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Keisha Brown

Q&A with Keisha Strong, MBA '11

Keisha Strong, MBA ’11 is the owner of and consultant for Strong Consulting. After working for Johnson & Johnson and Motorola in operations and sales management roles, Keisha launched Strong Consulting in 2008, helping small businesses grow and become more profitable.

Why were you interested in pursuing an Executive MBA?

Doing an MBA was something I had been thinking about for a number of years, but as my career kept progressing, it never seemed like the right time. After I started my company, I decided I needed the knowledge and credibility of the MBA to take my company where I wanted it to go. I had learned a lot of business principles on the job, and I really wanted to take my business acumen to the next level.

Why did you choose Ross?

Everything I do in my work is about strategy, helping business owners get beyond the day-to-day and see the bigger picture. Ross’ focus on general management and strategy was what I needed to help my clients take their businesses into the future. The once-a-month format also really worked for me. I could continue my career and fit in a top program at the same time. Commuting from Chicago to Ann Arbor was easy.

How has the program helped your career?

I’m a stronger consultant to my clients and better business owner. The program helped me focus precisely on the value I can provide my clients and how best to position myself. I help small companies develop more effective business strategies, find new competitive advantage, cut costs, and grow for long-term success. All of the classes have helped me do this better.

How has the program specifically helped your work?

One of the biggest benefits has been the complex knowledge of global business I gained. Now when a client approaches me about wanting to expand globally, I can better assess ideas and opportunities — in terms of product positioning, competition, costs, hidden issues, and, ultimately, likelihood of success. Global application is emphasized in every single course at Ross, from marketing to finance to strategy. Finding new markets is a big deal for my clients, and I’m better able to help them do that now.

What was the best aspect of the program?

ExecMAP. I got to explore a completely different career for four months. I had always been interested in public service work, but I had never had the right opportunity to learn about it it. I worked on a project for Habitat for Humanity International. We traveled to Slovakia to develop a launch strategy for a new field office. It was a life-changing experience; seeing the impact of our work on the community was profound. I’m more impassioned to make a difference in my work now. The ExecMAP professors, with their expertise in entrepreneurship, also gave me a lot of helpful advice about my company.

What advice would you give someone pursuing an EMBA?

Take advantage of the network while you’re here! The people you’ll be with are extremely smart and talented, and come from fascinating backgrounds. Both you and they bring incredible insight to the classroom. My classmates challenged me to be better. I approach all of my career pursuits differently because of the perspectives I got from them. We shared so many memories together. The time goes by fast; make the most of it.

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