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Ross Impact Challenge

The Ross Impact Challenge is a weeklong, action-based leadership experience that sets the tone for 500 first-year MBA students, who:

  • Work in teams to compete in a high-intensity challenge
  • Explore their personal leadership style through the Competing Values Framework
  • Gain exposure to cutting-edge research on leadership and innovation
  • Receive training and feedback from faculty and experts in the field

Along the way, students collaborate, compete, take risks, build social networks, and bring to life the Michigan Model of Leadership 's core purpose of "Making a positive difference in the world."

INNOVATING DETROIT: THE 2012 Ross Impact Challenge

The core purpose of our Michigan Model of Leadership is “Making a Positive Difference in the World.” For us, that positive difference starts at home.

The Ross Leadership Initiative’s 2012 Ross Impact Challenge focused on “Innovating Detroit.”
Our 500+ first-year MBA students — who come from all over the nation and world — spent their first days on campus engaging with Detroit.

They learned about the city as a place to live, work, and play, and gained a big picture view of its unique challenges and opportunities.

To dive deeper, 48 teams of students:

  • were divided between six partner organizations that increased their understanding of one of Detroit’s key challenges, including education (Jalen Rose Leadership Academy), food and hunger (Forgotten Harvest), transportation (SEMCOG), arts and culture (Detroit Institute of Arts), housing (Habitat for Humanity), and job training (Focus: HOPE)
  • integrated into the partner organization for a full day, working within its core functions and learning about its vision, values, and strategy
  • worked for six high-intensity days to develop a pitch for a new, for-profit venture within the partner organization’s sector that would add economic and social value to Detroit
  • functioned in diverse teams and outside their comfort zones, having to complete an ambiguous task under intense time pressure
  • received feedback and training throughout from Michigan Ross faculty and staff from Ann Arbor Spark and Detroit Venture Partners
  • took part in a pitch competition that deepened their understanding of Detroit, its challenges, and its entrepreneurial opportunities
  • enjoyed a D:Hive bus tour of the city and took in a Tigers baseball game

The program was a news maker and differentiator. It joined one of the nation’s top public research universities in a revitalization effort with one of the nation’s most distressed cities. It engaged more than a dozen organizations in the effort. It brought our leadership model’s unique core purpose — “Making a Positive Difference in the World” — to life.

Finally, the Ross Impact Challenge began two years of action-based leadership development for our MBA students by instilling an ethic of positive impact through business.