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.

“Being a participant in the Crisis Challenge has really boosted my confidence regarding addressing and managing problems publicly, and I would strongly recommend students from other academic programs sign up for the challenge. You will learn a lot!”

Vaness Cox, Psychology Ph.D. ’20
Interest Form

Program Type

Action-Based Learning

Key Dates

2020 Undergraduate Challenge
Thursday, March 26 & Friday, March 27

Consistent with university policy regarding the COVID-19 virus, this event has regrettably been canceled.

Questions? Email us.

2021 Graduate Challenge
January 2021, dates TBA

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.


Teams will be formed at check-in on March 26. 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.

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.




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…
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February 26, 2020 in Leadership Crisis Challenge, Student Blog

Three Takeaways from the First Ross Online MBA Leadership Residency

Michigan Ross welcomed our first class of Online MBA (OMBA) students to campus in January to take part in the leadership residency. Marissa Bialecki, OMBA ’22, reflects on the experience—which…
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February 21, 2020 in Leadership Crisis Challenge

What Michigan Ross Alumni Take Away From Students’ 24 Hours of Chaos in the Leadership Crisis Challenge

Since the first competition was held in 2007, around 375 alumni of the Ross School of Business and the University of Michigan have played a crucial role in creating a…
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