based Learning, offered virtually for 2021

Key Dates

2021 Graduate Challenge
January 28-29, 2021

2021 Undergraduate Challenge
March 25-26, 2021

Time Commitment

Approximately 10 hours over 2 days

* The time requirements for the virtual Crisis Challenge in 2021 may differ from previous years. More details will be sent via email when registration opens.

Participant Requirements

  • Any U-M Student
  • Ability to attend both days


Three finalist teams will receive a reward that is split between team members.


Teams will be formed at check-in. There may be an opportunity will be available for you to be on a team with a friend or someone you know. More information will be provided the week of the Challenge.

Skills You’ll Learn

Thinking Strategically
As a crisis unfolds, you will face complex decisions and a range of competing stakeholders. Success will depend on your ability to effectively frame issues, rigorously analyze tradeoffs, and articulate a clear, coherent strategy. Ultimately, you’ll have to cut through complexity and find a clear path forward.

Managing Ambiguity & Uncertainty
Your team will make difficult decisions of consequence for your company, community, and other stakeholders. It will do so in an environment that is complex, dynamic, and ambiguous. You will practice navigating this environment and leveraging incomplete information to make a large percentage of good calls.

Working with Diverse Individuals
You will collaborate with a team of diverse students who speak different disciplinary languages. Despite your differences, you will practice exercising leadership together, embracing debate, managing conflicts, and supporting each other’s learning. This will require a high level of organization and activation of your diverse expertise and capabilities.

Developing Executive Presence
The second day of competition will challenge you to communicate your strategy in a pressurized environment, while preserving your message, composure, and poise. A communication coach will give you tips and feedback, while supporting robust learning from the experience and helping you enhance your presence.




May 5, 2020 in Leadership Crisis Challenge, Managing Teams, Sanger Programs

2020 BBA Grad Reflects on Crisis Challenge and How It Applies to COVID-19

Spotlighted in the University Record along with a list of notable students graduating with the Class of 2020, Max Garcia, BBA 2020, reflected on his experience with our Leadership Crisis…
Read More
April 9, 2020 in Leadership Crisis Challenge, Managing Teams, Sanger Programs

Strategy and Past Experience Helped this Team Stay Focused to Win the Crisis Challenge

Nicole Crosby, MBA ’20 and Brad Lorant, OMBA ’22, reflect on their experience at the Sanger Leadership Crisis Challenge earlier this year. They give an overview of how a team…
Read More
February 27, 2020 in Leadership Crisis Challenge, Student Blog

This BBA put himself into a high-pressure situation—on purpose—at our Crisis Challenge

Max Garcia, BBA ’20, participated in the Leadership Crisis Challenge as a sophomore. In this blog for Poets&Quants, he reflects upon the intense, high-pressure experience... and explains why he's going…
Read More