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.

“I learned lots of real-life experiences through the Sanger Crisis Challenge while having fun, networking with professionals, and making some new friends.”

Mohammad Azimi, MM/MS ’18
Interest Form

Program Type

Action-Based Learning

Key Dates

2019 Graduate Challenge
Thursday, January 17, approx. 4:30-10 PM
Michigan Ross

Friday, January 18, approx. 8-5 PM*
Michigan Stadium

2019 Undergraduate Challenge
Thursday, March 28, approx. 4:30-10 PM
Michigan Ross

Friday, March 29, approx. 8-5 PM*
Michigan Stadium

Time Commitment

Approximately 10 hours over 2 days

* You do not need to be present the entire day on Friday. Your team will be assigned a 50-minute window in the morning or early afternoon. The final round of competition typically begins around 3 PM and ends by 5 PM.

Participant Requirements

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


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


You’ll work on a small team of 4-6 students during the challenge. You do not need to have a team formed before signing up. Teams will be decided on the first night of the challenge. You can work with a group of peers you already know or you can choose to create your team the first day of the challenge by networking and using provided information about other students’ goals and strengths.


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.

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.

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.

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.




April 17, 2018 in Leadership Crisis Challenge

Leadership Lessons Powered by Driverless Cars

In January, 150+ graduate students from across U-M participated in the annual Leadership Crisis Challenge. This year's challenge addressed the moral and business implications that occur when self-driving or autonomous...

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April 13, 2018 in Leadership Crisis Challenge

Meet the Students Who Ran the Crisis Challenge

Behind the scenes at each Leadership Crisis Challenge (LCC), dozens of student volunteers are writing tweets, answering emails, acting as protestors, and generally putting the crisis into the challenge. They...

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February 9, 2018 in Leadership Crisis Challenge

How Mentoring Led to Success at Crisis Challenge

Meet two participants from our January 2018 and 2017 Leadership Crisis Challenge (LCC), Rishabh Jain and Edward Wajda II. Rishabh is a current student and a Ross Leaders Academy fellow,...

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